We Hear You, Teachable Fam

In three months, Teachable turns five years old.

In that time, we’ve grown an enormous amount. We now power 25,000 creators who teach 20+ million people. All of our beautiful creators will sell over $300 million worth of knowledge this year alone! That’s close to an average of a million dollars in sales every single day this year.

But ultimately, as Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Today, I want to talk about that responsibility.

What responsibility?

  • The responsibility that comes with supporting the livelihoods of thousands of people.
  • The responsibility to serve our creators who have loyally stuck with us for years.
  • The responsibility to always remember our raison d’etre — you.

Instead of shirking away from some of the more difficult questions posed in our community, I wanted to take this opportunity to answer them head on.

While some of the answers may not be specifically what you would like to hear, I’m optimistic you will appreciate the candor and our responsibility to build for the long-term.

Delayed Response Times

“It’s taking me longer to hear back when I have a question.”

We aim to get back to all customer enquiries within a single business hour. In the last few months, we have fallen substantially behind due to a myriad of reasons.

Wow, that does not make for pretty viewing.

Our First Reply Time skyrocketed in January after a somewhat tumultuous November. We fell behind in hiring, our inbound ticket volume grew much faster than anticipated, and we expended a lot of energy preparing to open a second Customer Care location (more on that in a sec).

We know that this is not good enough. This is not the standard we set ourselves to. The first step towards fixing something is acknowledging the problem.

Instead of mere platitudes, I want to outline the specific actions we are taking to rectify this:

  • Our team is committed to supporting our creators to the best of our ability, which is a very high, specific standard. We aim for a 1-hour First Response Time during business hours and a 95% Customer Satisfaction score. We were at those levels previously and we will be back there shortly.
  • In addition to being able to submit a ticket, our Professional Plan customers have the ability to chat live with an agent — we intend to double down on this, and are looking into expanding coverage to make live support available to more people.
  • We want to make it easier to contact Teachable — we’re looking at bringing more contextual help inside the application including being able to submit a ticket in-line from any screen inside the admin area.
  • We’re reinvesting back into the business — we’re opening a new Customer Care office in Durham, North Carolina in the next month to support our core Customer Care operation in New York City, and we aim to grow our Customer Care team by almost 70% in 2019. (That’s 18 new full-time employees on Customer Care that will join Teachable in 2019!)
  • Beyond simply supporting people when they have problems, we’re spending a lot of time thinking about what else can we do to proactively support our creators in growing your business. We have a world-class knowledge base and customer community. We’re investing a lot into recorded trainings and live workshops in our new school TeachableU to make Teachable the single best place to learn how to start a business online.

What is Teachable Investing In

“Teachable is spending all their time marketing to new users instead of developing features for existing users.”

If you haven’t heard, we host pretty awesome online events 1–2 times a year. We have 30+ speakers, tens of thousands of attendees, and absolutely incredible content in every session. Plus, it’s all free to attend, with a bonus for people who upgrade to a paid plan. Every time we host these events we get hundreds of emails from people who loved it.

We’re hosting a similar event in March — but when we emailed one of our top affiliates (who loves us), her advice stung:

“Your team hosts absolutely incredible summits like these — absolutely packed with value and I’m sure this one will be incredible too.
But at the same time, there is a community of existing customers who share common feedback, complaints and wishes for Teachable.
It’d be amazing to see Teachable invest as much energy and excitement into its existing customers as you do to new customers”

Even though these initiatives are independent of each other — for instance, if our Marketing team didn’t run an online conference, it would not enable our Product or Engineering team to ship a new sales page editor any faster — receiving this feedback still stung.

In 2019, we’re investing heavily in Product and Engineering. To give you context, we’re aiming to add 18 new people (from 26 to 44) on our Product and Engineering teams this year. That’s a 70% bump in headcount. For context, our Marketing team is slated to grow by only 4 people this year to 15.

In addition to the exciting slate of new features we’re working on (more on that shortly), we’re spending a lot of time talking to our creators, learning about all the annoying things that exist with the product as they stand and cleaning them up.

All this while hiring, training, and onboarding new employees with the goal of ending the year with 40+ engineers working full-time on making Teachable the best it can be.

What is Teachable Working On

“I have no idea what features Teachable is working on”

At Teachable, we tout transparency as a core internal cultural value. Internally, every employee can view our financials, our board meeting agendas, our revenue and sales numbers, and pretty much all information short of other employees private compensation information.

Yet externally, our community has not had the same experience. There are frequent calls for more transparency in terms of what Teachable is actually working on, which new features are being developed, which bugs are being worked on, and what to expect from Teachable in the coming year(s).

We’ve been hesitant to do so for a multitude of reasons. Plans change, and by externally sharing what we are working on, it makes things harder to walk back. Writing software can be incredibly challenging — initiatives that you think take a week, can take a month. We thought building the first version of Teachable would take a quarter, it (unsurprisingly) took over a year!

At the same time, I recognize we need to do better. Our creators rely on us to run their business, so we’re pushing to share as much as possible, starting with:

  • We now have monthly blog posts with the goal of sharing exactly what changed in the product along with what to expect in the coming month. You should read it!
  • You can join our beta program to get early access to features as soon as they are released.
  • We are working on making our high-level roadmap available to our community. While we’re still not able to talk about features we intend to work on, we can certainly provide better visibility into features that are actively being worked on. Stay tuned for more.

And for a quick preview of what is to come on Teachable in the coming months:

  • Course compliance is almost live! You can soon gate access to content based on a student actually completing content or passing a quiz.
  • We hear you on how hard it it to build a sales page on Teachable, the team has been working really hard on a brand new WYSIWYG Page Editor that we’ll be slowly rolling out to creators. Sign up for our Beta program and you will be the first to know.
  • With close to a million dollars processed per day via Teachable’s checkout product, we’re working on adding better statistics and instrumentation to the checkout process. Following that, we’ll be working on integrating Google Pay and Apple Pay since almost 50% of all Teachable purchases happen on a mobile phone! All of these features are designed to make you the most income from your course.
  • We are spending a lot of time on UX cleanup! Our account creation and login flows could do with a refresh, and we’re working hard to eliminate common signup and login issues to make the entire experience as frictionless as possible.

While we have a lot more to come on all of this, the biggest takeaway is we owe you better visibility so you can always see what’s coming soon.

Thank you for reading this far.

While a lot of this post may not have made for particularly pretty reading, this is the open and transparent communication we owe our creators.

It holds us accountable, and will be something to collectively look back on from a position of strength in a few months.

Thank you all for trusting Teachable with your livelihood. This is not a responsibility we take on lightly.