When a small business grows, that growth creates potential for successes and failures. Sometimes, success can bring about some failure. We experienced some of that this January at Tax1099.com.
First, I want to talk about how we measure success. We have been growing our number of 1099 forms e-filed and the customers we file them for by around 100% annually prior to this year. Our expectation for the 2013 filing season was to exceed that rate by another 100% given some of our new partnerships. So we were expecting to grow by about 200% from the 2012 filing season. More important than the numbers, we measure success in customer interactions. Any failure there, whether in site performance or chat/phone/email interaction, negates any positive gain in the numbers.
With that in mind, I want to look at how we performed in those two measures.
- Numbers – We experienced 295% growth in the number of forms filed in January 2014 compared to January 2013. We also saw 105% growth in the number of submissions (“submissions” is anytime someone clicks Submit, whether that is one form or hundreds of forms). That means a significant number of filers were filing higher forms per submission than in previous years. A higher number of forms per submission points to a growing base of accountant/bookkeeper users, who may e-File 1099s for many clients. While some of those clients may have only 1-3 forms, others will have dozens, hundreds, or thousands of forms to file. In other words, the numbers were significantly higher than we planned for. Higher numbers is a success, but the dramatic increase led to site performance issues, mostly during the afternoons of January 28-31.
- Customer Support – While we received many glowing compliments regarding our site and service, we also heard from too many (and one is “too many”) dissatisfied customers. Some had issues with the site slowness that was attributable to the terrific volume we experienced. Others felt some of our integrations, particularly with Bill.com, were too cumbersome to work through in a timely manner. Still others received poor customer support when they contacted our team with an issue. Any one of these instances is enough for me to give the entire season a failing grade. The combination of them makes me sick thinking of the failed opportunities to support our customers.
Overall, it was a valuable, if not successful, January filing season. We learned a lot of lessons that we will incorporate into our planning to improve our site and service. We will have better expectations of the tremendous volume that will come from ourintegrated partners next year. We will also incorporate many user feedback suggestions into our updates of the system between now and the end of 2014 for the next 1099 e-File season. Next year at this time, with these improvements, we hope to report a truly successful January.
Thanks for your time.
Vice President of Business Development