Cabinets by Computer is powering around 10,000 businesses across Australia and New Zealand. Recently, they've won an award for Innovation, Research and Development in 2022 Geelong Business Excellence awards. They provide software solutions to improve design, automation, sales, and manufacturing production lines for the cabinet-making or joinery industry. From 3D kitchen & bathroom design to online cabinetry ordering, Cabinet by Computers (CBC) is no less than a leader in this niche in Australia and New Zealand. The team at CBC felt the need to involve their customers in the product development process. Previously, they were using an internal tool that was like a static text log to share updates with their customers. It wasn’t interactive and pretty static. As their team decided to transition towards a customer-led development approach, they needed a customer-facing solution to involve their users in the product-building process and build better relationships with them.
CBC recently opted for FeedBear. We felt the need to understand how FeedBear has improved its feedback collection process.
We had an interesting conversation with Justin Collins, the General Manager about their expectations from FeedBear and the journey so far
Cabinets by Computer is a software company that specializes in software for the joinery or cabinet-making industry. At the moment we serve clients across Australia and New Zealand. Predominantly, our biggest product, the one that we focus most on is a white-labeled ordering platform that we developed that allows trade users to order customized cabinetry products online. On the other end of that, we allow manufacturers or factories to receive customized cabinetry orders online, have them quoted instantly, and then transition those through to code that is in a format that a CNC machine can manufacture from straight away. We've got a bunch of different products across our software portfolio from a 3D design program to CAD software, to manufacturing software, and then also the online ordering component as well. We're a pretty small but agile team of 25. We’re really passionate about what we do. We service quite a niche market and we do it well. I've been on board with the company for over seven years now. I started as a project manager on one of the products in our range, and then have sort of moved from there up the ranks, so to speak. The founder of the company, Gary, has a background in cabinet making. He was a trade professional who owned factories in Geelong, which is about an hour south of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, and is where CBC is now based. Gary moved into software out of there being the need for solutions, which were just not available in the market. So rather than waiting for it, he decided to pivot into the software development space and started Cabinets by Computer in the early 2000s. And from there, yeah, it was a very small company, just himself and one other person for a few years. As we moved more into the online ordering space, that really sort of supercharged our growth. We launched our online ordering product in 2013. And, particularly over covid, we've seen really great growth in our user base, both from an end user and also the manufacturers that are using our product to ultimately deploy their online ordering system to their customers as well.
It’s always interesting to get a customer’s point of view of FeedBear. To know about the exact problem they were facing, which led them to find FeedBear. Justin shared some fruitful insights into that.
So the thing is that we had decided as a group that we wanted to transition to having our development being customer-centric, so having a focus on customer-led development in terms of the features that we were doing, and any of the friction points that were a high priority that we needed to fix. In the past, it was all internally decided. We, as a team, collectively looked at our dev backlog and made those decisions as to what we were going to do next. But I think the proof is in the pudding when your customers get to decide the direction of the app based on what's important to them. And if we can implement those features that are important to people who are using it, then we're gonna get a lot more bang for our buck from our development spend as well. So, we did have a way that we used to communicate our change log. We used to communicate these software updates through our customer or admin, portal. But to be quite honest, it wasn't a pretty way of doing it. It was just a really simple text log of what was happening. It wasn't interactive. And it didn't give our users any ability for them to be able to log easily feature requests or bug tickets and that sort of stuff. So we were looking for something that would allow for this to be externally facing to our customers without them needing to be logged into our app to see and use it. We were also looking for something that was a little bit more interactive and user-friendly, because ultimately we wanted to provide a bit more transparency to our users and wanted a simple and effective way to do that. So we started looking for products and came across FeedBear.
We then asked about their experience with any of our competitors out there. What was different about FeedBear that made it to be the final choice?
Usability-wise, FeedBear was really clean. I found the interface to be very simple but had all the features. Usability with any software is always very important. So, what’s always fairly high when I'm assessing a product is ‘how easy is it to use’, not just for myself, but particularly ‘how easy will it be for our clients to use’ because ultimately this is something that is going to be in front of them. So simplicity and usability in particular were pretty high on the list of important aspects that we were looking for. And FeedBear definitely checked the boxes in that regard. I have used other equivalent roadmap/feature request/change log apps before personally when interacting with other company’s products, and I think FeedBear did everything that they had done and probably more.
How has FeedBear helped Cabinets by Computer to be more customer-centric?
If you are a customer-centric company wishing to involve customers throughout your product journey, FeedBear is specifically designed for you. This is the exact same trait the team at Cabinets at Computer wanted to implement in an easy way. We asked them about how FeedBear helped them achieve it.
Firstly the transparency that we now have with our customer base in terms of the features that we have on our roadmap. We're also getting a lot more feedback from our customers in terms of how they want those features to work. So in the past, when we've internally found the need for a new feature, we've scoped that out according to what we think we need, but now we're actually able to capture earlier on that feedback from our clients. Okay, this is the end result of what we want as a feature, but how should that actually work for them? So we've already seen a few instances, where clients have said, ‘Hey, love this idea. Can you make sure it also does x y z while you're at it?’. And sometimes these are things, which we wouldn't have thought of or, or wouldn't have come across if we hadn't exposed that idea to them before we started working on it. So that has been a great thing for us, but also the prioritization of the work. Internally we would prioritize a task, or a feature in a certain way, but that doesn't always align with how our customers look at it. So we're now getting that real feedback from our customers as to what it is that is important for them. So yeah, there would be a couple of things that spring to mind immediately that have definitely improved the process for us.
As CBC wanted an interactive solution that can help bring them close to their customers, we asked about any improvement they have noticed when it comes to customer relationships.
To sort of expand on that a little bit. We've had really good feedback from our customers since. Letting them know and giving them access to our roadmap. They're really excited about seeing all the stuff that we're working on and have in the pipeline. So, you know, we've had probably half a dozen of our really good clients come back to us and say, “This is great”. We're so excited to see all the things that are on the list. So from a customer relations perspective, it's a really wonderful thing to have. Ultimately these businesses are investing as a company in your product. To be able to show them what they're investing in and the future of the product and how their contributions can help to mold the outcome of the product is pretty important.
We asked Justin to share any best practices that his team has discovered or come up with when using FeedBear.
I think it was a CSV import. It was pretty valuable to bulk load up all the tickets that we had, we use Jira and I think there might be a Jira integration coming, which is going to be awesome. We initially did the first load-up of all our features and got the roadmap where it needed to be. So yeah, we just did a quick extract out of Jira into a CSV, and molded it to bring all that data right into FeedBear. In terms of best practices, we fairly standardize the way we post our change log, so our software updates happen really consistently. We have a reminder set up to update our changelog on Feedbear. It's a bit of a manual process, but it's something that we like to do because we like to communicate that information in the most constructive manner. Sometimes the terminology that our devs or our team use doesn't necessarily make sense to the end user, so it’s important to put it in a way that gives value and meaning to our clients. So generally it runs through me and I'll put it in a customer-friendly format so that they know what we're working on and the changes that we've made. So, yeah, we have a Google Calendar reminder set to post that change log every Monday morning and Thursday morning when software updates happen. Other than that, use the tools, use the tags, and send out the links to your customers so they can interact and use the product.
Also, we were interested to know the way they get their team members and users to use FeedBear. Justin provided two ways of doing it.
Yep. So we have, in our application, a couple of links to it. We have it pinned at the top of the message board. “This is where you go to the final roadmap, feature requests, and software updates.” So it's pretty clear through there. It's also accessible in our help and support section. And we probably don't use it a lot internally: It's mainly just for external facing. Most of our internal stuff is done through Jira.
A Message to anyone sitting on the fence right now, wondering to sign up.
Just do it. I think you've got nothing to lose in it and all to gain from it. Customer-led or customer-centric focus around development is so important and this is a really good way to get that happening within your company and your business. So yeah, now more than ever, you need to listen to your customers. You need to understand what they want in your products and having a roadmap and a feature request and a change log that's really clear and really visible to your customers is important. So just do it.
It was great to speak with Justin and hear about his amazing approach to treating customers as stakeholders.
If you’re ready to do the same - you can get set up in minutes and try FeedBear free for 14 days. No credit card is required.