For some (this writer included), dogs go beyond being just pets. Dogs are our cuddle bugs, our hiking buddies, our protectors, and our goofballs. They're our family.
Back in 2012, three crazy dog people, Henrik, Carly, and Matt, launched BarkBox, a dog treats, toys, and gifts subscription box. More than just gathering up existing toys and products and sending them out, the team created their own line of dog products; from close-to-indestructible toys to photogenic costumes, BarkBox has something for every dog.
BarkBox doesn't stop at subscription boxes, either: There's Barkshop.com, where you can purchase toys, treats, and gifts for dog people, and BarkBox's charitable donations program to shelters and rescues, who receive 10 percent of BarkBox's profits.
Handling the subscription service, donation requests for dog-related events, training requests, and even in-office dog time requires BarkBox to work as efficiently as they can. No business starts off at 100% efficiency, but Miranda Short, Quality Assurance Lead at BarkBox, found ways to automate workflows and reminders wherever she could.
"I started off on our customer experience team [known in BarkBox as the Happy Team] as the CX Process Coordinator, primarily doing customer journey mapping, process improvement, bug reporting and escalation," Miranda explains. "I was responsible for all data-related issues, improving the way our Happy Ambassadors operate."
Finding a better way forward was Miranda's main goal—and she wanted to do it without taking resources from BarkBox's dev team. Helping her along the way was app automation tool Zapier.
Handle Donations Automatically: Send Google Form Responses to Zendesk
While BarkBox makes it easy for shelters and rescues to receive donations by way of an affiliate program, they also accept donation requests from dog-related events and organizations throughout Canada and the United States.
If a fundraiser or gala or a similar event pops up that supports dogs, the organizers can reach out to BarkBox for donations. Each request needs to be vetted and approved to ensure proceeds will truly benefit dogs. With a playing field as large as the United States and Canada, the requests add up fast. Understandably, the approval process was causing a bit of a bottleneck for Miranda.
"I didn't have the time to fulfill each request as they came in or delegate them, and I definitely didn't have the time when I had 60+ waiting to be approved," she explains. Miranda turned to Zapier to help lighten the load with a Zap—a bridge between two or more apps.
"I set up a Zap to create each unique Google Form response as a new ticket on our support desk, Zendesk, so that a team of [customer experience] reps could handle them without me having to manually delegate each time," Miranda says.
Because this Zap sends the form responses directly to BarkBox's customer experience team, Miranda has sped up the donation approval process, giving more rescues and shelters access to the affiliate program.
Set Up Daily Reminders with Google Calendar and Slack
Close your eyes and imagine the greatest possible office ever. If it didn't include dogs galore, you imagined the wrong office. BarkBox lets its employees bring their pups to work. If you've spent time at a doggy day care or a dog park, you have an idea of how chaotic a bunch of dogs can be when they get together.
That's why BarkBox has specific on- and off-leash periods. When an off-leash period approaches, Google Calendar triggers Zapier to send a notification through Slack. This message reminds the team when it's time to put away food and pick up anything off the floor they don't want in the mouth of a (dozen) dog(s).
Miranda replicates this all-purpose Zap for any recurring notification she needs to send to the entire BarkBox team on Slack, including meetings and shift and on-call reminders.
Send Emails from Google Calendar Event Start Times
Close your eyes again. This time, imagine what it'd be like to work from home, surrounded by your dogs. Pretty nice, right? Beyond bring dogs to work, BarkBox also gives their employees the option to work from home. Usually, this is a-OK. But sometimes, an employee requests to work from home on the same day they're scheduled for a training session.
"Being remote makes it difficult to participate, especially for the hands-on training," Miranda says. "We set up a Zap based on a few filters to automatically email the agent when they submit a work from home request. An email will be sent if Zapier finds a calendar event on our training calendar with the agent's email in the invite."
This email gives the agent a friendly reminder that they have a training session scheduled, because who hasn't forgotten a meeting before? (Use BarkBox's Google Calendar - Slack Zap from the previous section to make that problem a thing of the past.)
Dogs are agents of chaos. Lovely, cuddly, and funny, but agents of chaos nonetheless. Miranda found a way to cut through chaos with Zapier. Now, donation requests flow from one system to another seamlessly, cutting down the wait time for pup-supporting events. Employees are reminded when it's time to leash their dogs or let them run wild, and if someone requests to work from home, Zapier will make sure they know if they'll be missing hands-on training.
Now that Miranda has made the move from the customer experience team to working on the dev team, she's taken the time to bring more BarkBox employees into Zapier: "I've recruited many other team members to get their hands dirty in this excellent tool," she says, chief among those the Happy Team's Internal Communications Coordinator, who has picked up where Miranda left off in creating more efficient ways forward.
The time it takes to build a Zap and automate your workflows is nothing compared to the time you spend with repetitive tasks, in BarkBox's opinion. "Spending a few hours creating the Zap is always worth it," Miranda says.
All images courtesy of BarkBox.