Connect with the amazing community surrounding the Omni Group’s award-winning products.

May 30, 2023, 6 a.m.
Marley Wissner, Support Human

Today we chat with one of the Omni Groups' Support Humans, Marley Wissner. If you've ever wondered what happens after someone shares a question, comment, or feature request - Marley’s here to peel back the curtain.

Show Notes:

In this enlightening discussion, Marley shares his journey at the Omni Group, his day-to-day roles, and the fascinating process that takes place behind the scenes in handling customer feedback (Hint: It involves the "Potato-Tron").

Marley explains how the Omni Group utilizes this valuable feedback to improve its suite of productivity tools. He gives us an inside look into how the team prioritizes user requests, the challenges faced, and how they strive to incorporate ideas into their software updates.

Some other people, places, and things mentioned in this episode:

- OmniGraffle Test Builds
- OmniFocus
- OmniGraffle Main Page
- OmniOutliner
- OmniPlan


Andrew J. Mason: You are listening to The Omni Show where we connect with the amazing communities surrounding the Omni Group's award-winning products. My name's Andrew J. Mason, and today we have Technical Support Specialist for the Omni Group, Marley Wissner. Welcome everyone to this episode of The Omni Show. My name's Andrew J. Mason, and today we have Marley Wissner, Technical Support Specialist with the Omni Group. If you've ever wondered what happens next, after somebody sends in a question or a comment, we're excited to peel back the curtain with Marley and take that inside look. Marley, thank you so much for joining us today.

Marley Wissner: Yeah, absolutely. I'm excited to be here.

Andrew J. Mason: So for starters, talk to us about how did you get hired? How long have you been there? Give us a little bit of that backstory.

Marley Wissner: Yeah, so I've been at Omni for about a year and a half and I actually came across it on Indeed and it was funny, I always talk to April about this, but when I saw the job board I thought it was fake because one of the questions is in Russian and it's how to respond with customers and how to get over the language barrier thing. So I just went with it.

Andrew J. Mason: Okay, so an interview question was not in the original language of the rest of the job application. What was the question about? How did you approach it?

Marley Wissner: It was just a basic OmniFocus question, but just in Russian. So it just looked odd. Everything else looked normal questions that you'd fill out before and then seeing that you're like, "Oh yeah."

Andrew J. Mason: I did just laugh, but it actually is a pretty genius move. Is that it's to test to see how resourceful you are, right?

Marley Wissner: Exactly.

Andrew J. Mason: So how did you get around that?

Marley Wissner: Honestly, I think I translated it and just sent back the translation.

Andrew J. Mason: That's perfect. And honestly, you're here, so I feel like, you had to have done something right with that. Walk us through a typical day. How does a typical day look for you?

Marley Wissner: So it used to be a little more structured. It's a little more loose right now because we have a new member of the team. We're trying to get him up to speed. Previously, I would get on and we had our little potato tron tell us what our phone or social media assignment was today. And since there was three of us, just cycled through, depending on how many calls we'd take a day.

Andrew J. Mason: Okay. I'm sorry, Potato tron? Potato tron? What is...

Marley Wissner: Okay. It took me a second when I first heard about it too, but when we were on a three person rotation, and of course, when Joseph, who isn't person number three, gets caught up, we'll be on it too. It's a little bot that just chooses who's on phones or social media. It's mostly tracks how many calls and how long the calls are, just so you're not coming off of maybe an hour worth of calls and then the next day you're back to another hour worth of calls. It helps people not be on the phone so often because as much as we do love phones, we don't know the question until we answer the phone. And that can be a little daunting, especially when you first start, you don't know the answer. I remember first starting with the phones, I just didn't know the answer and I'm like, "Well, let's move this to email so that I can..." Because with emails I have as much time as I need to figure out what's wrong, what I can troubleshoot and all that. But on the phone it's just off the spot. It just goes, hey, this is broken. Oh, what?

Andrew J. Mason: Okay, I totally understand that. You have a Zoom call for eight hours. Anybody who's sat in front of a screen for that long trying to answer and talk in real time, totally get it. And so, it is run by the potato.

Marley Wissner: It is. Who answers the phone is run by the potato overlord and that's it.

Andrew J. Mason: That's amazing. And how has your product knowledge increased over time? You said, when you first start out, there's every single issue that anybody could ever run into. How has that increased over time or has it?

Marley Wissner: I'm pretty good at answering three of the four apps, but when it comes to OmniPlan, I got to reach out to a couple of other team members to get that because product management, shocker, I'm not an expert in product management. So a lot of those terms go out the window for me. I'd say the majority of it is OmniFocus related, but then from there I think it goes Graffle, Outliner, and then Plan. We get a lot of Graffle, especially now because we're doing a little testing for 8.

Andrew J. Mason: Oh, that's right. And if you're a Grafffle power user, please jump in on that test build. Another thing you handle is feature requests. Tell us, do you have an idea of what the most requested feature is across all apps right now?

Marley Wissner: I want to say collaboration with OmniFocus is when I get calls about random assortments of things, sometimes twice from the same person. And I don't know if people know how our feature requests work, but we see them all. So I mean, support, we file every single one of them that we get.

Andrew J. Mason: So is there a log of how many times somebody requests the same thing?

Marley Wissner: Oh no, there is, there is. So in our database it actually tells us how many times it's been requested. We can go through them and we can see how many times a singular feature has been requested and by who.

Andrew J. Mason: That's so cool that it hits that level of detail. What do you do if you hit a question that you don't know the answer to?

Marley Wissner: I can start with Omni. We have a very, very, very smart man when it comes to this and his name is Shane and he knows everything that has to do with OmniPlan and thank God he's around because if he was not, then I would be lost with half the tickets that I have with OmniPlan.

Andrew J. Mason: Do you have an example of a really hard question?

Marley Wissner: Particularly hard? I think it was a couple months span where we had this bug that we kept getting and it requires you to replace your server database with OmniFocus because something would go corrupt.

Andrew J. Mason: So how do you approach that?

Marley Wissner: Yeah, the start of it was just figuring out, because I'd never seen it before, I guess everyone else had seen the error. So the first day it was funny, I was looking everywhere to try and figure this out and I had three people with it and halfway through the day I just go to my manager, April, and I'm just like, "Hey, what is it?" She goes, "Oh, it's this. It's two seconds. Here you go."

Andrew J. Mason: It's easy.

Marley Wissner: We have a boiler for this because it's happened before and it's a lot of, if I don't know something, the first thing you had to realize at this job is just ask questions.

Andrew J. Mason: I've always been curious when a test flight version of software comes out, is that something that you know in advance is coming or you see the test flight update and you're like, "This is now something I am offering support on."

Marley Wissner: Luckily, we have pretty great product managers who let us know when these are happening. Ainsley, Derek, always make sure that we know what's going in the test flight, what's changing in the test flight. In regards to actually knowing it, we don't go fully into the new test versions until they come out because they're always changing. So a lot of the test flight questions we get, we file and if it's a bug, we let them know. If it's a request, I think our test flight for OmniFocus 4 is 10,000 people. Luckily with OmniFocus, a lot of the stuff is where you think it is, so it doesn't take too long.

Andrew J. Mason: I remember this saying that says, in order to be an expert you have to just be at least one step ahead of everybody else. What do you do when something new like OmniFocus 4 comes out? Or even you're starting the job, how do you get up to speed the very first time?

Marley Wissner: It's a lot of reading. My first week was a lot of reading the OmniFocus manual and watching some videos from some of our power users. I don't think I took a ticket for the first week and a half because it's a lot of just, "Here, read this."

Andrew J. Mason: Something else I've always wondered is how do you know what experience level to assume when helping somebody with an issue?

Marley Wissner: Everybody's completely different when it comes to technical skill, so you got to realize that first. I mean, growing up my mom couldn't even use the remote control for the TV, so I had to always turn the TV on for her when she'd want to use it. It takes a little more to come off as sincere with email because as much wording as you can use, that was another thing because I'm from customer service in retail and it was customer facing, so I would always get the reaction immediately. It wasn't however many hours takes to get back to. It's just knowing people's technical limitations first and then moving from there. It just depends on the question you're getting, what's happening with whatever they're running into and going from there. So every person's different. I just start at zero. If they respond to me and they go, "Yep, I know this, this, this." I'm like, "Cool. I can level it up a bit." Of the times, I just go with the basic terminology. I don't use abbreviations for apps.

Andrew J. Mason: That's a really cool way to approach it is just building that bridge to wherever they are. At the end of the day, if you put your head on the pillow and you feel like you've had a successful day, what was true? What happened in your day that you're like, "You know what? I did good today."?

Marley Wissner: Getting through the emails from the previous day. When it was just the two of us for a bit, we were pretty far behind and we have a application called Support Load and it shows us color coded what everything looks like. So if it's, the more red you see is, it's not what you want to see, but like I said earlier, I think we try to get back within 24 hours. I also like to add that we don't cherry pick your questions, emails, tickets. It is just an order.

Andrew J. Mason: I know that's not any of our customers because we have the most awesome community on the planet, I believe. But hypothetically, systematically, were you to encounter a situation where you may not be interested in answering a certain question. You can't just be like, "I'm not going to talk to you today." It's just the next person, whoever the next person is.

Marley Wissner: Right, exactly. We just go right in order. The only people that get taken out of the order and put in front are people that are experiencing data loss or anything just urgent, which is why we call it urgent and I don't think people know that. So we do just go in order. That is it. And I do also like to let people know, I, and I think everyone else, when we get there, we go through the ones from yesterday and try to answer those before we take new tickets. So most of the time it is probably every 24 hours you're going to hear from us.

Andrew J. Mason: Marley, this has been great. I really appreciate the inside look to the other side of what happens when an email or call goes out to Omni and we have some of the best customers ever too. So that's what makes it great.

Marley Wissner: We have some really good ones. I especially love taking the phone calls of super nice people because I think one of the times I sat there and talked to a lady for, I want to say 15, 20 minutes just about where I used to live, which is San Diego, because she was calling from my old area code and I was like, "Oh hey, I recognize this." We get some really great people. Honestly, I think the amount of great people we get overweights the few flustered people that we get. And we do pass along the sentiment that you give us about our apps to the rest of the team. Sometimes people wonder if that actually happens. Yes, we do let the team know that what you like is really liked and enjoyed.

Andrew J. Mason: Well hey, I don't think I speak alone, but it might not be a vocal audible part that everybody gets to hear all the time. So on behalf of the Omni crew, thank you for getting the word out for clear understanding of how to use the products and then also from the customer's perspective, thank you for building that bridge to understanding both sides. We couldn't do it without you.

Marley Wissner: Well, thank you. It's nice to hear it. We hear it a lot, but it is still always nice to hear. But we're always here to help. That's what we do.

Andrew J. Mason: That's awesome. Thank you, Marley. Hey, and thank all of you for listening today too. You can find us on Mastodon at The Omni Show You can also find out everything that's happening with the Omni Group at