Firehose Blog


Almost Ready

We're very close to being ready to roll out 1) A redesigned browser app 2) A new browser app to manage settings 3) A knowledge base. Its been a huge effort to get all of this updated, but once it is, we can start to roll out incremental improvements more often. Thanks for using Firehose!

Web App

Hope everyone had some great holidays. I'm working on refactoring the browser app so that it has the new conversation view, as well as other enhancements. Alex is working the first version of our knowledge base. Andrew is mastering elastic search so that our search is wicked fast. Parker is helping me with the web app. We've gotten caught up in unexpected but needed refactoring, so new features have been slow coming, but we're all working really hard so knees loose, they're coming :)

Firehose for Mac 2.0

To download, open your current Mac app and choose "Check for Updates" or download it from getfirehose.com

Thanks everyone!

Re-Done Mac App

The re-written Mac app is done, were just using it internally to make sure its solid. If youd like to beta test it, email me at adam@mysterioustrousers.com

Missed Deadlines

We're sorry about the missed predictions on when some new features would be available. We've hit a few snags. Starting relatively soon we'll have another full time developer to help increase velocity, so we should be able to start upping the pace we improve the service. Thanks for using Firehose!

Private Facebook Messages

If you have a Facebook page for your business, users can send private messages to your page. Firehose now pulls those messages in and let's you reply to them from Firehose. We needed additional permissions for this so make sure you go to settings and re-authorize your Facebook accounts.

Update

This week we hope to launch our simple v1 of our knowledge base.

By wednesday we hope to have added the ability to fetch private Facebook messages.

By the end of the week we hope to add the ability to favorite tweets and like facebook posts.

By the end of next week, we're aiming to release the rebuilt mac app. Its coming together and it will be solid and awesome.

Mid december we should have a really great ios7 update out for the iPhone/iPad app.

Send your feature requests and questions in to drycleanonly@mysterioustrousers.com

Lack of updates

Sorry for the lack of updates. Everyone on the team is working hard on something big. Im rewriting the mac app the use AppKit, this should make it much more stable and mac- friendly to use. Parker is finishing up the new conversation view for the browser app. Andrew is mastering ElasticSearch to make searching your content fast and Alex is building out a simple version 1 of our knowledge base. As always, rob is collaborating with everyone regarding the UX of what they are working on. The KB should be launched this week or next. The mac app next week. No other estimates.

Character Count (Mac)

This most recent Mac app update adds a character count display to the response text view.

Customer Count (Mac)

A new bar has been added at the bottom of the customer list of the Mac app showing how many customers are shown and how many there are total. We also fixed a bug where opening attachments opened the wrong one.

Keyboard Shortcut Fixes (Mac)

If you've missed the keyboard shortcuts on the response text view since our new design overhaul ( like cmd+enter to send), go to Firehose > Check for updates… because we've pushed a fix for it.

Announcing: Email Forwarding
(And Boy Is It Snappy)

Firehose is a fantastic tool for providing customer support via email, and today we want to up the ante.

Up until now, we've only offered one method of getting your emails into Firehose: fetching. If you're unfamiliar with the term 'fetching' it basically means that Firehose uses your email account's IMAP/POP3 credentials to contact the server where your email account's inbox resides and download email messages.

Fetching, however, has some significant drawbacks. It's extremely error-prone, we can only fetch your emails every ten minutes, and it's extremely slow. This has been a big thorn in our side for some time, so we're pleased to announce a new feature that will solve all these problems plus much more!

Enter Email Forwarding

Email forwarding essentially allows you to configure an email account provider to forward all email messages for a particular email account to an obfuscated email address Firehose provides you with. With this configuration in place, the moment Firehose receives a forwarded message it immediately notifies you via a desktop notification so that you can handle email interactions that much faster.

Email forwarding represents a huge speedup improvement over fetching because you no longer have to wait 10 minutes between receiving new email messages. And what's more, adding a new forwarding account or converting an existing fetching account to a forwarding account is a piece of cake in Firehose Settings, so give it a go! We recommend all existing and future customers use forwarding, though we still support fetching.

If You're Still Not Sold on Email Forwarding

After you've set up a forwarding email account, the Mac app (and soon iOS) will let you know the instant a forwarded message arrives via notifications that look like this:

Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 7.11.26 PM.png

Additionally, if you use the web version of Firehose on Safari and allow "firehoseapp.com" to show alerts in the Notification Center:

Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 6.59.20 PM.png

The web version will also let you know the moment it receives a forwarded email message via desktop notifications that look like this:

 

Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 7.05.42 PM.png

Adding a Forwarding Email Account is Simple

All that's required to setup a new forwarding email account is an address and a title:

Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 6.24.36 PM.png

Once created, you then need to go to this email account's provider and configure it to forward incoming email messages to an obfuscated email address that we provide you with:

Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 6.50.29 PM.png

All that's left after that is to wait for instantaneous email message goodness :)

You Can Convert an Existing Email Account from Fetching to Forwarding

If you'd like to convert an existing email account from fetching to forwarding, go to Firehose Settings, click the email account's edit button, and then click on the button labeled "Convert to forwarding account". After the email account has been converted from fetching to forwarding in Firehose, you will need to configure the email account's provider to forward messages to the obfuscated email address we provide you with.

Our Hopes

We have been using email forwarding for the past month now and it has been a breath of fresh air. We hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

Most of all, we hope email forwarding helps you respond more quickly to customers so they become your loyal fans!

Making Email Interactions More Friendly

In an effort to help your company's name get better recognized in your customers' inboxes, we've added a title field to email accounts that can be customized to your heart's content.

All you need to do is go to Firehose Settings and either create a new email account or update an existing one. Fill in the new title field with whatever you like:

New Title Field.png

And Voilà!

This is what your customers will see when they receive an email from you in Apple Mail:

Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 5.38.42 PM.png

In Gmail: 

Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 5.37.39 PM.png
Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 5.46.16 PM.png

And in Outlook.com to demonstrate a few: 

Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 5.35.07 PM.png

Enjoy!

Published API

We've published our API documentation here: https://github.com/mysterioustrousers/firehose-docs

We'd love to hear how you use it or how it can be improved!

Transient

Customer List Facelift (Mac)

We've given the customer list a facelift. Instead of showing a red bubble for everyone who is flagged, we are only showing the bubble if you are flagged and a small number by the flag to indicate the total number flagged.

You can right click on a customer and copy to your pasteboard a direct link to the customer opened in either the Mac app (or iOS if they tap the link on their device) or web app.

Lastly, you can now just hit the delete key to close a customer and remove them from the unresolved list.

Enjoy!

Transient
Transient
Transient

Deleting Customers

We're about to roll out an update that allows you to delete customers forever. It'll be obvious how to do this when you get the update. The Mac App will be updated first and the web app quickly after. So here are some scenarios:

Unresolved Customer

This is someone who appears in your customer list no matter what. The "Unresolved Only" focuses on these customers. These are real people who need your help.

Resolved Customer

This is someone you have successfully helped. If no response text fields appear in the conversation view and all agents have been un-flagged from all of the customers incoming messages, the customer is resolved and is grouped together into your entire list of customers.

Non-customer Messages

This happens if, for example you get a billing receipt come into Firehose. We currently have no way to automatically deal with this, but we will be implementing rules soon and you'll be able to automatically resolve these. Ideally you would set up another email to get non-customer support requests, but theres always exceptions.

Spam

If you get a message you don't ever want to see, especially if its something you'd never want your company to be associated with, then you can delete it forever. You will never see it again.

We hope you find this useful.

Knowledge Base

We're about to start work on doing "Knowledge Base" right. If you've got requests and feedback for what you'd like to see us build, nows the time to speak up.

Mantra

We've adopted the mantra of "turning customers into fans" and we've been marching to it for a few weeks now. We're not so much talking about our customers, although we do strive to turn our customers into fans, this is more about helping our customers, you, turn your customers into fans. Our job is simple, provide a service that helps you turn your customers into fans of your company. This means, everything we do, we ask ourselves, "Will this help turn customers into fans?" We've canned a few really good ideas because when it came down to it, there was no reasonable argument for it. Stick with us and we'll provide you with the solutions you need to turn your customers into paint-their-faces-your-company-colors die-hard fans.

Bubbles

New Conversation View

Introducing our all new conversation view. It reminds you of chat you say? Well that's sort of the idea.

Why

We are going to add live chat, and instead of creating a separate UI for it, we decided it belonged with everything else. We're treating it as just another channel. Our thought is, that should allow all of us to care less about how a customer is contacting us and focus more on responding quickly.

Switching Directions

Chat would definitely feel weird in the opposite direction than we are all use to, most recent at the bottom. But, email feels weird unless the most recent is at the top, like we had it before. So, we had to make a choice, and we decided we wanted to make everything feel the same, and we wanted everything to feel like chat. So we punted on choosing and decided e-mail doesn't need to be distinguished as e-mail. We thought it'd be great if we could just "chat" with customers, hopefully in "real-time" as possible, no matter the channel.

Simplified & Better

We've reduced chrome and focused on uniformity. Each chat bubble has an avatar by it to easily see what the customer is saying and what the agent is saying. We've also made it possible to attach notes to any bubble, which you might find useful.

Note: Agent avatars are pulled from Gravatar. We may support our own in the future, but maybe not. Im secretly glad Github forced me to start using Gravatar :)

Markdown

We've added markdown support for formatting your outgoing responses. Theres no way to format a Tweet or a Facebook post, so its only useful for e-mail right now. When add live chat, we'll likely support it there too.