The Person Behind the Voice – Roxie Thoner

If you’ve ever called Red Wing Software, you’ve probably talked to Roxie Thoner. She’s been helping Red Wing Software customers get what they need for more than 21 years! We caught up with Roxie and asked her a few questions, so you can get to know her a little better.

  1. What has been your favorite part of working at Red Wing Software over the years?

    The people - we have a great group here which makes it fun. Also, things are always changing in the software industry so even though I’ve been here a while, there is always something new.

  2. What’s one of your favorite stories, having spoken with so many Red Wing Software customers?

    I feel like I have many friends I’ve never met all around the country. I have to laugh when I answer the phone and someone who hasn’t called in years says, “Roxie I can’t believe you are still there.” I think they are happy I’m still here!

  3. Tell us a little bit about your twin grandsons!

    Ezra and Ashton are our 1st (and 2nd) grandchildren and are 14 months old. It’s so much fun to watch them interact with each other. They are mobile now and what one of them doesn’t think of the other one does. I hope I can keep up with them. Everyone told us being grandparents is the best and they were right.

  4. What do you like to do outside of work?

    Well, when I can’t go visit the grandsons, I enjoy working in my flower gardens, sitting around a bonfire and visiting with friends. Now that we are empty nesters, I’m hoping to do some quilting. I like to travel and am currently looking forward to visiting a former co-worker who now lives in Alaska this August.

Questions for Your Business

I thought instead of telling you what I think in this blog post, I would just ask some questions to provoke some thought. I think you’ll likely know what I think by reading the questions I ask. Are you running your business, or is your business running you?

Do you control the expenses in your business by operating from a budget, or do you operate “seat of the pants”?

Do you have processes in place (and documented) for internal job functions, or do you assume everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing?

You know that everyone in your organization has certain responsibilities. Have they been clearly communicated, and do the people in your organization know they have these responsibilities?

Do you know the true cost of items that you produce or buy for resale, including indirect costs?

Do you know your most profitable items and those items that are not so profitable and maybe should be discontinued?

Do you know your businesses key financial ratios, what they mean, and where the danger levels are?

Do you analyze the return on new asset purchases before the purchase has been made?

If you think you have good answers to all of these questions, good for you. I challenge you to continually ask these questions throughout the year, and improve operations through better management.

At Red Wing Software, we evaluate our position and try to answer these questions regularly. We feel that once we think we know all the answers, we stop improving.

With all of the efforts to advance technology, have we sacrificed good old fashioned customer service?

In the past decade, we have seen technology in all forms expand faster than the speed of sound. We have expanded our lingo to include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, we discuss our memory capacity in our Smartphone’s, iPods and iPads, we save to the “Cloud” and read our books on a Kindle. Our encyclopedias have been recycled in favor of Google, Wikipedia and the like, and we keep in touch with friends, family, classmates and mere acquaintances on Facebook. Remember when an apple was something you ate? I can’t believe all of the exciting innovations technology has shown us in my lifetime. Like everyone else, I thrive on all it has to offer. However, there is a downside to all of this technical wizardry, and that’s the change that has occurred in customer service. I recently called my cell phone carrier to inquire about removing my son from our phone plan. He is a college graduate, making his way in the workforce, and finally his phone is up for renewal so he can have his own plan. After calling the 800 number and “speaking” with an automated voice that answered my call, I quickly realized the trade-off we sacrifice in the name of technology. I spent a good few minutes repeating to the “voice” on the phone that I wanted to speak with a customer representative, no-go, the voice couldn’t understand my request. I tried the word agent, support, technician and finally I said I wanted to purchase a phone, a-ha, those were the magic words that got me to a real person. It took over ten minutes and I finally reached someone to help me with my request. I now realize why our customers are so happy with our customer support. At Red Wing Software, we have worked hard to be a progressive company in the technology world, but we work equally as hard to offer customers the personalized service they have always known and should expect!

Choosing New Features: A Note of Thanks to Partners and Customers

I want to use my space in this blog post to thank the many people that help us develop and deliver quality products that meet the needs of our customers. The people I’m talking about are the partners and customers that participate in our focus groups, and offer suggestions for improvements to our products.

As we continually work to improve any of our supported products, we use a documented process that includes reviewing all of the suggestions that have been submitted by the users of that particular product. We maintain a database of those suggestions, and have several design meetings involving staff members from every appropriate department in the organization.

As we finalize the new product features, we include a group of partners and customers to help us be assured that what we are implementing in the new software is actually what the market needs. We, of course, can’t include each and every suggestion to a product in any one release, but continue to review all suggestions received by our organization.

Thanks to all that participate in this process, and keep those ideas flowing.

Failing to plan

You’ve heard the saying “people don’t plan to fail, they just fail to plan”. Well, that’s not always true. Several years ago, (long enough that the statute of limitations has long passed), I was on the board of a not-for-profit organization that would consistently budget a negative cash flow for the year. They didn’t want to lose money, and didn’t think they would lose money, but they always planned to lose money. I didn’t understand that philosophy. I am certainly in favor of conservative budgeting, so if something doesn’t quite go according to plan, there are still prospects of survival.

Now that we’re in the New Year, you should have your plan for 2012 in place and have started executing that plan. Some businesses have to start executing their plan long before the beginning of any calendar period by buying inputs for commodities they grow or parts for finished goods they produce. In this case, their plan has to be more perpetual than based on a twelve month period. While I don’t believe the old Wall Street movie that proclaimed “greed is good”, I also don’t believe profit is a four-letter word. The best thing we can do for ourselves, the people that work in our companies, our local communities, and our country, is to plan to be successful and execute the plan. So, don’t fail to plan, and don’t plan to fail.