This is a long post, so here’s the summary:

* We’re going to work on the things you have told us to work on in 2018

* Skip to the bottom for some exciting news!

Just before Christmas, we once again asked our customers for feedback about Consonance and the service you receive from us, using a short form. We asked you for a score out of ten in response to the question how likely are you to recommend Consonance to another publisher? Then we asked you why you gave that score: What do you like and what still needs to be improved. We also asked what one thing would you like us to focus on in 2018. The results are in, and this post shares with you the results, and what we’re doing about them. Once our customers have all read this post and we have discussed any follow ups, we’ll make this post public.


91.5% of respondents gave us at least 5 out of 10, with 61% giving us at least 8 out of 10. Those numbers are fine as far as they go, but the real actionable meat of the feedback is in the written comments, so that’s where we focussed.

We took the comments, and broke them down so that each time something in particular was mentioned, it received a count: +1 for a positive, -1 for a negative. For example, the following answer was broken down into +1s for

  • +1 Intuitiveness
  • +1 Everything in one place
  • +1 Staff support

And the next answer broke down into

  • -1 Navigation
  • -1 Validations

The feedback split into the following categories:

Existing features:

  • Metadata
  • Schedules
  • Gantt
  • Contracts
  • Production
  • Royalties
  • Contacts
  • Briefings
  • Imports
  • Exports
  • P&L
  • Works
  • Search
  • Validations

New feature requests:

  • Journal management
  • Tagging
  • Summaries / dashboards

Integrations, imports and exports:

  • Shopify integration
  • Marketing materials


  • Data entry usability
  • Data entry duplication
  • Speed
  • Navigation
  • Design
  • Notifications
  • Everything in one place
  • Intuitiveness
  • Pagination on index pages


  • Communication
  • Client data specific
  • Staff support
  • Price
  • Documentation

A note on the response rate

Thank you so much to the 56% of invitees who took the time to so carefully and generously share their thoughts with us. If this summary doesn’t reflect your own feelings about the system then please do let us know at the next survey. These surveys, followed by the support tickets we receive, are the number one way we prioritise our development work. And, according to the stats, the form took an average of 5:39 minutes to complete, so not too awful! If you want to have a say in how we develop Consonance, the surveys are the best way to let us know, although our ears are always open: raise a ticket to share your thoughts!


Here are the main insights that we took away.

  • The single most popular thing about Consonance is that it provides everything in one place.

  • The other things you like are the design and the intuitiveness of the system.

  • The main things you think need work are schedules and data entry.

Key insights

These are the key actionable learnings we have taken from this analysis and used as the basis for our 2018 work plan.

1) Documentation We could do a better job of keeping the user documentation up to date. We push new code almost daily, and it can be a challenge to actually document and notify people about the changes.

What we’re doing about it: We knew we were falling a bit behind on documentation, but for it to be raised as a concern in feedback makes it a big priority. So work has started on improving the infrastructure of the docs, to make them more appealing for us to maintain, and also to make them more consistent. There will be a newly edited version of the docs, with new content and radically improved search, coming in the first half of this year.

Hand-in-hand with documentation goes support. In a review of roles at the start of this year, we have decided that I, as CEO, am best placed to be on duty on the front line, picking up all the tickets. We are big fans of the Customer Success movement, and, by having the chief decision maker fully aware of the ebbs and flows of customer sentiment, we can make sure we keep customers at the heart of the business. It’s a golden opportunity to extend the conversation from just the issue at hand to rootle around in and solve the underlying problems. And it makes the customer service function much more strategic: now I have a very clear insight into both the detail of what customers are grappling with and the larger swathes of their experience, which will feed in to future planning. First response time is down to just over 5 hours (down by 18 hours, gosh) too.

The takeaway? Raise a ticket if you want affect how we work!

2) Schedules are too complex and hard to use.

What we’re doing about it: We’ve heard that you find schedules – particularly the Gantt view – unfriendly to use, and we’ve been working with a core team of customer representatives who are being kind enough to spend time with us to capture the specifics. The survey was taken before the Christmas break, and since then we have released two new important improvements: a new tasks page and a new schedules page. There’s a write up of the work so far, but it’s still work in progress. Please use the new schedules and tasks pages, and tell us what’s still lacking – we’d love to hear from you so we can continue to improve this feature. Notably, if you choose to have a simple schedule with no dependencies between tasks, you can now edit the dates entirely through tables rather than using the Gantt chart.

UPDATE, January 2019: To-dos are now live and schedules are on the path to retirement! Thanks for the feedback! UPDATE, October 2019: Schedules are now retired from the system!

3) Data entry. Much work in 2017 focussed on being able to find and review data better, resulting in a well-received new pattern for pages such as the products, the contacts and the tasks pages, and being able to get data out, resulting in huge performance improvements behind the scenes in ONIX and in a new Advance Information Sheet default. However, being able to get data in remains at the core of the system and there’s still work to be done. A detailed reading of your feedback here reveals that are two things at play, here: the ease with which you can get your data into the system, and the confidence you have about whether this means it’s complete, accurate, timely and optimised for sales.

What we’re doing about it: Two things.

First, Sara is nearly ready to launch her simply amazing spreadsheet contact data importer, and then will start work on another importer for product data. I won’t steal her thunder on it and there will be a full write up soon: suffice to say you will be able to upload, validate and clean contact data from a spreadsheet in Consonance. Game changer.

Second, Andy has just started work on a major new feature which will allow you to check your data in Consonance against any number of rules, and receive actionable feedback about how complete, relevant and accurate your data is. We’re looking at the start of summer for this to be ready for prime time.

UPDATE, January 2019: Data checks went live last summer! Thanks for the feedback!

There will still be more work to do, particularly on the Metadata page. And of course these projects aren’t the only work we do. There is:

But both these major strategic efforts will help you to produce better data in a shorter amount of time, in order to sell more books, which is why we have chosen this prioritisation.

Where these plans sit in the wider picture

Customer success is at the heart of what we do, because our own success and revenue model is predicated on recurring revenue from customers sticking with us.

  • Our value proposition is to provide one version of the truth to the sorts of publishers we feel we can help best, so that they achieve their desired outcomes over time and stay with us year after year.
  • We say no to potential customers who we feel have a different desired outcome to that which we know we can support – because we know they won’t be successful and won’t renew.
  • We use many channels to keep the conversation flowing between us and our customers, and have multiple touch points to actively solicit ever-changing feedback. ZenDesk tickets, this survey, specific projects and scheduled calls are just a few of those channels.
  • Our key activities revolve around building the right system to make our customers successful.

So you can imagine how important the results of our surveys are to us. It’s high customer retention that has driven our results over the last few years (you’ll have to email me privately to ask about the y-axis scale!)

And finally

As part of our endeavours to keep the conversation flowing, we are excited to be organising a Customer Conference in 2018. We hope everyone will be able to make it and so, to help our planning, we would be super-happy if you could let us know what would make it a great day out for you on our survey. We’ll look forward to seeing you there!

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