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A look into the resources at Sienci Labs and why it’s important for you and our business

Just last week we posted a video where Jason covers the ins and outs of our online resources that we’ve continued to put together over the years. I just wanted to highlight this video and talk bit more about why this is so important to us, and you as the user and community.

The resources pages has a single fundamental goal which is to encompass all of the information one may want to or need to know about our products. This includes the LongMill, the LaserBeam, all of our accessories, and gSender software. In essence we wanted to make it so that if a meteor fell on our office and all of the customer support team perished, our users would still have no problems assembling, using, and troubleshooting our products.

Probably the most important reason for these resources to exist is simply to help you, the user, to use the products we create. Many of our products require assembly, instructions, or additional guidelines to use and enjoy. Additionally, CNCing as a hobby in general comes with many things for a new user to learn, such as choosing bits, workholding, dust collection, and more. The resources contain information and guides on ALL OF THOSE THINGS.

Here are some things you can find in the resources pages:

  • What a spindle is and information on setting one up with the LongMill
  • How to set up an IOT relay
  • Open source design files, gerber files, CAD, and BOMs for many of our products and accessories
  • Speeds and feeds for our end mills
  • Demo projects and files
  • A wizard to help you choose which software to use with the LongMill

You can even search topics by keyword!

I’m not kidding when I say the resources just about covers everything you need to know, and will want to know. One of the main strategies in our resource development is to continually cross reference our resources from the questions that our community asks to make sure that we cover all of our bases.

This includes basic topics, as well as just about any type of troubleshooting that one can do for the LongMill and all of our other products. Although I don’t answer technical tickets and questions that often anymore (we have the rest of the engineers and our customer support team to help out with that now, thank goodness), I read every single ticket that comes in. I do this because:

  • It keeps me in the loop for any issues that may be production or quality related, such as a faulty part
  • It lets me update our CNC Issues and Fixes page whenever I see a new problem

Let me tell you, the CNC Issues and Fixes page actually covers more than 99% of the problems that LongMill users send in technical tickets for. Additionally, I’ve also included a link to an article I recently wrote that talks about common misconceptions about machine issues and some troubleshooting tips. Frankly, if people listened to what we had to say about troubleshooting their machines versus strangers, albeit very helpful and well meaning strangers, on the internet, it would save a lot of time for users to diagnose their machines. I am almost certain that if people looked at this Issues and Fixes page and actually went through to check the recommended solutions, we would have nearly zero troubleshooting tickets.

In fact, when training new customer support staff, we typically just get them to read over our resources so they get familiar with everything, and then use that as a starting point for helping customers.

So it turns out, the truly challenging part of making the resources isn’t putting together the information itself, but actually getting people to read it! And that is one of the reasons why Jason put out a video to help promote the resources site.

How our resources fits into our business model

One really important thing to know is that CNC support is a huge part of what people pay for when they buy any CNC machine. The technical support, troubleshooting calls, and customer service alone can account for 20% or more of the actual cost of the purchase price. In essence, anytime you ask for help, it’s coming out of your own pocket!

So you can see that reducing the human interaction time and cost means being able to pass those savings along to you. That’s why I strongly recommend that people check out our resources, since it saves the company money and saves you time. In this way, we can keep making affordable hardware while making sure we take care of our users.

As our company grows and scales, the customer service burden will continue to grow and may potentially be a bottleneck in our development. Additionally, while we currently have a very strong reputation for amazing customer service, it becomes more and more difficult to hold the same level of standard as a company grows larger. This is why investing in our online, self help resources, as well as making sure everyone is using it is so important for the long term.

It’s been challenging understanding the psyche of our users and how they use and navigate our resources, and I think there is still a long ways to go until we get to the point where everyone’s adopted using it. We’re exploring a couple different things, such as turning more of the resources into video content or creating an e-book, and hopefully a combination of these things will continue to improve engagement with our vast and growing resources.

Alas, thank you for reading this article, and happy making!