Illustration of the shared channels experience in Buffer

A Leaky Bucket

Talent Inc. relies on a vast network of contract career services professionals to write resumés for its customers. Writers are expected to adhere to brand standards for document quality and formatting, and to communicate with clients using a confusing and outdated order management system. This legacy platform, along with a low-touch onboarding process causes confusion and frustration for new hires, leading to high drop-out rates and a costly recruitment process.
This worked well until it didn't — until we recognized that we were shipping our team structure to customers and causing confusion. We wanted customers to use all of our products, but we weren't making it easy to do so. We needed to simplify by unifying the applications into one product experience: one plan and setup flow utilizing shared business assets. In order to use Buffer, customers must connect a social account (aka: a "channel"), so we decided to start there. This project was Step 1 to fully realizing our longer term product strategy — one Buffer.

Walking the walk

I put myself in our writers' shoes by dogfooding our own experience: anonymously signing up, going through our onboarding process, and fulfilling three orders for real clients. I documented my frustrations along the way, and then interviewed other writers and the editorial team to nail down the highest friction points. The biggest issues were feeling:


I was sent 4 emails on day 1 with an overwhelming number of links to follow, articles to read, and teams to keep straight. This felt like work I wasn't getting paid for.


I had very limited contact with any real people, and I didn't know where to turn to when I had questions.


The QA process was unclear, and my clients were asking me a lot of questions I didn't know how to answer. I was billed as an "expert" by Talent Inc., but I didn't feel like one.

Putting the writer experience first

Though all of the resumé writers were working as independent contractors, we wanted them to feel like they were part of a team. They should feel like someone has their back, and so—the Writer Advocate Program was born.
Each new writer is connected with a member of our editorial team who picks up the phone to welcome them to the network, shed some light on next steps, and answer any questions.
This mentor will handpick their first few orders, guide them through the QA process (when their work is reviewed), and ensure they feel comfortable delivering work to clients.
With an eye towards scalability, I redesigned the entire email experience for new hires. We captured events to use as triggers for sending educational emails—telling writers what they need to know when it's actionable. Event examples: taking your first order, submitting your first draft, hearing back from QA.
We got rid of the lengthy, plain text emails and developed a more user-friendly, branded HTML campaign delivered through the persona of our writer network manager, Caleb.
Email signature: beforeEmail signature: after
The tone is supportive and encouraging, with a focus on how Talent Inc. can bring value to them. In bite-size chunks, we help writers understand the entire Talent Inc. ecosystem and writing process, positioning the QA process as a value-add that will make them experts in their field.
Tablet view of an onboarding email
This campaign nudges new hires through our onboarding process, providing greater capacity for Talent Inc. to fulfill orders and bolstering the earning potential of freelancers.

Increased capacity

As a result, onboarding time decreased 40%, we strengthened the bonds between our editorial team and our freelance resumé writers, and saw a reduction in overall attrition.