Our customers can be unexpectedly, hilariously great sometimes. It’s not at all uncommon for one of us on the support team to post something a customer said in Campfire, because “this lady just made my day!” or “this guy was so funny and nice!”
Now, we’re empowered to do right by our customers, so that’s part of it—we can all take care of billing issues or ID merges or whatever our users need without going to a manager. (Psst: there is no manager.) When we’re able to fix a problem within a few minutes or we prove to be real people rather than robots, that tends to pleasantly surprise people, and they react accordingly. Awesomeness begets awesomeness.
Super speedy, plain and clear communication – didn’t feel like a call-centre experience – was quite obvious that Jim knew what he was talking about rather than just reading from a script. Got the exact answers and actions that I needed. Not used to this level of service – feel a bit dazed ;-)
But we don’t deserve all the credit. Our customers just tend to be savvy, and kind, and they consistently disprove the popular consensus that people on the Internet suck.
No problem. Machines don’t mess up near as often as often as people. So odds are I just didn’t save it correctly. Thank you again for your time and trying to help.
Chase answered my question quickly and completely. He also threw in “have an awesome Tuesday” which is a mildly absurd thing thing to wish someone as it is usually weekends which are “awesome”. I’m gonna run with it though and try to make this day “awesome”. I already high-fived my dog. He seemed confused.
A surprising number of folks write back just to say thank you. They don’t have to—it’s our job to help. But it’s still nice to hear and gives us warm fuzzies.
You know what Kristin, you just made my day … and restored my faith (a bit) in our species.
Sometimes they go beyond that, even. Out of gratitude or wackiness or whatever, they send us photos and videos of their pets, or links to memes.
Thank you. I attached a flying unicorn to show my appreciation.
Some of our San Francisco customers know Merissa is a huge Giants fan, and a few submitted support tickets to tell her they were excited for her during the 2012 World Series. People will sometimes write in just to say they love Basecamp, or to wish us happy holidays.
Just want to say Merry Christmas guys … we’ve been using Basecamp for many years and continue to love the service. Keep up the good work and hope to be on your service for years to come. Here’s a big thank you. Thanks to the web-based nature of work I can stay in touch while getting some awesome snow on holiday in Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan!
Those of us in support are here because we genuinely enjoy helping—but you folks make it easy. Thanks!
I left my newspaper job in 2007, in part because I wanted to go on a three-week trip.
There was no way to accommodate my being out of the office that long — working remotely was so completely out of the question that the possibility was never even mentioned — so I gave my notice, and the paper lost a valued (I think!) employee.
This year, when I told my boss I was thinking about going to Europe for the summer, his response was something to the effect of “oh, cool. Have fun.”
When you’re already an offsite employee (my house is about 1,000 miles from the Chicago office), for a company that extols the benefits of a remote team, it doesn’t much matter where you’re working from. I took advantage of that flexibility and spent my summer working from Scotland, England, France, and Ireland.
For 37signals, the main advantage of a remote workforce is the ability to attract and hire the best people, no matter where they live. But for me, remote work is a major employment benefit. More than a 401k, more than a health care plan — the fact I no longer have to save up vacation time to take one or two short trips a year is huge. I don’t have to wait until someone gets married or dies before I can go see my family — I can just go see them, and work while I’m there. If my girlfriends are going to Mexico for a week but we’re slammed in customer support, I don’t have to choose between letting down my pals or letting down my team. Gone are the days of spending precious PTO on obligatory holiday travel, resenting how I’ve still never seen Vietnam.
I mostly stayed with AirBnB hosts, anywhere from a few days to a few weeks at a time. Since all I need for my work is my computer and a reliable Internet connection, I just made sure before I booked each place that I’d be able to get online.
Sure, there were snags. If I did it again, I’d want to be more on top of the schedule, more available by phone, and more certain of an always-reliable Internet connection. I felt guilty toward my team and our customers whenever issues along those lines arose. My next computer will likely be an Air — the MacBook Pro is great, but probably packs more oomph than I need, and it’s a bit of a beast to lug around. And I’ll likely be more mentally prepared to work different hours from the rest of my team. Euro hours are quieter and I could get a lot done, but they’re also kind of lonely when you’re used to hanging out in Campfire with your work buddies all day. Of course, now that we’ve hired a few folks overseas, that may be a moot point.
Overall, though, I found my work was highly portable. I could always get what I needed, and my team and my company were super-supportive. I had an amazing time, and felt beyond lucky to work for a company that lets me — encourages me, even — to live a life like this.
They make every step easy: I can manage my orders online through their killer site, deliveries come right to my door, and everything is guaranteed. (My teammate Merissa uses Greenling too, and once live-chatted with a rep after receiving some apples that had gone soft—they apologized, refunded the charge on the spot and gave her 10 percent off her next order.) When I first became a customer, they checked in with me to make sure everything was going well. My delivery guy is always cheerful and asks whether there’s anything else they can do.
Greenling claims “We believe good relationships are the foundation for every successful service and we build them to last.” And they mean it! I’m housesitting for my friend Andy, and agreed to show his place to a couple potential tenants, Kristen and Jeff. They were really nice, and noticed my Greenling box in the kitchen—turned out Jeff works for Greenling, and we launched into a conversation about persimmons. A couple days later, I got this email:
Thanks for taking the time to show Kristen and I Andy’s home the other day! We really appreciate it and are excited about living there!
Since you are such an awesome Greenling customer I wanted to pass along a coupon for you to use as well. The next time you check out use this coupon and you will get 25% off of your next order from us :)
Hope those persimmons were awesome!
Jeff Waltrip, Smoothie Operator
How cool is that? He got my email address from Andy so he could send me a coupon—and it was a killer email, at that. Smoothie Operator for the win!
What’s the last support experience that rocked your world?
We’re looking for another support team member! Specifically, we’re seeking a native English speaker in the GMT zone or thereabouts, so our poor Jim doesn’t have to work alone in the UK while the rest of us are snoring soundly!
You’ll be responsible for providing tremendous customer service via email for Basecamp, Basecamp Classic, Highrise, Backpack, and Campfire. You’ll also help us answer questions via Twitter, create and edit help documentation, and maybe run some online classes.
You’ll be expected to answer about 75 emails per day once you’re fully up to speed (2-3 months or thereabouts). This is a significant volume, so be sure that you’re ready and able to deal with that kind of daily load – you’ll get all the love and help you need along the way!
We’re looking for some great writers who love helping our customers, so you should enjoy making complicated situations simple and painless and have a passion for our products.
If you want to join me, Ann, Chase, Jim, Joan, Kristin, Merissa, and Michael in making our customers happy, please apply!
How to apply
Please submit a cover letter explaining:
- Why you want to work in customer support.
- Why you want to work at 37signals and not somewhere else.
- A description of a great customer service/support experience you had recently, and what made it great.
Also, pick three of the questions from customers below and answer them like you would if you worked here:
- Does the new Basecamp offer time tracking?
- Is the new Basecamp offered in any other language besides English?
- I’m interested in your products, but not sure which one is right for me. What’s the difference between Highrise and Basecamp?
- I’ve been a Basecamp Classic user for years and see you have a new version. What’s the difference between the versions, and why should I switch?
- Is there a reporting function in the new Basecamp?
We offer heaps of lovely benefits, plus a progressive work environment. Starting salary is $45k USD, depending on experience.
Email everything to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include “Customer Support” in the subject line. If you’re attaching a resume, please send it as a PDF. Note: We look favorably on people who get creative with their applications.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Officially, 37signals customer support is only available during standard U.S. business hours — 8 a.m.-5 p.m. CST (14:00-23:00 GMT). In reality, we’re usually open a little longer than that, because some of us are morning people (Merissa!) and some of us are night owls (Joan!). We’ll sometimes pop in on weekends too, especially when it’s busy. Still, that only amounts to about 60 hours of availability in a 168-hour week.
That’s been a bummer for folks in other parts of the world — nearly a fifth of our customers are in Europe, and at least 5 percent work from Asia and Australia. While it’s often easy to get back to our American customers in less than an hour, Europeans could be waiting more than six hours for a response, and our friends down under could wait a whole business day. When you’re unable to log in to your account, or somebody removed your admin permissions, or you can’t find that file you know you uploaded yesterday, well … that sucks!
It sucked even worse after we launched the new Basecamp and suddenly had hundreds more cases per day with the same tiny team of seven. Cases were piling up to 400, 500, 600 deep. It got so bad that a few times, we straight-up shut down intake, just so we could catch a breath. Not cool.
In June, it was taking us about 110 minutes to reply to emails during business hours, 279 minutes on average overall. Only 41% of customers were getting a reply within an hour when we were on the clock, and a dismal 29% received a response within an hour overall.
We had already decided to bring on some folks across the pond to better serve our customers in different time zones. We added the lovely and talented Monika (Netherlands) and Jim (UK) to the team (more on them soon!), and I’ve been working from Europe this summer as well — so lately, our day has been starting around 3 a.m. CST.
We’ve been experimenting with later shifts, too — Kristin, Ann, and Joan have been taking turns coming in around 11 a.m.-noon and leaving around 8-9 p.m. CST.
What this means is that, at least during the Monday-Friday workweek, we’ve gone from 8-12 hours of availability to about 18. So far, that’s making a world of difference.
Yesterday at 11 a.m., for example, the median time to a first reply during business hours was 24 minutes and 73% of cases were being answered within an hour. (You can always see how quickly we’re getting to things on our “Happiness Report” page.)
In the three and a half weeks before we started European hours and late shifts, our median weekday response time was six hours. Since we spread the hours out (in addition to some awesome deploys and feature improvements, too!), median weekday response time has fallen dramatically, to around 55 minutes. We’ve been reaching “Inbox Zero” at the end of the day — something that hasn’t really happened since we launched Basecamp on March 6. No more 100+ case backlogs to work through and prioritize first thing in the morning, because we’re constantly working through the queue.
Is this perfect? Heck no. We know that commerce is 24-7, and 55 minutes can feel like an eternity when stuff isn’t working. We know people rely on our apps to do their jobs, and when something goes wrong, it can create big problems. We take that super-seriously. We’d like to move toward around-the-clock support, where everyone is getting a reply within an hour. Ideally, no one would wait more than a few minutes to hear back from us.
That’s the direction we’re heading in — this is just a step toward it. But it’s been a major step, and we’ll all breathing a little easier and sleeping a little more soundly!
Thanks to Noah for his help with the numbers here.
One of the super-cool benefits of working at 37signals is a membership in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). We get fresh fruits and veggies at the farmer’s market or delivered to our doors, which encourages us and our families to cook and eat healthier — and the brain food helps us stay at the top of our mental game too!
It also feels great to support local farmers. We’re spread out all over the place, so the contents of our CSA boxes reflect what’s local and in season where we live.
Clockwise from top left: A recent delivery from Greenling in Austin, Texas; Javan’s Romanesco broccoli from Sunseed Farm in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Eron’s winter veggies from Coon Rock Farm in Hillsborough, North Carolina; and Ann’s fan dance with lettuce from Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks in Chicago.
My favorite part of belonging to a CSA is the surprise that comes with opening a new box and seeing what’s new — it’s turned me into a more adventurous cook.
A few of my CSA-based creations: grapefruit-avocado salad, sesame broccoli with peanut sauce, Swiss chard frittata and an avocado-orange smoothie.
Soup is perfect for using up a bunch of perishables all at once!
Shaun’s vegetarian chili, and Will’s wife’s veggie-and-ham soup
Kristin made a pie with apples from her CSA last fall, and I made a sweet potato meringue pie with mine.
Hey, it doesn’t have to be 100% healthy all the time, right?
Michael, 37signals’ resident foodie and showoff, whips up amazing creations with his CSA goodies from Irv & Shelly — I’m considering moving to Chicago so he’ll feed me more often.
Michael’s masterpieces, clockwise from top left: red quinoa with roasted cauliflower, dried cranberries, and toasted pine nuts; spinach tomato scramble with Sunday bacon; parsnip and potato latkes; mushroom ginger soup with hato mugi; squash and chickpea Moroccan stew with hand-rolled couscous; and poached eggs with sautéed spinach, toasted pecans, and parmesan.
If you’re interested in CSAs in your area, check out localharvest.org. Bon appetit!