We’re seven members strong now and we’re able to add a lot of things our customers have been seeking. The bigger team also lets each of us work on support projects other than answering emails lightning fast. Since our sysops, developers and designers have been rightly bragging about the great things they’re doing, I thought I’d take the opportunity to tell you about what our amazing team has been doing to improve customer happiness.

Basecamp 101
The mere whisper of the word ‘webinar’ used to make my blood run cold. The library and academic worlds (my old stomping grounds) are lousy with them. I found them to be time sinks where people who didn’t have a full grasp of a topic held their attendees virtually hostage as we endured technical difficulties and dry Powerpoint presentations. My bias came with me when I got to 37signals, so I was surprised to see the number of customers who really wanted a webinar.

After a bit of research in the Fall, Merissa and Chase started a “Basecamp 101” online class that now runs almost every week. I have to say, it’s really terrific. If other webinars had butts, Chase and Merissa’s would be kicking them. Their class is fun and it gives space for potential customers to ask questions of Merissa, Chase and Michael at the end.

It’s exciting tell our customers that we can offer them a demonstration of setting up a project before they even sign up for Basecamp. If you want to check it out sometime, the next one is always listed on our Help page.

Help Videos
There’s plenty of research demonstrating different learning styles, and the support team can definitely attest to the fact that not everyone learns best by reading help documentation. We have some pretty great help pages, but sometimes words and screenshots can’t do justice to some of the features and functions of Basecamp or Highrise. Chase made it his mission to create some really great screencasts for many of our frequently asked questions. You can see the ones he’s created for Basecamp and Highrise. They’ve been a great asset for the support team and have helped our customers in a big way.

Live Chat
Through the Summer and Fall of 2011, we ran live help chat (thanks to our pals at Olark) on highrisehq.com to assist potential customers who had a few questions before signing up for a plan. The whole support team spent a few hours on live chat each day and we noticed that a lot of current customers were using the service to get help. We decided to give it a shot in Basecamp accounts as a premium support feature. If you’re an admin on a Max Basecamp plan or any Suite, you’ll see this friendly little box at the bottom of your Basecamp dashboard:

Of course, we did endure some “Who the heck is this?”s and “Are you a robot?”s the first few weeks, but we’re almost two months into offering the feature and it’s been a great experience. The team can answer questions faster and it’s a true pleasure to interact with our customers in a new way.

Faster Common Requests
Resident support whiz kid Ann is not just great at helping us answer support questions, she’s also quite handy with the console as well. Every day we see some common requests that involve some On Call programmer work and Ann’s been taking on a lot of the common tasks that we used to send to the programming team, including things like:

  • Un-sticking Highrise exports/imports
  • Finding out who deleted/moved something or changed permissions in an app (known in the support team as an “Ooooh, girl, who…” question )
  • Creating file archives

It’s been a huge load off our On Call team and it helps us take care of our customers much faster than they expect.

These are all things we’ve been able to add to support in the past five months, and Basecamp Next isn’t even out yet. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see what the rest of 2012 holds.