There’s not much worse than needing help with a product only to be told to wait around until someone can get back to you. That’s why our support team strives to reply as fast as we can when you need that help. We track our average response times each day and work to get them as low as possible.
Today, our average time to first response is 2 minutes. On top of that, 99% of email to our support team are answered within an hour. We’re working on presupport but that might take some time to get right.
So what’s the secret? Like with most things, it’s a combination of things that we do to get that response time as fast as possible.

Make sure you have the right size team.

Jason talks about hiring when it hurts. If your support team is continually behind on answering cases, it’s a world of pain for your customers.
During the New Basecamp launch, people sent in hundreds and hundreds of emails with questions. There were times that we’d still have 400 emails waiting for answers at the end of the day. It hurt us, it hurt our customers, and it simply was not sustainable.
Adding more people to the support team cut that time down. It even gave us a little more breathing room. If someone isn’t at work that day, we’re still okay. We’re at ten people now on the support team, which is the sweet spot for our volume of emails.

Try whole company support.

If you’re a small company watching your payroll, hiring on a new support person can be tough. Instead, have people already on the team do a stint answering support emails. Having a designer or programmer spend some time working with customers helps you get those faster replies. It also lets the rest of the team interact with customers firsthand. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Use time zones to your advantage.

Our support team stretches from Berlin to Portland. We’ve got people working on cases in the bulk of our customer’s time zones. That means a Basecamp customer in London gets an answer right away rather than waiting for us to wake up here in Chicago. And by using time zones, we each work typical 9am–6pm hours instead of crazy overnight or weekend shifts.
Back to the New Basecamp launch, Kristin switched over to what we called a swing shift. She’d work 12–8pm to help us be ready for the next day. Staying later in the day made all the difference. It allowed us to reply to customers faster since we didn’t play catch up every morning.
Eventually, she moved to Portland and now stops answering emails at 6pm. All thanks to the power of time zones.

Bottom line – customers don’t like to wait.

I’ve needed help with products before only to find out it’s a 24 hour wait until I would get a reply. That’s insane!
Our customers use our apps to run their businesses. When they’re waiting around, it’s costing them time and money. I’m betting your customers are the same way.
Aim for those fast response times. Your customers will love you for it.