Sunday, August 21, 2016

A plague o' both your houses

Often quoted as "A pox on both your houses." This is a famous quote from Romeo and Juliet. As Mercutio dies, he utters this phrase three times, cursing the families whose rivalry led to his death. We’ve all had nightmare customer service experiences. Some experiences so vile, so painful, that we might find ourselves secretly cursing the person on the other end of (the phone, the email, the “your call is important to us” phone robot). This probably brings back vivid memories of wishing you could transport yourself (like on StarTrek) to the call center.  “Energize, Scotty! I’ve got a customer service miscreant that needs to meet my phaser...”

And then, every once in a great while, the opposite happens. 

A customer service experience so good, so amazing, so flawless - that it stops you in your tracks. Customer service so impressive, that is makes you feel like you are watching Triple Crown winner Secretariat taking the Belmont Stakes in what remains a record time, leaving the field far behind him (I was there in 1973 screaming “That’s impossible!”)

We use Highrise and Basecamp in all of our companies. The FAQs on their respective websites are good, and their “self-service” customer service is strong. But I had a specific question about how a certain feature worked in Basecamp. I was about to make a significant change in how we do things in our back office. If I got it wrong, disaster could ensue. So, even though the FAQs were clear, I needed some hand-holding. I needed to make sure. So I sent off my email to Support. On a weekend. I’m hoped to hear back sometime next week.

Ah, no.

Minutes later, “James” from Basecamp is in my inbox. No robot, no auto responder. James (turns out he was in Berlin) is answering my question, with such detail and care that it felt like he was talking to me, standing behind me, with his hand on my shoulder. Words matter, but I “felt” James in the room with me.

There was a flurry of emails back and forth, with me now having a virtual conversation with my new BFF James from Berlin. And then with all of my questions answered I sent this email to James (and to the entire support team) at Basecamp:

Just so you know, the level of customer service from Basecamp may indeed be the best - as in - THE BEST I have ever experienced. I am not trying to be overly dramatic here.  It is so good, so fast, so efficient that it makes me pause and wonder how does one duplicate this level of professionalism in my own company. How do you TEACH this? How do you hire for this? We use Highrise and Basecamp to run all of our companies (plus a handful of other SaaS tools). But the technology is only a small part of the process, yes?  I feel that your level of customer service is the gold standard of using technology plus talent via remote work. How can we learn and teach the ways of Basecamp?


What happened next pushed me over the edge. James then responded with the most eloquent, detailed, helpful, caring email I have received in years. I cannot cut/paste it here without permission. Suffice it to say that James was talking to me like he was my best friend - partner - investor - cheerleader. One human (not a single robot involved) talking to another human. And, he needs my mailing address to send me some “goodies”. I love goodies! Goodies are my favorite thing!

The book REWORK arrives. I have now read it twice, and before this weekend is over, I’ll probably have read it three times. It has been 8 days since my email exchange with James. And I am still stunned.

How can I repay James?

Maybe I can give every member of the a FREE copy of REWORK, on me. Maybe I can give every member a free trial of BASECAMP and HIGHRISE. And if they love it (what’s not to love) I’ll pay for their first month AFTER their 30 day free trial.

Maybe I can do all of the above?

If James can do customer service like Secretariat, then so can I - so can we! If James can love his customers to this degree, so can we! So it shall be written - so it shall be done!

Starting in September, all new members will receive a FREE copy of REWORK, and 30 days of both BASECAMP and HIGHRISE. We shall care about our clients and our customers and our vendors and our sponsors - and ALL MEMBERS of our community, with the same passion as James.

There you go, James. I just returned your serve. “Goodies” back at ya!

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