Wade Foster is CEO of Zapier, the integration service that allows you to connect many web-based products and services easily.
At Zapier everyone does support as part of support driven development. As the CEO, I still spend at least 10% of my time each week doing support.
We have two dedicated customer support agents who work our email inbox on a daily basis. We also have one engineer rotate through a support on-call each week. The rest of the team (non-engineers, non-support members) spend a half-day on support each week. Here’s a great post we wrote about why.
From doing support, we’ve learned how users use the product and where they have issues. Zapier is such a big and long-tail product it’s hard to get a grasp on what users are doing and where they are struggling. Support is one of the ways the whole team learns.
It also keeps everyone focused on our users and on the same page. Since everyone does support, our support agents feel empowered and not burned out from bearing the support load. And our engineers have great insight into the problems that exist in the product.
One of our favorite things is when get a feature request for a new trigger/action/service on Zapier and we build it for the customer ASAP, which this type of connection allows. For instance, here's a place where we had an integration out in less than a day for the customer.
All Hands Grows With You
At SurveyGizmo, we’ve tried to implement “all hands on deck” a few times in recent years as we’ve grown bigger (60+ people). Christian Vanek, our CEO, frequently picks up support calls and it is always fun when customers have no idea they are talking to the CEO.
We are getting ready to implement “all hands on deck” again in order to get our customers help faster, reduce the wait time for support calls, and reinforce a “customer first” mentality throughout the whole company. We are currently offering remedial training for those in non-customer-facing roles who are a bit hesitant to jump on the phone. We really just believe it's the right thing to do and would love to get to where Freshbooks is (1.4 rings is super impressive!).
I'm now part of HelpGizmo, a two-person internal startup at the office that produces knowledge base software. It’s just me and a developer, so we wear all the hats. Our firstname.lastname@example.org email is going to the entire school (old school support!).
p.s image above from SurveyGizmo blog.