Interview with Janice Burch, Customer Support at Basecamp
Before there was Slack, Asana and Trello - there was Basecamp. The project management rockstar that pioneered the way both remote and in-house teams communicate, streamline and manage projects. As far as we see it, just the name “Basecamp” alone deserves a standing ovation.
What’s most exciting about the Basecamp crew is not what they’ve done, but what they continue to do. Committed to evolving the way we work, they continue to pioneer new ways of communicating, each time making project management clearer, and the work itself that much better.
Customer Support superstar, Janice Burch, gave us an inside peek on how Basecamp keeps their eyes on what’s next in project communication, how they tackle their toughest daily challenges and why their company culture is obsessed with producing quality content that revolutionizes the way we think about work.
Tell us a little bit about your biggest challenges throughout the workday and how CloudApp helps you work around those?
In support it’s about communicating in a way that’s not only timely, but clear and helpful. Since we also happen to work on a fully remote team, that communication is a two-front challenge.
Our current methods of communicating work really well for us. We use Basecamp to coordinate work as a team and Help Scout for email conversations with our customers. CloudApp has helped increase the efficacy of those messages to our customers and each other.
I’m sure this is true for everyone, we learn new information all the time and then share those lessons, so we’re always either a student or teacher. When there’s a process with multiple steps involved or concepts that are new to the other party, it’s usually better understood and less intimidating when they’re illustrated with a video or GIF. CloudApp allows us to add those elements to what we share in a really fuss-free way. It makes introducing new information an easy process for everyone involved.
How much of your work is focused on user experience and content?
User experience is the main focus of our work and and the basis of our decision-making as a team. The changes we make are with the intention of making a legitimate improvement in the experience of people who use Basecamp. We put a lot of thought into how an update would make managing a project easier or make customers better at running their business. We stay away from “just because” changes that don’t truly benefit a user’s productivity or experience.
Quality content is also an important part of our work and we take a similar approach. Sharing what we know and better ways to work is a part of our company culture that’s kind of trickled down from our leadership, Jason and David. They’re vocal about encouraging people to reconsider how they work and what constitutes good work. That’s the kind of content you’ll see on Basecamp’s Signal v. Noise blog and hear in the new Rework podcast.
What does the future of product look like?
There’s so much to consider in that prediction like changes in cultural norms, economy, inclusivity, how those products are marketed. I don’t know how all of those and other aspects will evolve individually and come together as the future of product. Our products are usually a reflection of what we value as a society. I guess we’ll see!
What are the workflows at Basecamp where you see teams using CloudApp?
The company is run in Basecamp so there’s a constant exchange of information internally. That’s information colleagues will refer to later. Internally, we use CloudApp to enhance the usefulness and clarity of what we share.
One specific example is training new team members. If a teammate asked a question that required a detailed explanation, previously we’d send notes that were either oversimplified or overwhelming. There was usually a lot of back and forth to clarify either way. So to address that we said okay we’ll just jump on a call. That made it easier to clear up confusion but that impromptu call was a bit disruptive to focus. Both of those approaches didn’t feel quite right in terms of their effectiveness. Now, we can explain something in great detail by complementing our notes with short videos and that’s a lot easier to digest. It’s also great that those videos, which include specific example cases in action, can be rewatched later. That’s invaluable in training when you’re absorbing so much information at once.
How much time would you say that CloudApp saves you overall - pre CloudApp vs. now?
We’re not big on tracking time for tasks but it definitely saves a lot of time. I’m guessing hours as a team. I’d say it goes beyond that though, the great thing about CloudApp is that it helps push us that much closer to what we value as a team: simplicity, clarity, and empowering each other by sharing our knowledge.
The same is true for customers, I know they appreciate receiving a personalized video so quickly, but I think they’re really delighted by the other things it saves them like frustration and misunderstanding.
Links to a favorite project you’ve worked on that most people may not know about?
I decided to create a project after I applied to join the support team at Basecamp. Throughout the interview process, as I interacted with more people here, I felt good about the team. I was confident this was a place where I could do good work with people who had that same intention. The writing project gave more insight into my approach to support but I wasn’t sure if everyone could get a sense of who I was and why I felt I was a good fit for the team. I figured a video would be a good way to explain that— sound familiar?