All these companies are known for amazing customer support (apart from offering a great product/service). And all these companies have one thing in common - customer support is everyone's job. Engineers, developers, executive officers, founders - everyone works in customer support every now and then.
Basecamp (formerly known as "37 signals", a self-funded web-application company from Chicago, that builds one of the worlds most used project management apps) makes all their employees answer customer emails at least one day a month.
Zappos, one the States' leading online stores, sends every new employee to work in customer support for a month. Whatever the new position is - a coder, a designer or a senior executive - you're up for 4 weeks of answering support requests and talking to customers.
Freshbooks, an online accounting and billing app, follows a similar path and sets up every new hire for two months of customer support.
Stripe, the States' fastest growing online payment gateway for startups, has a two-weeks rotation, so everyone has a chance to work in the support team from time to time.
Even Amazon's CEO/Founder Jeff Bezos spends some time answering support emails every now and then. He even got his email address known out there in the public - "Jeff@amazon.com" - so anyone can drop him a message and expect an actual response. "Most people when looking at their customers, see revenues, metrics, transactions... We see customers as our guests at the party we're hosting" - he said.
Olark, a well-known live-chat software provider, makes its employees do a weekly 3-hour shift on customer support, helping the dedicated support team.
WuFoo, an online form builder and survey tool, also makes everyone answer support emails and utilizes an approach they call "support-driven development"
Jitbit (our company) is no different, by the way. We do have a dedicated support team, but everyone, including the developers, designers and the founders, help them on a daily basis.
Besides of being an incredibly efficient training tool, having everyone doing support from time to time is a great way to connect to your customers, remind yourself why you are here in the first place, meet the real people (not just the numbers and the metrics), feel their pain or be rewarded with their satisfaction, discover unusual ways they use your product (so you can shift the niche or pivot when needed), get non-tech people to know the product while tech-people get to face the billing issues etc. etc. etc. The benefits are literally endless.
It's really important though, that EVERYONE should be doing this. No excuses. Not even for the team-leads, founders, executives or owners. If it's good enough for Jess Bezos, its good enough for you
Alex has founded Jitbit in 2005 and is a software engineer passionate about customer support. He holds a degree in computer science and is a Microsoft Certified Solution Developer