How We Work — Tracking the Bugs

An inside look at how we handle bug tracking with Basecamp 3.

Ksenija had a great question from my last “How We Work” post.

One thing that interests me the most is do you have some kind of automatic integration between Help Scout and Basecamp or do you manually write important things in BC?

Why I’m interested in that is because I would like to know how do you associate BC to-do for engineer (if engineer support is needed and if you resolve support issues over to-dos) with concrete customer issue in Help Scout!

With our setup, we don’t have any automatic integrations between Help Scout (the customer support app we use) and Basecamp. Through a few nifty Zapier integrations, you could absolutely set something up like that. But we’ve chosen to keep things a bit more simple for us.

Here’s how we handle interactions between our support team and programmers when it comes to bugs.

Isolated Bugs

Most of the situations we see on a daily basis are one-off problems. Maybe a Doc is acting weird because of some HTML that was pasted into it. Or a file isn’t downloading because something went wrong with uploading it.

For these customer emails, we assign it to an “on call” folder in Help Scout itself. We’ll also leave a note with any info that might be helpful for our support programmers working. From there, they’ll take a look, fix up whatever the problem was, and assign it back. That’s when we let the customer know it’s fixed up.

Bigger Bugs

Sometimes we’ll find bugs and issues that are out-of-scope for the on-call developer team. Those are usually something that’s affecting all of our customers rather than just an isolated person. When that happens, it’s added as a to-do inside Basecamp.

We have a project called “BC3: Bugs” to keep track of them. That project only has one tool enabled — the To-dos list.

The first stop for every new bug is the “Awaiting Triage” list. This allows us to have an easy place to quickly add in new bugs as to-dos.

The to-do name is kept short for easy reference. The notes field contains any details, screenshots, links back to a Help Scout case, or anything else that might be helpful.

From the “Awaiting Triage” list, the bug is then either assigned out or taken by someone that sees one they want to fix. Here’s a full thread where the bug was added as a to-do, discussed, and then fixed.

From the support side, I was notified throughout the process and could keep our customer in the loop. Once Scott fixed things up, he checked off the to-do as complete. Then I emailed the customer with the good news.

It’s in Basecamp!

Keeping it in Basecamp this way means everything is in one place. I don’t have to add a bug to some other app and then link it back to Basecamp. Our programmers and designers only have one place to check for new bugs. Everything’s kept right there in Basecamp for everyone to see.

If you found this article helpful, click that 💙 button below. Thanks!

Finding it tough to keep your support team (or any other team) on the same page? Give Basecamp 3 a shot. It’s a free 30-day trial. Teams simply run better on Basecamp.

How We Work — The Support Team

Meet our customer support team!

An inside look at how our support team uses Basecamp 3.

The Basecamp support team is a fully remote team that spans seven time zones and helps our customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s tough to get everyone on a team on the same page. It can be even harder to keep them there.

That’s why our team uses Basecamp 3 to stay organized. The tools inside our team space ensures that everyone has answers to questions like “Who’s taking care of Twitter replies right now?”, “What are the common cases we’ve seen this week?” or “Where’s the outline for our online classes?”

We’ve talked before about how we use Basecamp 3 to organize our meetups and run our podcast. This time, let’s dive into how our customer support team works.

Let’s all chat.

With our team entirely remote, it helps to have a place to chat in real time. A virtual water-cooler if you will. Enter Campfire.

Campfire gives us a place to talk instantly about anything that we need to. It’s where we go to ask others about a particularly interesting customer email. Or share the latest Taylor Swift music video. We’ve even had some fun GIF battles there. As shifts come online and then leave at the end of the day, you’ll also see lots of hello’s and goodbye’s said. It’s a powerful tool for making sure that your team feels connected, even if they are on the other side of the planet.

Chatting around the Campfire.

Default away from the never-ending conveyor belt.

While Campfire is great for those real time chats, it’s not designed to be an all-day meeting. For updates and other messages that the entire team need to see, we use the Message Board. We also use it for conversations that need some time to happen, like this one.

Much easier than a messy email thread or losing it in a chat.

Instead of that message being lost in the never-ending conveyor belt of a chat, it’s right there on the Message Board. The conversation happens through comments with plenty of time for each person to think about their answer.

Create space with the Schedule.

For any events related to the team, those go on our Schedule. It can be things like customer trainings or calls, our regular 1:1s, and times that we’ll be out for vacations or other days off.

We also schedule in time to work on side projects or anything else that takes us out of our email queue. By putting it on the Schedule, we create space for each of us. Without that space, your team will end up as queue monkeys trying to get through just one more email.

Create space with a schedule.

One less status meeting to attend.

Status meetings are the worst. Thankfully we don’t have them with our team because of check-ins.

With the Automatic Check-in tool, we ask everyone on the team a few things on a regular schedule. The check-in allows us to talk about questions like “What was a common issue that you saw this week?” without needing to hold a weekly team meeting.

Checking in each week.

All of your resources in one place.

Our Docs and Files tool sees a lot of use. It’s our go-to place for our files, the online class resources, our customer ideas, and anything else our team might need. Everything’s organized by topics using the folder option. And a few of those folders even have Readme docs in it to give a person the gist of what that folder is for.

Files and docs all in one place.

One of my favorite folders in here is the Happy File, an idea we stole from the team over at Automattic. It’s a place to share the love that customers have for Basecamp — the team and the product. Here’s Jeremey Duvall on how it works:

Every Happiness Engineer is encouraged to create a happy file just for them. In that file, they keep amazing [customer] interactions… When they feel down during the day, looking through the file is a quick way to pick themselves back up.

Instead of it being an individual file, we’re trying it out as a team file. Whenever someone has something to share, they start a new doc and put the comment, email, Tweet, or whatever it is there.

#support #awesome

It’s in Basecamp.

Remember those questions where we started? It’s a simple answer now — it’s in Basecamp! One place to check who’s handling Twitter replies, what common cases we’ve seen this week, and where that class outline is. It’s our central source of truth for everyone on the team.

If you have any questions about how our team works or want more details on anything above, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer!

If you found this article helpful, click that 💙 button below. Thanks!

Finding it tough to keep your support team (or any other team) on the same page? Give Basecamp 3 a shot. It’s a free 30-day trial. Teams simply run better on Basecamp.