Above and beyond
Basecamp, if you aren’t familiar, is a 17 year old cloud collaboration tool created to promote efficient team management and project management. Their current customer base of over 2,000,000 can be equally attributed to their effectiveness and customer care, which is made obvious by the customer-focused mantra, appropriately emblazoned on their site. Titled “Giving a Damn”, the customer mission statement starts with, “Treating people right is fundamental to how we do business.”
Parallel to that intonation is the ease of access to both co-founders Jason Fried’s and David Heinemeier Hansson’s, with the inclusion of their personal Twitter pages, both of which are active in responding to customers.
Net pay of customer refunds
As a further testament to their customers, Jason Fried’s has released a recent statement, “If a customer is unhappy with Basecamp to the point where they request a refund, it should be my penalty. We didn’t make them happy, and, as co-founder and CEO, ultimately that’s my responsibility. So it should be on me.”
Fried is not sure how the plan will be implemented yet, but is considering a quarterly tally and subtraction from his pay, or an end-of-the-year total that will reduce end-of-year dividends. He’s also not certain if this incentive will go past the one year promise, into 2018.
Risk is sometimes necessary
Although Fried is risking a lot of money, the customer loyalty and trust he will garner from his commitment outweigh any realistic financial loss and is a good lesson for other businesses looking to increase customer satisfaction: some risk is necessary. There won’t be an influx of customer’s asking for refunds to cheat the system, or a huge loss in money. But a group of customers that realize Basecamp’s voluntary obligation to their customers, and are therefore more willing to stay committed and resolve any issues before asking for a refund and cancellation in service.
A recent survey of 10,000 Basecamp’s customers showed 89% of respondents who reported having a better handle on their business because of the service. With satisfaction rates like that, and a customer oriented CEO like Jason Fried, I can’t imagine too many consumers will want a refund anyway. But those that do should find solace in knowing the CEO is somehow affected.