It’s an exciting time of reimagining and expansion for our friends at Think Vitamin. Beginning this November, the company will be rebranded as Treehouse. One thing that won’t change is the mission of Think Vitamin, which is to provide an online learning center where web professionals can develop and grow their skills, connect with each other and keep up-to-date on the hottest web topics.

In 2007, Think Vitamin won a SXSW award for “Best Educational Research.” The company continues to offer innovative learning solutions for web professionals, and as part of the Treehouse expansion it plans to broaden its programming to meet the needs of web professionals at an individual level through custom trainings. However, Treehouse will still provide its signature video service learning that helps people become web designers and web developers, and helps existing web professionals keep their skills honed. Just last week Treehouse announced their funding, which, Ryan Carson (founder) says will be used to "take the product to the next level". Huge congrats to the team! We have no doubt big things are coming.

Treehouse’s Alan Johnson took time out from this busy transition season to answer a few of our questions about how his company uses Help Scout.


What do you use Help Scout for?

We primarily use Help Scout to answer customer email inquiries. From time to time I also send emails out through Help Scout because it gives me a bit easier history to track and share.

Why Help Scout?

I tried Help Scout for a couple of weeks and really loved the fact that it's all about email. We wanted a service that focused on that feeling you get when someone takes the time to personally email you back. We feel like a lot of the tools out there give people a feeling that a computer or company is responding, not a real person.

We always want to solve the problem that someone has when they email us, but we also want to work on building a stronger connection between us and the person sending the email. We want them to come out thinking that Carsonified is a pretty amazing company because it's made up of real people like Alan, Ryan, or whoever it was that responded to the person's inquiry.

How has it changed the way you do business?

Overall, I think it's made us more efficient in responding to emails, and it has helped us make sure that the correct person is assigned an email and can respond to it as quickly as possible.

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What would you like to see in Help Scout moving forward that would make your life easier?

I would love to see a ton more stats, like our average time to close an inquiry and how many inquiries we're doing each day. Those stats may seem fairly unimportant if you're answering emails as quickly as possible, but it's hard to know what's going on without some solid measurement. I would also love to see the ability to change the "To" address for an email - we get contacted personally a lot of the time and forward those emails into Help Scout, but we can't respond to the forwarded emails. For that matter, better support for Forwarded emails would be pretty great, too. I would also love to be able to link Help Scout to our web application so that we can see data from our application in Help Scout. At present we use some browser hacks to link to user profiles, but a more officially supported method would be super appreciated.


What’s your favorite feature in Help Scout that you use the most?

My favorite thing about Help Scout is just being able to hop in and work through customer emails. There's nothing more important to us than just being able to communicate easily with our customers.

Do you have a favorite customer story? One where someone on your team went over and above to deliver outstanding service?

I don't really have an outstanding story. We really try to make things like giving customers free service when something rough has happened and going out of our way to make sure we're answering emails quickly (it's not unusual to see people on our team respond in the middle of the night or on the weekends) a part of who we are, but at this point I don't know that we've really done too many amazing feats of customer service. I guess you could say that we try really hard to do an outstanding job at the basics, and then wow our customers with our product.

Now, though, you've got me thinking I need to send someone a random cake or something.

What’s the best bit of advice you can give on delivering outstanding customer service?

When I've received customer service, especially over email, nothing has impressed me more than a speedy response. I remember contacting Automattic (the folks behind WordPress) one time and getting a response back from them in around a minute or so. I replied with some more details and they responded and closed things out in another minute or two. I was absolutely blown away, and raved about them to my friends, family, and anyone else who would listen for weeks. Since then that's been the kind of support level that I've wanted to give to people.

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