Freshbooks, Getting Customer Service Right

FreshbookFirst off, this isn’t meant as a review of Freshbooks. Suffice to say, I’ve tested many of the online services for billing and time tracking; Freshbooks provides me the best solution for my needs. Often though i’ts the intangibles that allow a business to rise above the rest. For Freshbooks, their customer service certainly is the case.

Some time during this past fall my Paypal credit card number changed, probably due to losing it, I’m not exactly sure of the circumstances. Subsequently, many of the services that I use for business, (hosting, domain registration, etc) were effected. In the case of Freshbooks, I was in an arrangement where I was sub contracting with an individual, getting paid flat rates for the work I was doing, so I didn’t have an immediate need to update the account, unlike say, hosting. Plus, I tend to be lazy and procrastinate, so it was easy for me to put it off. Each month, I’d get an email saying that the card had been declined, and I’d say to myself, “I really need to update that,” and then forget to, blow off logging in and updating.

I ended the previous arrangement earlier this month, around the time I got another one of the reminder emails. They really are reminders, not nagging or harsh in the least. I went to log in, and was redirected to a page where I could change/update the contact info, as well the CC#. However, I didn’t know exactly how much I owed, and since I’m trying to stick to a budget for my web development endeavors, I wanted to know exactly what I owed and plan accordingly—pay it all off or make a couple installment payments. Never did I entertain the idea of just starting a new account or moving.

First thing the next morning (I sent the email to support around 9pm EST, which they are on also) I received an email from Laleh informing me that she had removed the suspended status from my account, rolled me back to their free account in which I could upgrade to a paid plan, and deleted my client list. Mind you, clients and projects are never really deleted, rather it’s like a super-archived status. At any time, you can undelete the client/project, and all of the information remains intact.

They could have easily charged me for the months since the last payment or some portion there of, after all, they were storing my data and settings. I was fully prepared to pay for this, as my time is valuable, and re-entering client information and setting up the payment gateway again would take a fair amount of time. Needless to say, I am extremely pleased with the outcome, and an even bigger fan of Freshbooks.

Ironically, Sunir, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at Barcamp Orlando (which Freshbooks was a sponsor of, yet another reason to be a fan) posted an article on their blog today about the difficulty of Saas.

SaaS is not just a new distribution method for software with a lovely revenue stream. It’s a new social contract with the customer that we all have to live up to, whether we’re companies big or small.

Freshbooks more than lived up to their contract, and continue to set the bar for how companies do business on the web.