Dec 11: FastMail Support

Company

This blog post is part of the FastMail 2014 Advent Calendar.

The previous post on 10th December was the second security post, on availability. The following post on 12th December is about our multi-master database replication.

Technical level: low

Support system

FastMail has a comprehensive support system. We have a well written, and well maintained online help system, where you can read in detail about every aspect of the service. This is complemented by our blog(which is likely where you are reading this) which you can subscribe to, where you can read about what we are working on, or where the service is generally heading including any recent changes.

To see the live running status of various FastMail services, you can see our own status page. That page also gives you an idea about how the service has been operating in the past week. If you would like to see an uptime report of FastMail from an independent third-party, there's always the status report from Pingdom.

But in spite of all that, sometimes you will need to get in touch with a human being who knows the service really well. In that case, you can get in touch with a member of our friendly support team using our ticket system.

Support team and support process

Back in early 2000-ish, I realized IMAP as The True Path while the mainstream practice was POPanism, and searched hard and wide for a good provider. I found FastMail to be the best IMAP provider on the planet, and signed up for an account. And I would say the same thing today as well - as far as the 'best IMAP provider' bit goes. As for 'The True Path', I am a born-again IMAPian, and would say JMAP fits the bill these days as we are transitioning from the Destkopian age to the AndroiPhonean age. Our new apps for iPhone and Android use JMAP to do their work, and you can see how well they work, especially on high-latency connections.

But I digress.

So, these were early days, and soon FastMail advertised a tech-support position. I had done a side-project of developing a basic email client mainly to learn email protocols, so when the opportunity came along, I was very keen and I applied and soon landed the job.

I was joined by Vinodh and Yassar around 2008, and from then on, they have been handling front-line requests until recently.

Now a days, you will find a good chunk of your support ticket requests handled by our new recruit Afsal (and soon by Anto as well), especially during US day time.

New support tickets are handled by those techs in front-line support. Any issues escalated will usually be dealt by Yassar, and further escalations will be handled by myself. Yassar and I escalate issues to either an engineer on duty, or if we are sure the issue is related to somebody's area of expertise, directly to that developer or admin.

Future plans

We plan to provide 24 hour support coverage in the future, and we are working hard towards that. We will extend support coverage to the US day time first, after which we will start extending coverage to other timezones as well. Recruiting and training new people will take time, but we'll get there eventually.

Most frequently asked questions

As today's post is about support, I'll list here the most common questions that we see in support tickets, which you can get quick help for from our help documentation itself:

Remember; there is a wealth of information in our support system online, so thats a good first place to go to, to learn about FastMail. But our support team is always at hand, should you have questions!

See you again!

It is very satisfying to engage with our users, and help them make the most out of their FastMail accounts. Sometimes its a 75 year old grandma in the US who asks how best they can share their new recipes to a selected set of contacts(think address book groups), and sometimes its the uber-geek from across the globe who asks what scheme we use to hash our passwords(we use bcrypt)! Our customers are diverse, their questions intimidating interesting, and the experience satisfying!

FastMail has seen tremendous growth in the past few years, and we are working hard on scaling our support team to match. You should see the results of this work in the months to come.