Millions of Users, One Support Rep: The Story of Hubcap

James Francis | January 14, 2019

This is the story of Hubcap

As we prepare to launch Hubcap Beta after months of preparation, we thought we’d pause to reflect on how it all came to be.

The story behind Hubcap is not one that we could have predicted, nor one that was meticulously planned (or even really planned at all).

It’s instead the story of one fascinating internal discovery that completely altered the direction of our company.

Hubcap is our way of sharing that discovery with the world.

In the beginning, there was Screencastify

Five years ago, we built Screencastify — the #1 screen recorder for Google Chrome.

Back then, the screencasting market was ripe for disruption. Existing solutions were complex, bulky, and expensive. Really expensive.

The incumbents continuously added features to their products for years, ultimately making their offerings overly complicated. At the same time, they continuously raised prices under the dangerous assumption that more features equal more value.

In the end, the screencasting market was full of products that were of very little value to all but the most professional content creators.

We identified an opportunity to create something simpler and more affordable. And thus Screencastify was born.

0 to 10 million, real quick 🚀

Screencastify was designed to be:

  1. Extremely simple to install
  2. Even easier to get the hang of, regardless of whether you’d made screencasts before

As the first Chrome extension with this capability, Screencastify democratized screen recording. No longer did you need deep pockets and significant tech-savviness to do something as simple as create and share a screen video.

Screencastify Extension In Use
The Screencastify extension is the easiest way to create, edit and share screen videos.

It caught on. Real fast. People started using Screencastify to make videos in the classroom, at work, at home, and everywhere in between. The feedback we received was consistent - with Screencastify, all the barriers of creating a screencast had vanished.

It only took a few months before we saw a million weekly users in the Chrome Web Store. Then 2 million. Then 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

Last year, more than 24 million videos were created with Screencastify.

We’d be lying if we said we expected this amount of traction. It’s been an incredible experience to see our community grow to this scale, and display creativity in ways we could never have imagined. It’s been even more incredible to see the impact our product has had on the lives of so many.

Screencastify Extension Usage Chart
Videos Recorded with Screencastify (Millions)

Supporting Screencastify’s millions of users

From the beginning, we’ve made it a priority to provide timely, helpful support to our users - regardless of whether they use our free or paid version.

In the early days, this was easy to do. We’d receive a couple tickets a day and could devote a significant amount time to each one.

As we began to grow, however, we became concerned with our ability to provide the same level of support. Because the majority of our users are on our free version, we couldn’t necessarily afford to scale our support team (or even make one full time hire) as usage increased.

Then, something odd happened.

Our users had increased tenfold, but we only spent marginally more time on customer support every day.

Even with nearly 10 million weekly users, it still took only about 30% of one employee’s time to provide high quality customer support.

Before we go any further, let’s make something very clear - the simplicity and reliability of our product gets the majority of the credit for this. Screencastify just works in nearly every scenario.

That said, we still receive 100+ tickets per day. In most companies, at least 1 or 2 full time support reps would be required to handle that load.

So what’s the big secret? 🤫

What’s different in Screencastify’s case? How are we only able to spend a couple minutes on each ticket and still manage to send helpful, personalized responses?

You may be thinking that we optimized our internal processes to an extreme degree. And we did indeed implement things like:

  • A thorough knowledge base with step-by-step guides and videos
  • Dozens of troubleshooting articles addressing every common issue
  • Save replies and text snippets
  • A structured internal communication system to get quick answers from the right team members

However, none of this is revolutionary or even uncommon. While the above tactics helped, their impact is minimal compared to what’s really driving our efficiency:

We are not the reason our customer support process is so efficient. Our users are.

Our community is as diverse as it gets, spanning nearly every country in the world. Screencastify is used for more purposes than we could ever count.

But there’s one single thing our community has common. They all believe in the power of video communication, and use Screencastify to show their message instead of typing it.

As a result, most of the non billing or account-related tickets we get include a video that clearly demonstrates the user’s question or issue.

Customer Support Ticket
This is an example of a typical ticket we receive from a user - a short message along with a screencast.

These videos are tremendously valuable. It’s not always easy to describe a technical problem in writing. And people don’t always have the time or patience to document everything that’s happening before, during and after they experience an issue.

When we watch a user’s video, we can immediately determine what’s going on, respond with the solution, and close the ticket. It’s no accident that more than 90% of our tickets are solved on the first reply.

That got us thinking…

What if there were a way we could help other companies experience this same radical communication efficiency that we stumbled upon?

A powerful new idea

Four months ago, we put pen to paper and began working out the details about how something like this could come to life. In our minds, there were two requirements for this new product that we would not budge on:

  1. It had to let users create a screen video in just a couple clicks with no external software - requiring them to install any sort of extension or application was off the table. Ideally, users wouldn’t even have to leave the website they wanted to submit the video to.
  2. No technical expertise should be needed to install this functionality on a website or app. It had to be a “plugin” that could be up and running instantly.

While #2 wasn’t particularly difficult, #1 has never been done before. It hasn’t even been technically possible. That’s why every single screencasting solution out there (including Screencastify) requires some sort of installation. None of them can be totally handled within a browser.

But thanks to some recent advancements to popular browsers and the innate cleverness of our engineering team, we discovered a way to initiate and complete a screencast from within a browser tab. This was a huge breakthrough for us, and at that moment we knew there was no turning back.

Say hello to Hubcap 👋

Many late nights and about 5,000 cups of coffee later, we’re finally put the finishing touches on Hubcap Beta.

Hubcap is the first (and only) embeddable screen recorder that requires no external software.

With Hubcap, you can add a recorder to your site by copy and pasting just a few lines of code --- instantly giving your visitors a way of communicating with you through a video.

When someone records a video on your site, they can quickly submit it to you (along with their contact info and a message) without ever leaving your site, so you can watch it immediately.

Hubcap Mockup
Hubcap’s record button can be embedded onto any website by pasting a few lines of code.

To say we have high hopes for Hubcap would be an understatement. In our view, Hubcap has the potential to transform video communication forever.

Until now, video creation has really only been feasible for content creators. Sure, it’s not too difficult to create a screencast, but you still need to research and select your software, install it, and learn how to use it. Screencastify has made that easier than it ever was before, but we don’t expect your average website visitor to do that just to submit a support ticket, for example.

That’s not to say that Screencastify is now obsolete - quite the opposite. Screencastify is still the simplest, fastest way to create high quality videos and share them with an audience.

But when it comes to centralizing and viewing quick, unpolished screencasts from all of your users - many of whom have never made a screencast before and don’t intend to again - Hubcap is the future.

The number of ways we anticipate Hubcap will be utilized is massive, including:

  • Customer support: users submit a quick video demonstrating their issue or question
  • Marketing: give your customers an easy way to submit an authentic testimonial
  • Recruiting: ask candidates to submit a short introductory video along with their application

As with Screencastify, Hubcap’s potential is as expansive as the imagination of our users.