You’ve just launched your company. You’re heads down on product development. All of a sudden, a prospective customer calls up asking about your product? Well, the product’s not on the market yet. Then you check your email and you’ve got five new emails requesting information about your company.Should you even be concerned about answering these people? Yes, of course. You’re in the pivotal stage of your company’s history, and communicating with prospective customers will provide you not only with valuable criticism on your product but also an opportunity to start developing a loyal customer base. But, where do you start? This is What Every Startup Needs to Know About Customer Service.
Create a Simple Workflow for Responding to Requests
On Hubspot.com, Michael Redbord suggests creating one simple customer request email address and then delegating response duties according to available resources. For example, you could answer emails and calls on Monday, employee No. 2 on Tuesday, and employee No. 3 on Wednesday, and on and on. Even with an extremely limited number of personnel such a structure should cover all your bases while not delegating – and overwhelming – one individual in particular to customer support responsibilities.Meanwhile, serial entrepreneur Adii Pienaar recommends adding a counterintuitive twist to your workflow: answer the newest emails first. The logic? If someone’s already waited 12 hours for a response he’s not going to be bothered waiting another hour or two. Whereas if you can answer the newest emails first you have a chance to respond, for example, within five minutes. It’s an opportunity to make an excellent first impression.Pienaar also recommends having a non-technical employee concentrate on solving problems and escalating the problem quickly to a technical resource if the non-technical person can’t help.
Take Advantage of all Customer Communications
Once you’ve helped a customer, you have an opportunity to ask them for help. Pienaar suggests taking advantage of the situation by asking good customers to write a review on an online customer acquisition platform. If they’re existing customers, he might offer to help implement one of his solutions. And if they’re a prospective customer he might make an offer to encourage them to be paying customers.Once again, it’s important to capitalize on the relationship-building potential. “In that moment, we have more of our customers’ attention,” Pienaar adds. “We can use that opportunity to not only provide a great customer service or support experience, but to make progress on other goals.”
Meet Regularly to Review Customer Problems
Let’s say you scale your team from two to 10 employees. At this point, customer service starts to be more diffuse. It’s important to get the team in one room and talk about any problems that might be trending or be extra difficult to address. Providing an open meeting for anyone from the CEO to lower level support personnel to voice their concerns keeps everyone on the same page and helps curtail problems early.Meeting frequently also gives the decision makers an opportunity to hear what customers want and adapt their product roadmap. “These are the people who took a risk on you early,” Redbord says, “and they can turn into your biggest advocates over time if you pay back that trust they place in you.”
Leverage Human Connection to Delight Customers
Always try to go the extra mile to deliver more value to your customers. Pienaar recounts while on a business trip messaging the airliner KLM to see if he could get an earlier flight home. The airliner responded quickly and upgraded his ticket free of change. While there are other cheaper airlines available, it’s moments like that that keep him a dedicated KLM customer.If you’re already on the phone with a customer, it pays to do what you can to help them get a little extra value out of your product or services. Other opportunities to impress your customer base include delivering swag and thank you notes.“[By taking time to provide extra value] you are surprising your customer and giving them a moment of delight, which definitely buys you some goodwill,” says Pienaar.
Don’t Obsess About Efficiency
As Redbord explains, it might be tempting to concentrate heavily on streamlining your support processes while sacrificing customer service. Don’t do it. “When you’re small – just a person or two – the leverage you get from support is by delivering amazing service and experiences that differentiate you from your competitors, not by doing a ticket 2 percent faster,” he says. “While you’re small, fix your eyes on your customer and their success, not on your systems and your efficiency.”It’s also important not to let your engineers hack together patch solutions that will need to be maintained down the road. In the short term, you might solve customer problems quickly but in the long run you could be looking at needing a total app overhaul, which can be expensive.It’s easy to overlook, especially in growth-stage companies that are focused on delivering the best product they can, but customer service matters from day one. A bad experience with your company early on, even if it is not your fault, can turn a prospective customer away from you for life. And, when you’re fighting for every account, you can’t afford to lose anyone. Invest in your customer service operation just like you do you product development and human resources, and grow it right alongside the rest of your business. Your customers will thank you.
Thats What Every Startup Needs to Know About Customer Service. Hopefully it helped! You can get started on obtaining capital here.