6 Customer Service Tips For StartupsNovember 4, 2018
When your startup is first established, you are going to be working in a manner that would be quite different from your final work process when your startup is well established and profitable. Customer service is similarly going to change greatly as your startup grows, evolving to meet the ever changing needs of a customer base that is figuring out what it wants from you.
There are a lot of reasons why this is the case. To start off with, your startup is not going to have a lot of employees during its initial stages. It might very well be just you working on all of the aspects of your company on your own. Even if you have hired a few employees, they would be too few in number to compare to how things would be when your startup is earning a lot more money. After all, each employee costs money, and we’re not just talking about salaries here. Health insurance, office space, utilities, expenses, all of these costs are incurred when you have someone working for you. Hence, for the purpose of saving money, you will be making do with fewer employees in the initial stages of your startup.
Your priorities are also going to be very different during the nascent stages of your startups lifecycle. For example, customer service is not going to be very high up the list, and for good reason. You have more important things to think about, but this does not mean that communicating with customers is rendered completely useless. There is a lot to be gained from speaking to customers, and one of these very important things is customer feedback.
Your company will not be complete without the feedback of customers. This is what will help you hone your initial idea into a product that would do legitimately well in the market. It will also give you a better understanding of what customers in your target market are expecting from the products that they buy.
Hence, there is a very clear path for customer service representatives to take during the nascent stages of your startups development. Customer feedback needs to be acquired, but it also needs to be understood in a way that would make it easy to apply in the various stages of product development.
This is obviously easier said than done. In order to help you on your journey, we have compiled a list of customer service recommendations that you should apply while your startup is in its initial stages.
#1 Create a Simple Process
One of the biggest mistakes that startups make during this stage is that they spend too much time refining their workflow process. It is understandable that this is the case. You want things to run as smoothly as possible in your startup, and this is a good way to start doing that. However, most of the techniques you will use to make things more efficient in your startup are not going to be easy to scale once your company starts to grow in size.
This is why it is best to adopt a utilitarian approach at first. Make the workflow as simple as possible, get the information from your customers and pass it on to whoever needs it in order to optimize your products. The important thing to remember is that the early stages of a startup involve a lot of learning for everyone involved. You need to take this into account and let things develop organically rather than trying to force something to happen.
#2 Hold Regular Meetings
Let’s face it, nobody really likes having to go to meetings. They are often boring and a lot of bosses are notorious for holding an unnecessary number of meetings for things that can easily be discussed over an office memo or through an email or message. However, just because other bosses do this does not mean that you have to as well. You can hold pertinent meetings for things that are absolutely necessary to discuss.
The reason that meetings are important is because they can ensure that everyone is on the same page. During the early stages of your startup’s development, the team that you are going to be working with will have to be as close knit as possible. In order to bring each disparate team member closer together, meetings are going to be essential.
It is also important for you to listen to what your customers have to say. Holding regularly meetings can help you stay up to date with the needs of your customer base, and it can bring everything out in the open for the people working in product development. Overall, regular meetings are what will help you implement what you are learning from the customer feedback you are collecting.
#3 Make Problem Solving a Team Effort
Whenever a customer has a problem, your customer support team should be there to help you solve it. These are the people that most intimately understand what a customer wants. The problem with most startups is that there is a very fixed hierarchy in place, and customer support is often on the lower end of that hierarchy. This level of bureaucracy should have no place in modern startup culture.
Managing a startup means that you have a lot to handle, but in the beginning you can be single minded in your focus. The number of things that need to be managed will grow as your startup develops into a full fledged company, but during the initial stages this is not the case which allows you to focus on things like keeping your customers happy.
Hence, whenever a customer has a problem with some aspect of your products or services, you can involve the entire team in the attempt to fix whatever went wrong. This is also going to help build synergy among all of the employees of your startup. Having everyone work together like this can make the whole enterprise seem like a team effort which can do wonders for team morale.
#4 Remain Committed to Learning Everyday
Someone that runs a startup is going to be very determined to attain a significant level of forward movement. Customer feedback can often be one of the biggest roadblocks to this forward movement. It is therefore understandable that you might get frustrated by the constant revisions that you have to make to your products and services based on what your customers are saying.
However, you need to keep reminding yourself that this customer feedback is essential. This is what will allow you to learn every day. No matter how experienced you think you are, if this is your first startup you will have to get used to a different way of doing business. Once you learn how to do this, the whole process of setting things up will become a great deal easier.
That being said, remaining committed to the learning process during the initial stages is the only thing that would allow you to get to a point where you can progress fearlessly and incessantly. Don’t get wrapped up in what you want, try to focus instead on what the customer wants.
#5 Wait Before Trying to Optimize
Big companies need to optimize efficiency. Getting a ticket management system can really make things a lot more efficient, and a Zendesk alternative like Kayako is a great way to get the job done in the best way possible. It can be tempting to get right on these things and attempt to optimize for efficiency in advance. However, one thing you should keep in mind is that the optimization process is not very conducive to high quality customer service.
Once things have been streamlined in the long run, a decent level of quality can be maintained. However, the only reason companies go for this tradeoff is because of the fact that they have so many customers phoning in every day. When your company is just starting out, there is no need for you to optimize. It can actually create unnecessary roadblocks to providing high quality customer care.
Your focus should be on quality. There won’t be enough volume for efficiency to be an issue anyway, which means that you can instead focus on giving each customer special treatment. This is what will allow you to excel and develop loyal customers who will stay by your side.
#6 Don’t Cut Corners
This is particularly important for managing your engineering department. A lot of the engineers you will be working with will want to take shortcuts and create workarounds. These things helps get the job done quickly and engineers often don’t want to take the long route so they are kept happy by allowing this to happen, but these shortcuts end up creating problems that you will have to handle in the future.
You might think that offering quick solutions is the best way to grow and satisfy customers. This does sound good at first, but if you think about it you are going to end up creating a lot more problems than you solve. It is therefore important to think long term, especially when it comes to bug fixes. When a customer faces a problem, don’t be afraid to spend a lot of time fixing it. This is going to delay your eventual success but quick fixes are unnecessary risks that you should avoid taking whenever possible. Remember, you need to be smart if you want your startup to survive, unlike the other nine out of your ten that won’t end up making it.