During the initial days, startups need to develop their value propositions. For them, the importance of customer relationships pales in comparison with products. However, such thinking may have unfathomable consequences in the coming weeks or months. But you can avoid problems by following our customer service tips for startups.
Understandably, startup founders have too much work to do during the early stage. One can say these entrepreneurs wear a dozen hats, doing all sorts of jobs. And why not? Funds are not enough, and the company is not making enough money to justify creating customer service channels.
So, what do you need to know and do?
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Startup Customer Service Tips
Customer service is a daunting task. If you, the founder, were to multitask doing different jobs, this is one area that might be too problematic. Nonetheless, providing the best possible customer support is too important to ignore.
Customers will remember you for the experience, which could be good or bad. If positive, they may become a loyal customer and recommend your brand to family and friends. But if the experience is terrible, they stop buying your products or services. Worse, they may even share their grievances on review sites, damaging your brand image.
Besides helping customers with their needs, customer support also serves another function. It is a means to collect feedback. You can then fine-tune your products and services, aligning them with market needs.
1. Have a Simple Streamlined System of Managing Customer Requests
New and small businesses do not have the resources of large companies. But you still need to provide a way for customers to get in touch. At its simplest, provide an email address and dedicated support time.
For all customer inquiries received, you must give qualitative time to resolve issues. Furthermore, you can develop a process to accumulate and learn from customer feedback. This information is not only crucial to refining your products and services. It can also be the basis of new value propositions.
As your business grows, you can add other means of communication. For example, you can provide a phone number. Some companies make full use of messaging platforms, such as Facebook Messenger. Others also use communications tools like WhatsApp.
2. Involve the Entire Team in Solving Customer Issues
As your business grows, customer support should be inclusive. You should not limit it to the customer relationship team. Consider, too, that silos may and will develop.
The customer service team, in most cases, acts as the bridge between customers and the other departments. They are your frontliners, assisting the needs of customers. But the issues they raise are relevant to others – product development, marketing, and sales teams. They all need to know about customer pains to make the necessary adjustments.
Involving the entire team is a means to ensure your company stays customer-centric. Such a measure becomes even more critical as you scale up and create specialized teams.
3. Conduct Meetings to Discuss Customer Issues
The product development team can only rely on assumptions and market studies. Under normal circumstances, they do not have access to the consumers. In this regard, any information provided by customer support is invaluable.
But silos develop as your business grows. As a result, it becomes more difficult for your teams to communicate and collaborate. A regular meeting can break the silo mentality.
Usually, such meetings involve product development, marketing, and customer service teams. One of the things discussed during these occasions is common customer issues. By sharing data and experiences, you can work on improving buyer journeys.
During these interactions, the role of customer support is invaluable. In essence, they provide data that other departments use as learning tools:
- The product development team uses the information to learn about customer pains. They can then update your products or services to enhance customer experience.
- The marketing team can use the data to create personalized marketing campaigns. These are the activities that promote awareness of your brand, products, and services.
Like marketing, the sales team needs access to customer service data. It would allow them to be much more effective at upselling and cross-selling.
4. Collect Customer Feedback
Early-stage startups may not have produced a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) yet. But that does not mean they can ignore customer support. And for those that already have an MVP, they might have onboarded customers. Suppose that is the case; their feedback can prove to be invaluable.
Customer feedback has a far-reaching implication on the success of customer support. Thus, it is vital to have a system for collecting data.
An example of data collection is recording calls. This solution lets your team focus on solving customer issues. At a later date, they can review the recordings. Other feedback you could collect is communications in other channels – email, messaging apps, SMS, and social media.
Another method of collecting feedback is to create customer satisfaction surveys. A Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey, for instance, can help you gauge satisfaction, enthusiasm, and customer loyalty.
5. Learn from Customer Needs and Demands
Yes, all companies, including you, need to listen to customer complaints and address them one by one. Remember that brand reputation can take a hit if more than a few customers complain online, writing bad reviews. But suppose you not only solve their problem but make them feel cared for beyond their expectation. In that case, you could enhance customer retention.
Customer feedback serves another vital function. You can use the information they provide to improve your products and services. As a result, you can enhance value propositions to its intended market segments.
Tracking feedback, though, can become tedious as your company grows in size. It is thus necessary to implement a customer feedback system that helps you know the customer satisfaction index. In principle, this involved asking customers if they feel satisfied with the help provided. These insights can then help you improve your support process.
One way to ease this process is to use customer feedback collection tools. For example, after closing a support case, the system automatically triggers an NPS survey. Alternatively, you may also use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool.
6. Prioritize Success Parameters
As you sell more products or services, expect the customer support team to be busier. The cases they handle can be simple, such as customers needing help using your products. But they could also be more complex, especially when the issue has to do with defects.
Because customer satisfaction is essential to creating momentum on sales and positive brand equity, you should improve your response to customer problems. On this point, there is a need to prioritize which area to enhance.
Some founders may focus on ticket Service Level Agreement (SLA). But as a new business, gaining a foothold in the market should be your primary concern. So, you have to ask yourself if the systemic integration of SLA is essential. There is a high chance you might need it at such an early stage.
Instead of focusing on any form of systemic integrations, it might be better to concentrate on increasing the efficiency of the existing process. Therefore, the goal of your customer support team should be to improve the quality of their service. The bottom line is simple – to improve customer experience.
7. Invest in Employees Who Are Great Communicators
Customer support entails interactions between brand employees and customers. As such, extensive knowledge of products and services is not enough. Your team needs to be excellent at communicating and connecting with customers.
Being a new company with limited financial resources, you may start with a small team. It is also quite possible that they have to wear many hats. In other words, you may ask them to do jobs that have nothing to do with customer support. So, regardless of whether they are multitasking or not, they need to possess the ability to communicate.
One thing to keep in mind is that their job is not easy. Quite the opposite, it can be highly stressful. Understand that the customer support team has to deal with unhappy customers. Some of them may be unreasonable. Others are not only rude but may also spew hurtful words. Because of that, you need to provide mental health care. As long as you keep the team motivated, they are more likely to increase customer satisfaction.
8. Provide Quick Response
Nothing is more irritating to unhappy customers than to keep them waiting for a long time to receive help. Over the years, you must have had your share of poor customer service. Hence, as you embark on your journey, remember not to subject your customers to those negative experiences. Take customer conversations seriously, and begin by apologizing.
Besides hiring great customer service staff, you must also optimize their workflow. If necessary, provide them with the tools to do their jobs better. In this way, your customers can receive the support they need within the least amount of time.
Timely response and positive language can go a long way in mitigating customer frustrations. As a result, it becomes easier for your customer service team to serve their needs.
Once you start to have more customers, provide more means to get in touch with you. For example, you may only provide an email at the start of your business. But later, you may consider adding phone support. Furthermore, you can also open social media accounts.
With these platforms, you are not only providing other communication channels. You can also engage with customers and establish a positive customer relationship.
9. Build a Comprehensive Knowledge Base
92% of consumers who visit a website for the first time are not there to buy. But 45% of them are looking for a product or service. Furthermore, 25% of them visited to compare products, features, or other variables. Lastly, about 10% are looking for company details. These figures alone are enough reasons to create and maintain a website.
To capitalize on your digital presence, one thing you can do is to create a knowledge base. Think of it as a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) section that contains answers to the most commonly asked questions. Make sure that it is intuitive and easy to navigate.
A knowledge base is one way to reduce waiting time. Today, more consumers are tech-savvy. Many people go to the company website to seek answers before even contacting customer support. If they can find the needed information, they are more than likely to remain satisfied with your products or services.
Excellent Customer Service Is Your Competitive Advantage
You can build a positive experience when you provide great customer service. If a customer is experiencing difficulty or has issues with your products or services, they will need your help. A great team can help resolve the problems promptly. As a result, the unhappy customers become satisfied. Even better, they may appreciate the excellent support they received. Hence, they may even spread the word, thus raising your brand equity.
Always aim to provide the best customer service. It is one of the most effective ways of raising the customer satisfaction score. With that, you can gain a foothold in the market.