Early stage startups are both incredibly exciting and dreadfully precarious, so using a customer service software like Kayako, an Intercom alternative is common among such nascent enterprises. Resources are often scarce, and the reason most startups fail in these initial stages is because of the fact that they don’t allocate their resources in the right places. One common mistake that a lot of startups make is that they don’t allocate enough funds for customer service. The general modus operandi is to outsource it to someone, usually a part time worker who would not be asking for a lot of money.
This is a mistake because customer service is no less important than any other area of business that a startup has to take into account. In fact, in a lot of ways customer service is one of the most important areas of business for startups, because they are developing their brand during the initial stages. Mistakes made in the customer service department during these early stages are going to have a disproportionate impact on the future of your startup. It could potentially turn customers against you. There is nothing more dangerous for a startup that is still in its early stages.
Tactics That Can Help You Succeed
The fact of the matter is that doing business these days isn’t nearly as easy as it used to be. This is because of the fact that pretty much any market that you would try to break into is going to be dreadfully saturated. Most big ideas have already been thought of in the markets that already exist, and finding a new market to exploit would be a very difficult thing to do because there just aren’t that many left. If there is one thing that can guarantee a successful business at least to some extent, it is the uniqueness of the experience you give to your customers.
The reason that this can help you is because it would create a vocally supportive customer base for you. It can be tough for a competitor to take a bite out of your pie if you have such a dedicated customer base, because consumers are famous for being driven by emotional and subjective ideas rather than cold hard facts. This gives you a solid and unassailable competitive advantage that will last as long as you are able to maintain the unique experience your products provide.
Now, the question you might be asking is how you can make such an incredible experience for your customers in the first place. The first thing you will obviously have to do is invest the right kinds of resources towards this endeavor. This might worry some startups that don’t have a lot of capital that they can work with at this point, but the most precious resource that you could possibly dedicate towards crafting a phenomenal experience for customers is time. Investing time in good customer service can help you out a lot during your early stages.
However, as someone that is responsible for a startup you probably don’t have a lot of time to spare. It’s not just the time that you are spending that will, in a way, suffer because of this either. It is also the focus you will end up losing because you were forced to wear two hats at the same time. After all, customer service is a pretty tough field, and it requires quite a bit of time and effort to master. The tips provided below can help you give the customer service experience your very best shot.
#1 Mention Your Title Everywhere
If you are the owner and operator of a startup, that is a pretty big deal. One thing you need to realize is that you are your company’s most valuable asset in terms of marketing, because you are the public face of the company. You should sign emails with your name, especially if those emails are going to go to customers who have made a complaint or asked a question about the products and services that you provide. Any customer that calls in for customer service also needs to know who they are talking to!
This will make your customers feel special. After all, they asked a simple question and got a response from someone very high up the food chain! Just because you are handling customer service yourself doesn’t mean that you need to act like an anonymous CSR after all. Your customer will definitely feel like their concerns are being addressed if they get an email from the CEO of the company they contacted.
You can clearly see that this has created a special type of experience for your customer. It has accentuated the customer service aspect of your company and made you seem like someone that takes their customers seriously. Little things like this can really boost your startups growth potential.
#2 Start With The Newest Complaints And Queries
If you have a lot of emails or messages from customers, you might think that you should start by replying to the email you got first. The older the email, the longer the customer has been waiting after all. That is an intuitive and logical way to go about it. It is also completely wrong.
You need to answer the newest emails first. This is because the queue that your customers are waiting in doesn’t really exist. They aren’t actually standing in a line, unable to do anything else. The customers that have already been kept waiting can wait a little while longer, but if you respond to the newer customers first you will be giving them a much more efficient experience.
It is better to give some customers instant replies instead of giving all customers a relatively delayed response. This will guarantee you some customers that are praising the experience you provide to counteract the ones you responded late to. This may seem like a strange way to do things, but it is out of the box thinking like this that will help you set yourself apart from the crowd.
#3 Don’t Delay Before Passing Customers On
If you have taken this task upon yourself, one the biggest obstacles you are going to face is yourself. This is because there are going to be a lot of customers that you won’t be able to handle. There are a lot of people in your company, some of whom will have been hired to do jobs that you can’t perform yourself. This means that there are technical aspects of your company that these people will have better knowledge of.
A lot of the customers that will be contacting you will have questions about or problems with these aforementioned technical aspects. Admitting that you won’t be able to handle this particular interaction on your own is going to be tough because you are probably used to handling everything for your company. However, the sooner you hand the customer off to someone that knows what they want and how to give it to them, the better the overall experience will be for your customer. Treat yourself like the point of contact, and hand the customer over as soon as things get beyond your ability to handle.
#4 Be Proactive About The Customer Experience
A good customer experience needs to be more than just a task you need to accomplish. If you are genuinely interested in giving your customers the best experience possible, you are going to end up being proactive about it. Whenever a customer phones in with a query or problem, take the initiative and try to maximize their experience in any way you can. If you run a travel agency, try to upgrade your customer’s seats or try to waive any extra charges that they might end up having to pay.
The great thing about things like this is that it will surprise your customer. More often than not, customers are a little weary of asking companies for anything extra. They don’t want to be let down after all. Hence, if you end up being proactive about giving them a good experience they are going to be very pleasantly surprised indeed. This can give them a reason to keep coming back to you. The whole idea of building a loyal customer base rests on you giving people more than what they asked for, by giving people what they think they can’t ask for at all.
#5 Always Have An Offer
When a customer phones in, they are usually expecting a long and arduous slog to get the problem that they are facing resolved as quickly as possible. The fact of the matter is that you are probably going to be a lot better at handling these problems because you are doing all of it yourself without having to deal with the bureaucracy that CSRs often have to deal with. Hence, your customers are probably going to be very grateful to you, and are going to be willing to do you a favor.
There are a lot of things that you can ask your customers to do. For example, you could ask them to leave a review for your app or whatever other product you are offering to people. You can also ask them to give you their opinion on what you could change. Another thing you can do is ask existing customers to try out more features. Offer a free trial run and you would be surprised at how many people end up signing on to pay the full amount. These are great ways for you to build a loyal customer base that would last a long time.