Your new business absolutely will live or die by the degree to which you delight your customers. It is vital that you plan to make your customers’ experience seamless and that your product lives up to or exceeds their expectations. Part of that experience is the support and cooperation that the customer gets when they need your help. Delivering an experience of true delight will also build customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention.
Engaging in Dynamic Learning with Customers
Customer Service takes over where sales leaves off to provide:
- Account management and billing support
- Product setup and training
- Ongoing technical help and troubleshooting
- Grievance handling and resolution
Many startups, particularly those selling Software as a Service (Saas) products, are tempted to forego the costs of a high-touch customer service department. Instead, they invest heavily in do-it-yourself training and customer support in the form of HTML and video tutorials. If you’re moving in this direction, be sure to really test your support function with real users first. Make sure you’re not losing them along the way. Also, consider what you would learn about your customers and your product if you had live ears in that process.
One company that ditched its do-it-yourself approach to customer service and support calls it the “best decision we made.” Pixlee, a branded content service, notes that when they began offering “every customer, regardless of size, a personal onboarding experience, either on the phone or face-to-face, they started gathering information critical to the company’s development.”
“These calls enable us to connect with every customer, understand their expected outcomes from using our product, address their specific needs and use-cases, and provide the solutions to help them succeed,” wrote Kyle Wong in a recent Forbes article. The high-touch approach enabled the company to validate and evolve product-market fit, understand use real product cases, and hone their positioning and message.
Keys to outstanding service:
- Set clear objectives for your customer experience and for your organization’s ability to deliver it. Then visit and evaluate your progress towards those goals at least once a week.
- Be available. Even if it’s you and a partner getting up in the middle of the night to take a call, plan to make yourself available to customers when they need you. If it’s an outsourced customer service call center somewhere, make sure you’ve purchased enough lines so your customers can get through promptly. And be sure to extend your customer support operation out through your social media channels as well.
- Be empathetic and listen to what they are experiencing, even if it’s not something that’s in your control. You’ll learn a lot while taking the first step towards resolution.
- Invest yourself and your people in finding creative solutions with them to find a solution to their concern.
- If your company has let them down, acknowledge it and fix it.
- Make sure there’s a way to integrate what you learn from customers into your product design process.
Motivate Your Customer Service People
Customer services jobs are notoriously difficult and high turnover is common. You can build a better organization by giving real care to training, mentoring, acknowledging, and rewarding your customer service representatives. They are on the front-line, so when they tell you what’s really happening with your products, make sure you value their feedback and provide meaningful responses on critical issues.
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