Sales and marketing, product development, legal, financials …
There are plenty of things to think about when your startup is in its infancy. So much so that one important element is often treated as an afterthought.
That element is customer service.
It’s understandable why your focus is on those other factors. You’re trying to grow a business and become profitable. However, the truth is this: getting customer service right is just as important as generating leads. As a startup, you are in a unique position to build a customer service strategy as you build your company. Here are ten ways you can rock customer service right from the start.
#1. Solicit Feedback From Your Customers
Whenever possible, ask your customers for feedback. Place surveys on your website. Add a comment box to order and subscription forms. Post questions on social media.
By actively soliciting customers for their thoughts, you are accomplishing two things. First, you are communicating to them that their thoughts matter to you. You’re also gaining valuable insights into what people are thinking about your company and its products.
#2. Create Scripts That Focus on Empathy: Then Empower Your Team
When done poorly, customer service scripts can seem robotic and a bit tone deaf. However, if you focus on making them informative and empathetic, they can work quite well. Scripts allow you to streamline many of your more common and easier customer service interactions.
Just remember that it’s important to let anyone acting in a customer service capacity know that going off script in order to provide great service is okay as well. Efficiency and procedure should never trump the creation of an excellent customer experience.
#3. Let People Know Who They Are Speaking With
This is one way in which early stage startups can really impress customers. When founders also wear the customer service ‘hat’, it can make the customer experience quite impressive. Team members should give their name along with their position when responding to customer service inquiries.
“Hi, I’m John Smith! I’m the Chief Operations Officer at ABC Design. Can you please describe your problem to me?”
When your company has grown to a team of 500 people and you have a designated support team, you won’t be able to do that very often. Take advantage of this while your company is small.
#4. Find Ways to Add Value
Give away a free product. Offer a customer a deep discount. Send out a free gift when someone places an order. Give an access code out to some gated content. Give out a free product upgrade. Invite a customer to Beta test an upcoming product. In other words, find ways to give customers something that has tangible value to them.
No, you won’t be able to do this all of the time for every customer. That would be foolish from a financial perspective as well as a customer service perspective. However, if you create an amazing experience for the right customer, you can push them from ordinary consumer to brand loyalist. The next step from there is brand ambassadorship.
#5. Make Note of The Questions People Ask
What customers tell you during customer service interactions is extraordinarily important. Don’t forget that what they ask you is important as well. Customer questions can help you to identify areas where people are getting stuck or confused.
If you can identify these areas, you can then take steps to improve them. This might include changing documentation, tweaking product design, or adding items to your knowledge base.
#6. Remember That Customer Service is Everywhere
Never make the mistake of treating email, phone, and online chat as your only customer service channels. Any place where you or one of your team members may interact with customers or potential customers is a customer service channel.
All social media pages are a customer service channel. The sales floor is a customer service channel. Events are customer service channels. In fact, these channels can be even more important than traditional ones because your interactions are often public. Take the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge, empathy, and responsiveness.
#7. Prioritize Product Quality And Infrastructure
No product is going to go to market that is absolutely perfect. What’s important to remember is that the closer you get, the fewer customer service headaches you will have in the first place. Doing rigorous testing and plenty of market research in the early stages will help.
Infrastructure is important as well. Making the right choices when it comes to web hosting, payment processing, etc. will put you on the best path from the beginning. After all, these are the areas receiving the most of customer complaints. Do plenty of research and consider all of your options.
#8. Take The Time to Get Feedback From Your Sales People
While they may not technically be customer service staff, sales people get a lot of feedback from customers and potential customers. Most importantly, they can tell you why the customers who make it all the way through the funnel did so, and why those that didn’t dropped out.
This also applies to anyone else who happens to be in a customer facing position. For example, if you have a front desk person, ask them what they have seen. They can be a great barometer of overall customer sentiment.
#9. Don’t Hesitate to Escalate
An important part of delivering great customer service is understanding two things. First, you must be able to recognize when you are in above your pay grade. The other is being aware enough that you know when the customer is reaching their frustration tolerance.
When either of these things happens, do not hesitate to escalate the issue to someone with more expertise, or to loop in a third or fourth person to help. This not only results in faster problem solving, it communicates to the customer that you are treating their issue with a sense of urgency.
#10. Use or Create a CRM That Allows You to Wow With Personalized CX
Whether you buy a CRM package or create one of your own, make sure that it contains or can be customized to contain data that allows you to create personalized customer experiences. Consider collecting and storing information such as:
- Hobbies And Interests
- Favorite Thing About Your Product
- Customer Service Notes (Good And Bad)
- Birthday And Customer Anniversary Dates
- How They Learned About Your Product
You can then take this information along with other data, e.g. purchase history, to reach out to customers on important dates, offer relevant giveaways, and create personalized experiences both online and in person.
Now is the perfect time to lay the groundwork for an amazing customer service strategy. It’s also the best time to create amazing customer experiences and build critical customer relationships. You can begin by using the ten techniques on this list.