I’ve heard it over and over. Interview after interview. The majority of successful startup founders stress this ideal and it should come as no surprise. Can you guess what one of the most common ideals they express as extremely important is?
Surprise: Listening to the users’ needs and the importance of customer service. Luckily, many of the successful startup founders we’ve interviewed have shared their best customer service tips with us and we’ve collected them here for viewing pleasure.
On one level it seems obvious but to some still, it’s not as straight ahead so it’s important to remember that now that you’ve launched your startup in order to solve a real problem, that problem can bring with it new problems to solve. The user is going to let you know exactly what he or she needs. Even when things may get ugly and the users not diplomatically saying it, he or she is addressing something that they actually care enough to tell you about.
Most users will communicate in a way that reflects the way they are communicated to so if your not in direct contact with your users via a blog, Twitter, or Facebook, then keep that in mind. Social media outlets allow you to initiate a conversation with the users of your product so this kind of interchange can already generate an early and healthy line of communication with users.
In addition, it’s also important that you wont’ be able to please everyone. It’s simply impossible but whenever possible, do what you can to make sure their experience with your product is the absolute best it can be.
PostalPix cofounder Michael Sarlitt puts it this way, “Aim to please your customers, but understand there are some that you never will… Once we hear about a certain product or feature enough times that everyone remembers it, we know it’s time to seriously consider implementing it.”
In addition he adds that for startups just getting their feet wet, the best piece of advice he would offer is, “Provide world class service and your customers will love you through thick and thin. Customers can tell if you truly care about their experience.”
The Extra Mile
Since you’re the expert and someone is spending their hard earned cash on your product, it’s essential that you hone your communication skills. Imagine yourself in their shoes. If you wouldn’t be satisfied by the communication nor the solution yourself if you were in their position, then it’s time to rethink your communication.
Remember to fix your mistakes also. If you’ve messed up, admit it, apologize, and make it right. You’re aim is always for the highest quality product and if you don’t take responsibility for your mistakes, then you’ll surely not only lose a customer but you’ll also begin to garner a bad reputation and we all know a bad reputation is one of the most hurtful elements to any startup’s eventual success. It can be a difficult job, but it’s not only worthwhile to your startup, but it’s also central to you ultimate goal of doing what you do best with the highest human standards possible.
Even Byron Wier of ShipStation notes the difficulty, “The greatest challenge was staying ahead of the rapid customer growth. We quickly grew to a point that required everyone in the organization to shift their focus to customer support as their top priority. With an emerging product, everything you do is fruitless if you can’t retain the customers you already have and make sure their experience serves as a testimony for others.”
If you keep these elemental ideas in the core of your approach with your product, your startup, and the company culture of your startup, you’ve taken a significant step on the path of success.