Quick! Name a company that provided you great customer support in the last month. You might have to think for a minute. It seems that the negative customer service experiences spring to mind faster than the positive ones. Was that the case for you? With a new startup, a customer support fail could color a new customer’s opinion of you forever. Turn your attention, early in your business operations, to winning them over. To do that, follow these customer support pointers.
Generate Great Support Documentation
[link to post] Head off customer issues before they arise by providing great support documentation. Whether you produce a tangible product or a digital one, create material that explains its use and troubleshoots possible issues. You’ll make a customer happy from the get-go if they feel confident in using your product. Make sure it includes information on how to reach you, though. Below are some ways you might do that.
Provide Appropriate Points of Contact
You probably have reams of research on your target audience’s habits. You know which channels to use, for example, to reach them through advertising. Use the same approach for customer support. Whether your customers tend to use video apps like FaceTime, reach out to companies on Twitter, or prefer email, make the right channels available to them. Put your contact information directly on your product when possible, or clearly on the landing page of your website. Nothing frustrates an already upset customer like having to search for your email address.
If possible, let the person know how soon to expect a response. For example, if they fill out a form on your website, set it up to automatically send an email saying “We’ll get back to you within 24 hours.” If you use phone support, include a feature that tells the person how long they can expect to wait on hold, or better yet, offers a return phone call. If you use WordPress for your website, shop for plugins to help with customer contact.
When customers do reach you directly, through any of these channels, prepare to provide great service. Read on to learn how.
Stand Behind Your Product or Service
Whether you’re the founder, the CEO, or the head of customer service — and with a startup, you’re likely all three — take ownership. When you interact with a customer, tell them who you are. Contact with the head of a company impresses customers, because they know you truly care about their business. One way to communicate your role, as Help Scout suggests, is simply to put your title in your email signature. Convey the same information whether on Twitter, over the phone, or in other forms of contact. When it comes to social media, a photo of the company founder as the profile images conveys ownership as well. Tell the world you stand behind, and speak for, your company. Of course, you only have so many hours in your day, so you will eventually need help. So…
Give Your Team That Same Sense of Ownership
Anyone who answers a phone call, email, or social media message on your behalf should share your commitment to great service. You support team will stand by your company and its products if you empower them to do so. Even if you hire a person a few hours a week to take phone calls from a remote location, educate that person on your product. Let them use it. Keep them in the loop about what’s going on in the company. Show them that when the company succeeds, they succeed.
To achieve a cohesive, invested team, of course you’ll need to choose the right staff in the first place. Help Scout offers a list of traits, some more obvious than others, that you should seek in a customer support professional.
Have you ever called a company and had to explain your problem four times, to four different people? What a waste of time, both for the customer and the company. Set up a system in which your various team members can document and share information about a customer. Whether you escalate a call at the moment or need to get back to the person later, prepare appropriately. Show that you and others have been listening and want to resolve the concern in a timely manner.
On a similar note, keep track of customer issues and share them even after they’re resolved. When everyone is talking, you will discover patterns and perhaps places to improve your product or service for future iterations. You can also anticipate customer questions in order to understand them more quickly when someone contacts you.
Thank Your Customers
Without customers, you don’t have a business. That includes the customers you don’t exactly want to take out for a beer. The Balance says, “Gratitude is memorable, and it can remind your customers why they shopped at your store or hired your company.” Regardless of the outcome of a customer support issue, say thank you and mean it.
Great customer support can set you apart from your competition and improve the longevity of your company. Happy customers will not only return but will share their experiences with friends and colleagues, building your business. Make customer support a priority from the moment you launch your startup!