startups

7 Simple Customer Service Tips for Startups

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On any given day, a startup owner might wear a dozen hats, taking on the role of a business analyst, marketer, human resources personnel, inventory clerk, warehouse manager, and customer service agent, among other things.

With so many priorities competing for attention, it can be daunting to ensure your customers receive top-grade service without detracting from an already strained budget and timetable.

It could be different, though. We’ve compiled seven customer service wins that are low on costs and high on results.

1. Set Trackable Goals and Trajectories

You want to provide great customer service for your consumers. After all, they’re the lifeblood that’s going to transform your startup into a full-fledged small business, and they deserve the best.

But simply saying you want to deliver top-class customer service isn’t trackable, and if it isn’t trackable, you can’t create a path to it. While a journey without a destination might be an adventure, you can’t afford not having a clearly defined route when you’re working with limited funds.

So, instead of setting your sights on perfect service, create goals that your customer agents can measure and use to validate their progress. For instance, measuring your net promoter score after every interaction is an easy way to track your goals towards better service. (A net promoter score is a scale used to determine how likely a customer is to recommend your startup to others.)

startupsBut it’s not the only type of measurement you can use to track your progress. Average first response time and full resolution time are also relevant metrics to use.

In any case, as long as your goals can be measured, you can create a plan to reach them and set benchmarks for future progress. If they can’t be measured, your service team will be forced to rely on their subjective interpretations of how best to reach them.

And there’s only one source of subjective opinion that your business should trust: your customer’s.

2. Ask for Feedback (and Actually Use it)

Children learn things by watching their peers and parents, and that strategy is often true in business as well. After all, how did you learn to provide customer service? Probably by watching someone else do it.

But while that approach can get you far, it can’t take you all the way, because your customers and business have unique needs. And finding out about those needs and addressing them is surprisingly easy: all you have to do is ask. Use polls and feedback whenever you can to measure engagement and shape your customer service philosophies.

startupAct on the feedback you receive—experiment with the suggestions and criticisms that your customers provide through A/B testing or multivariate testing.

3. Ditch Your Shared Inbox for a Helpdesk Suite

In an effort to cut costs wherever they can, many startups delay onboarding a helpdesk software for their team. When customers are few and agents are fewer, using a shared email inbox to track your tickets and inquiries makes sense. But eventually, your customers are going to outgrow the constraints of an inbox, even if your team doesn’t grow to match them.

When that happens, you have two options:

– Continue struggling to resolve tickets promptly

– Make the change to a unified helpdesk system

The second option doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming.

In fact, it can save your startup money, especially if you’re switching from another helpdesk to a SaaS-based solution. At least, that’s what Hamleys discovered when they made the switch. In 48 hours, the 60-franchise-large toy shop implemented their new helpdesk software, Freshdesk, and cut their costs by 50%.

You can try this for your startup for free today.

4. Set Your Knowledge Base Up as Your First Line Defense

Given a choice, most people will try to fix their issues or find answers to their questions on their own. This is good news for a startup with limited team members. Rather than routing all customer inquiries to your team, enable your customers to help themselves by building a comprehensive knowledge base.

Guides and how-to manuals for using certain features of your product are a strong place to start with your knowledge base.

Additional information to consider including in your knowledge base can come from your service agents. What questions are they answering most frequently? Can these be turned into articles for your knowledge base? What features of your product have the highest learning curve? While you should begin with the basics, you could expand your knowledge base over time. The more information you give users, the better their chances of answering their own questions.

5. Make Chatbots Your Second Line Defense

Part of the struggle with a startup is how small the service team usually is. Inevitably, your agents will need to take time off, and while your customers understand that, they still want their issues taken care of as soon as possible.

That’s where chatbots come in.

If someone has a question that they can’t find in your knowledge base, a chatbot can help them find what they’re looking for, no matter what time of day it is or who is in the office.

You can set up your chatbot with Freshdesk in a matter of minutes and link it to your knowledge base.

6. Create Interactive Tutorials to Improve Onboarding

This is similar to creating a thorough knowledge base, but a little more hands-on, both for the customer and your staff.

You can create interactive tutorials for some of the most common features of your product, and allow service agents to focus on larger customer service issues. You can create them as part of your onboarding process like Venngage does.

If not, you can mimic this process with e-commerce products by creating explainer videos and sending customers a link after their purchase.

Around 93% of businesses say that creating product explainer videos have improved user understanding of their products, and of those, 36% say their customer service staff has received fewer tickets as a result.

The less time your staff is spending explaining how to use a feature, the more time they have to keep their response time down for more serious issues.

7. Keep Response Time Down to Uplift Satisfaction Rate

This is arguably the hardest for a startup to tackle. The longer your customers have to wait to receive a response to their queries, the less happy they’re going to be when they finally do receive the responses.

In fact, a long of response time can lead to a 15% increase in customer churn.

So, if after going through your knowledge base, tutorials, and chatbots, the customer still needs to or wants to connect with your customer service, you need to respond as quickly as possible.

Simply put, your customer satisfaction rates depend on it. An hour or less is ideal.

But if you can’t get your response time down to that, the next best thing would be to create an autoresponder to let customers know when to expect a response.

If you can’t get your response time into a window of one hour, you should at least let customers know when they can expect a response.

Conclusion

Startups often have small teams and limited budgets. It’s an exciting way for an entrepreneur to make their way into the business world, but it requires juggling a lot of responsibilities, and none of them can be neglected. Especially customer service.

There are some easy, cost-effective solutions for improving your service team’s operations.

Start by creating trackable goals for your department. Then, ask your customers for feedback, and act on what they tell you.

If you’re using a shared inbox, consider upgrading to a cohesive helpdesk system. While you’re at it, create a comprehensive knowledge base so your customers can help themselves. Make it easier for them to sort through your knowledge base with a chatbot. Additionally, you can improve your onboarding process with interactive tutorials.

Finally, combine all of these tips together and keep your response time as short as possible. If you can’t answer a customer’s inquiry within an hour, give them a heads up about when you can answer it.

They may not be thrilled with the wait, but they’ll be grateful to know when they will get a response. Wouldn’t you be?

Main illustration done by Sriram Govindasamy

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