A startup owner may wear a dozen hats on any given day, including those of a business analyst, marketer, human resources personnel, inventory clerk, warehouse manager, and customer service agent, among others.
With so many competing priorities for attention, it can be difficult to ensure that your customers receive excellent service without detracting from an already stretched budget and timetable.
However, it is possible that things will be different. We’ve compiled a list of seven customer service wins that are both low-cost and high results.
1. Establish Measurable Goals and Trajectories
You want to provide excellent customer service to your clients. After all, they are the lifeblood that will propel your startup to the status of a full-fledged small business, and they deserve the best.
However, simply stating that you want to provide excellent customer service is not trackable, and if it is not trackable, you cannot create a path to it. While a journey without a destination can be exciting, you can’t afford to be without a clearly defined route when you’re working with limited resources.
Instead of aiming for perfect service, set goals that your customer service representatives can measure and use to validate their progress. For example, measuring your net promoter score after each interaction is a simple way to keep track of your progress toward better service. (A net promoter score is a scale that determines the likelihood that a customer will recommend your startup to others.)
However, it is not the only type of measurement that can be used to track your progress. The average first response time and full resolution time are also used metrics to employ.
In any case, as long as your goals are measurable, you can devise a strategy to achieve them and establish benchmarks for future progress. If they cannot be measured, your service team will be forced to rely on their subjective perceptions of how to best reach them.
And there is only one source of subjective opinion that your company should believe: that of its customers.
2. Request Feedback (and Actually Use it)
Children learn by observing their peers and parents, and the same is often true in business. After all, how did you learn to be a customer service representative? Most likely by watching someone else do it.
However, while that approach will get you a long way, it will not get you all the way because your customers and business have unique needs. And discovering and addressing those needs is surprisingly simple: all you have to do is ask. When possible, use polls and feedback to gauge engagement and shape your customer service philosophies.
Act on the feedback you receive by experimenting with the suggestions and criticisms provided by your customers via A/B testing or multivariate testing.
3. Replace your shared inbox with a helpdesk suite.
Many startups put off implementing helpdesk software for their teams in order to save money wherever possible. When there are few customers and even fewer agents, using a shared email inbox to track your tickets and inquiries makes sense. However, your customers will eventually outgrow the constraints of an inbox, even if your team does not grow to match them.
When this occurs, you have two choices:
- Continue to struggle to resolve tickets as quickly as possible.
- Implement a unified helpdesk system.
The second option does not need to be costly or time-consuming.
In fact, switching from another helpdesk to a SaaS-based solution can save your startup money. At least, that’s what the Hamleys discovered after switching. The 60-franchise-large toy shop implemented their new helpdesk software, Freshdesk, in 48 hours and cut their costs by half.
4. Make your knowledge base your first line of defense.
Most people, given the option, will try to solve their problems or find answers to their questions on their own. This is great news for a startup with a small team. Rather than directing all customer inquiries to your team, empower them to assist themselves by creating a comprehensive knowledge base.
Guides and how-to manuals for using specific features of your product are a good place to start when building your knowledge base.
Your service agents may be able to provide you with additional information to include in your knowledge base. What are the most frequently asked questions? Can you turn these into articles for your knowledge base? Which of your product’s features has the steepest learning curve? While you should start with the fundamentals, you can gradually broaden your knowledge base. The more information you provide users, the more likely they are to answer their own questions.
5. Use chatbots as your second line of defense.
The small size of a startup’s service team is part of the challenge. Your agents will inevitably need to take time off, and while your customers understand this, they still want their issues resolved as soon as possible.
This is where chatbots come into play.
If someone has a question that they can’t find in your knowledge base, a chatbot can help them find the answer, regardless of the time of day or who is in the office.
Freshdesk allows you to quickly set up your chatbot and connect it to your knowledge base.
6. Develop Interactive Tutorials to Enhance Onboarding
This is similar to building a comprehensive knowledge base, but it is a little more hands-on for both the customer and your staff.
You can create interactive tutorials for some of your product’s most common features, freeing up service agents to focus on larger customer service issues. You can do it as part of your onboarding process, as Venngage does.
If not, you can replicate this process with e-commerce products by making explainer videos and sending customers a link after they make a purchase.
Approximately 93 percent of businesses say that creating product explainer videos has improved user understanding of their products, and 36 percent say that as a result, their customer service staff has received fewer tickets.
The less time your team spends explaining how to use a feature, the more time they have to respond to more serious issues.
7. Reduce response time to increase customer satisfaction.
This is arguably the most difficult task for a startup to take on. The longer your customers have to wait to receive a response to their inquiries, the less satisfied they will be when they do.
In fact, a long response time can result in a 15% increase in customer churn.
So, if a customer still needs or wants to contact your customer service after going through your knowledge base, tutorials, and chatbots, you must respond as soon as possible.
Simply put, your customer satisfaction levels are at stake. It’s best if you can get it done in an hour or less.
If you can’t get your response time down to that level, the next best thing is to set up an autoresponder to notify customers when they can expect a response.
If you can’t fit your response time into a one-hour window, at the very least let customers know when they can expect a response.
Startups frequently have small teams and small budgets. It’s an exciting way for an entrepreneur to break into the business world, but it requires juggling a lot of responsibilities, none of which can be overlooked. Most notably, customer service.
There are some simple, low-cost solutions for improving the operations of your service team.
Begin by setting measurable goals for your department. Then, solicit feedback from your customers and act on what they say.
Consider upgrading to a cohesive helpdesk system if you’re currently using a shared inbox. Create a comprehensive knowledge base while you’re at it so your customers can help themselves. With a chatbot, you can make it easier for them to sort through your knowledge base. You can also improve your onboarding process by using interactive tutorials.
Finally, combine all of these suggestions to keep your response time as short as possible. If you can’t respond to a customer’s question within an hour, let them know when you will.
They may not be pleased with the wait, but they will be relieved to know when they will receive a response. You wouldn’t be, wouldn’t you?