Customer service · Startups

What are some easy ways to instantly improve customer support?


July 4th, 2015

Customer support/service is obviously vital to the success of every company. At a small startup where no one has free time or money, what can we do to improve our customer service without breaking the bank or spending hours on the phone with users?

Jerome Pineau Chief Digital Officer

July 4th, 2015

Why not start by listening online to what your customers are saying about you product? Find out where the conversations are occurring and start learning - that's usually step #1.

Mark Wald Managing Director at Supporting Strategies - Santa Monica

July 4th, 2015

All great comments above. In addition to everything already mentioned, consider the following:  web-based searchable knowledge base with user forum so users can help each other without requiring time & expense on your end, video tutorials, and links on your website to quick reference guides that walk users through the most common issues they'll face.

Also consider outsourcing other back-office functions such as accounting and HR to free up your skilled engineering and product resources to continue developing a more robust product and documentation library to help you scale.

Richard Harris Top 25 Inside Sales Leader, Public Speaker, 40 Most Inspiring Leader, Sales Trainer, Start-Up Advisor, SalesHacker

July 4th, 2015

Lots of great comments here I've worked with early stage start-ups and you are not alone. 

Without more detail it's hard to give a specific answer. So I would follow David Lawton's comments which in really means just get some data first.

How many CS calls are coming in per day.
What are the topics?
Can you bucket them into specific categories?
Can you create a self-serve FAQ on your site? 

Often times when you "see the data on paper" the answers become a bit easier.

Good luck

Edward M. Yang

July 5th, 2015

Say what you mean, and mean what you say. If you promise something, follow through. I've had a nightmarish experience in customer service with WooThemes. They are likely an example of how not to conduct CS.

Danny Skarka Let's do Video Production and Social Media. General Manager and Director of Production at MediaOne Studios

July 7th, 2015

I think we may have missed a key point: no one has free time or money. 

That's a difficult situation. You want to treat your customers right, but the bandwidth is just not there. One trick I've used is to empower everyone on your staff to help. In a small company, it's relatively easy to get the outward facing message and culture into the hands of the team. Trust them to help where they can. Make customer service a company role. Distribute emails and phone calls. Assign parts of CS if needed. 

It's also good for your team to hear what customers are saying. 

Kate Hiscox

July 4th, 2015

Go with a solution that has a mobile app so you can support your customers

David Telleen-Lawton Using Customer Discovery to mold innovative Master of Technology Management degree

July 4th, 2015

Well, taking the ol' engineering approach, the first question that comes to mind is "Why is customer service even needed?"  I mean that in the analytic way -- who's calling and why?

Assuming (to self: bad, not assume!) they are calling because they do not understand how to use the product (either because poorly documented or does not work as documented), then one of the most valuable things you can do is create more accurate documentation or a full product that does not break so often!

Now, if customer service time IS part of your business model, then obviously you do NOT want to minimize it.

Lastly, I hope the customer (user) contact is being used to understand how they heard of you, how they planned to use the product, how they do use it, how often, would they recommend it to a friend, what are their benefits, what changes would cause them to use it more often or get more value, etc., what do they compare it to that they also use (comparable, not replacement), and what purchase model is of interest to them...

Short answer:  Something's wrong with the Product (in the whole sense) if you are spending too much on unwanted customer service time.  Fix the product!

Roy Sequeira Rapid Reliable Results - Business & Management Consulting

July 4th, 2015

The key to success in this area is designing service into or out of - depending on your perspective- your offering.  During the design phase, actively search out any aspect that could cause a user to question or have a doubt as to what to do.  Make every possible aspect as intuitively obvious as possible so customers and users do not need to call.  

This seems like a trivial thing to do but many firms have entire groups doing nothing but that.  I ought to know - I was one.

Patrina Mack Experts in global commercialization

July 4th, 2015

Great comments already.   I would reinforce the concept of UX research - get the product in front of customers where you can observe where they get stuck and focus your enhancements on usability.   Also looking at your business policies and evaluate if your policies are customer unfriendly and make changes where possible.   Lastly utilize your social media channels to understand what customers like and don't like about your product.   Don't be afraid to say you're sorry if there's a major issue and invite customers to give you suggestions for how to make in better.   Bottomline embrace your imperfections, own them and fix them as fast as possible.

Antonio Santos Coordinator of the ATOS UK & IE, Social Media Center of Analytics

July 6th, 2015

Consider looking to the existing data, that you have about them...Complaints, suggestions.
Look to what your competitors are doing and try to understand if they have any competitive advantage that can put you at risk.