Today’s question comes from Miguel. Most unicorn startups seem to accept just having bad customer support during the early stages. It seems the fastest growing startups spend the least amount of time and service on customer support. Our startup wants to prioritize customer support, but what are your recommendations for different stages?
There are two schools of thought for customer support for small startups (1-3 people):
- Spend most of your time making your existing customers really happy.
- Spend most of your time acquiring new customers.
And when it’s a small startup, one of those has to give. It’s not that you have to be terrible at either of them, but you can’t prioritize both when you are in the early stages.
Have someone as close to your customers as possible. A knowledge base or contact form is not enough. In the early stages, the likelihood that bugs or issues will exist that prevent users from using your solution is high. The best way to do this is through using a chat or messenger service such as Intercom, Drift, or ZenDesk. You can also use these to enable sales by answering sales questions immediately. A new tool I tried recently did not have direct customer support and it took them a long time to get back to me (3-4 days). This could mean that they’ve either got a ton of support tickets or that they have prioritized gaining new customers.
If you’re building a startup, you should move on from focusing on customer support to sales when you have more than 100 customers. It’s in your best interest to have more dialogue with your customers while you still can. After you grow above that first 100, it’s nearly impossibly to get that type of one-on-one input from customers.
You can use that feedback to capitalize on product development opportunities, improve website copy, and improve sales tactics. All of these things keep you from missing out on all the things that make you good at sales and scaling. Every customer conversation you have early on has things you can use to your benefit in the long-run.Every customer conversation you have early on has things you can use to your benefit in the long-run. Click To Tweet
You should be doing as much customer service yourself for as long as possible until you have the financial capability to hire someone to do either marketing/sales or customer service. Every founder’s job is sales no matter the industry you are in or your background. You are accountable for sales even if your day-to-day tasks may change.
Customer service is not something you have to do when you are a startup, it’s something that can truly benefit you as you grow.
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