Being a startup is no excuse for offering shoddy customer service. In fact, startups are expected to be slicker and more modern than their incumbent, traditional counterparts – and you’ll be seriously disappointing your customers’ expectations if you fail to deal with their issues and queries in a timely and professional manner. In light of this pressure and expectation, this article looks at how you can maintain the best possible customer service for your startup customers in 2020 – helping build trust in your brand at a time when consumers are suffering from the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
First up, let’s take a look at your customer service team – and specifically at the managers who run this team. It’s likely that, as a startup, your customer service team is small. That’s to be expected, and you’ll be ready to scale-up once your customer figures reach above a certain critical value. Yet it’s in the here and now – with the customer feedback you’re currently receiving – that you need to deal with your customers in a five-star way.
Managers are the key component of your customer service team. It’s managers who set an example for their staff, and it’s to managers that the majority of angry customers will be asked to be redirected to talk to. As such, hiring an experienced customer services professional – one who has managed a team before – is crucially important for a startup that’s still finding its feet in the market.
Easy contact forms
The majority of consumers have been so scarred by poor customer service on the phone that they’d prefer to submit a form, send an email, or even post a letter to your firm. Being on hold for up to an hour is surely one of the most frustrating experiences a consumer can have with a business they engage with – and can create instant bad publicity for your company.
It’s therefore imperative that you offer your customers a number of ‘contact us’ options, so that they’re able to offer their feedback in whichever way they prefer. These should include, as a minimum:
- One or two different phone numbers, with the appropriate extension, so that you’re able to answer queries made over the phone.
- An email address to which customers can send their feedback, complaints, and issues.
- A ‘contact us’ form, which you can add as a plugin to your website with ease.
- Social media – the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, in particular – where you can conduct informal conversations with customers.
All of these contact options will help your customers feel listened to. And yet there’s one type of customer service feature that is considered the most popular and efficient in the modern business environment: the instant chat.
On your website, offering a live chat option – where an instant messaging plugin will open up a link between a customer and one of your customer service professionals – is seen as the industry leader in professional, efficient customer service. All your customers have to do to conduct a quick conversation with your customer service personnel is open the chat, and send a quick message. If you’re able to reply with a team member instantly, you’ll make a terrific impression on your customer.
Meanwhile, there’s the option of setting up a chatbot for the initial response to the customers’ messages. Here, the chatbot will help categorize the nature of the correspondence from your customer, ensuring that your customer service staff are able to assist as quickly as possible with customer requests.
Some of your startup employees might be working in customer services having never gained experience in a similar role at a different firm. It’s likely, therefore, that you’ll be offering sub-standard customer service if you’re using inexperienced and untrained professionals for this important department of your growing business.
Training up your customer service professionals is easy. There are intensive two-day training modules out there that offer a crash-course in customer service – and other digital courses, taken from home, that’ll qualify your staff to work ‘at the coal face’ with customers, helping resolve their queries in a timely, professional and friendly manner.
Setting yourself apart
The majority of startups are in the digital sphere. Whether your firm operates an app, offers software as a service, or is based on the web, you’ll be dealing with digital-native consumers who expect a high level of service, instant responses to their feedback, and compensation should your firm fail to meet their expectations.
You need to rise to meet this expectation. With so many review sites out there scrutinizing your new firm, the repercussions of a couple of bad customer experiences can be profound. Don’t let yourself get bogged down in one-star ratings and arguments with disgruntled customers; instead, set yourself apart by prioritizing excellence in customer service from the get-go.
Invest in automation
What consumers tend to detest about customer service is being redirected to a call center in a different country, where they’re perfectly aware that their time is about to be wasted by an agency that provides cheap labor and poor customer service. Most consumers will prefer an automated response to their queries than a human one that wastes their time.
Again, this is where chatbots and automated answering machines come in. Take the effort out of your customer service, and reduce the workload on your customer services department, by automating certain features of their workflow – particularly those initial exchanges that help you identify the customer in your database.
Finally, it might seem like a self-evident point, but you should ensure that your staff deal with customers in a friendly and professional manner in every single encounter – be that online, over the phone, or in person. Each interaction leaves an impression – and if you’re able to leave good impressions across your current customer base, you’ll be sure to retain more customers, and attract further custom, into the future.
There you have it: some of the most important areas of customer services to focus on in 2020 – especially in a time when consumers are frustrated by the coronavirus crisis, and are looking out for trustworthy companies with which to trade.