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5 Easy Steps for Successful Customer Support for Your Startup

Setting up good customer support for your startup is equally important as coming up with marketing strategies, building sales funnels for your product, and defining the core functions of a finance and legal departments – the nutshell of a successful business. The customer is the foundation of any business’ success.

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Business without customers is just a group of people tossing their products around them. Why is it so important to provide customer service to all your clients even if it may take extra resources? How do you understand your customers’ needs? What can your company change in order to attract new consumers and make the existing ones stay? As a founder, you should focus not only on chasing new clients but on retaining existing ones – they’ve already become your customers and know your product or service like no other. And it’s a lot less expensive to keep a current customer than to acquire a new one.

customer success startup

5 easy steps for successful customer support for your startup

To set up and smoothly operate your customer support team, you need to come up with an algorithm of actions first. Of course, there are several dos and don’ts. Here is a step-by-step strategy I used from the very beginning of building the company and which is now used for helping our clients build or augment their customer support teams for your startup.

Step 1: Define your target audience and communication strategy

The communication strategy with your clients greatly depends on how well you know your niche on the market and your target audience in particular. Knowing your customers and their needs will allow you to build the most beneficial way of communication for both sides – you and your clients.

The crucial point here is that you use the same tone and communication style that you’ve used all the way through the sales and onboarding processes. Make sure that you have integrity within your whole department and all your representatives (be it a sales manager or customer support agent) use the same style of the conversation. 

Step 2: Choose communication channels for your customer support

Just a few years ago, customer support representatives were somewhat limited by having to deal only with telephone calls and emails. These days, there are plenty of options that work even better – online chats, various social media platforms, chat-bots, you name it.

The biggest advantage of these new tools and appliances is automation, making the everyday routine more efficient. This resulted in the origin of omni-channel customer support, which leaves customers a chance to choose the preferred support channel and to seamlessly switch between them if needed. And most importantly, with a few clicks, the information can be easily transferred from one channel to another. 

Email

To this day, emailing is one of the cheapest and most popular support communication channels. This is a great option if you are only starting out but would still love to introduce your clients to the first communication channel they can reach you by.

Being a founder, do not hesitate to personally reply to your customers from the very beginning. This will allow you to get a deeper insight into the situation. Just keep in mind that your response time should be less than 24 hours.

Social Media

Believe it or not, social media is slowly becoming one of the most popular customer support channels for startups. According to CoolerInsights, 90% of social media users at some point used this channel to communicate with a certain brand. This means that you cannot afford yourself a lack of attention towards it.

Keep in mind that social media is an open channel and everyone can see your responses. Therefore, mind a friendly tone, respond quickly and don’t be afraid to ask reasons for a bad review – this is just another way for you to learn from mistakes. In some situations don’t hesitate to offer discounts or small gifts, recent reports show that 85% of customers get influenced by that.

Live Chat

Some people are more comfortable with chatting online rather speaking to someone over the phone. Recent research and statistics reports by Kayako show us that live chat has the highest customer satisfaction levels among other traditional support channels. Live chat allows you to give quick answers to questions about your products or services, solve queries faster, and prove to your customers that you’re there when they need you.

However, keep in mind that if you decided to stick with a live chat as your primary customer support channel – be sure your support team is available 24/7. Hardly anybody would appreciate receiving a reply along the line of “Leave your contact info and we’ll get back to you later..” Otherwise, what’s the point then?

Phone Calls

No matter how many new technologies appear, phone calls will still remain one of the most popular channels of customer success. As a founder, at some point, you might find yourself lacking enough time to answer incoming phone calls. If a situation like this occurs – you better start setting up a support team. The sooner the better.

There are usually 3 situations when you want to make phone calls your prioritized customer support channel for your startup:

  • When your product/service is complicated;
  • Also, when your product/service is expensive/premium;
  • Lastly, when your product/service is time-sensitive.

However, whichever customer support channel for your startup you like the most, you have to choose at least two, where your customers are most likely to be present at. If that is email and social media – so be it. Though if the majority of your clients come from a younger audience, they would prefer a live chat or messenger. This is exactly where you have to provide support for them.

Step 3: Choose metrics

As a founder, you instinctively trust the numbers and raw statistical data – growth dynamics. To better understand in which direction your business is going, for better or worse, it’s crucial to determine correct metrics. You won’t have enough time to keep an eye on every metric possible. Choose only the most important ones to your business would be a smart move. It’s vital for your business that you review your customer support team’s performance every once in a while. For this purpose were created various metrics that make the process easier. Let’s go through the most popular ones:

  • First response time – the time between a customer submitting a case and a customer support agent replying to it.
  • First contact resolution rate – the percentage of cases resolved after the first client’s contact with your customer support representative.
  • Interactions-to-resolution – the average number of interactions to resolve a case.
  • Escalation rate – the percentage of customers that demanded to talk to a higher rank representative.
  • CSAT (Customer SATisfaction) – indicates your customers’ satisfaction, usually on a scale of 1 to 10. You’ll need to set up an automatic survey to measure this metric.

Step 4: Set your agents’ onboarding process

First of all, it’s not just about your company’s values and principles. The onboarding program should also include lots of information about your products. The whole point of the onboarding, in this case, consists of two main parts – understanding the product and the ability to successfully work as a team. Remember that the quality of the onboarding process is not only important for your clients’ satisfaction, it influences your workflow as well. Reports show that 91% of the first-year workers are retained by companies with an efficient onboarding process.

Step 5: Hire regional representatives

Eventually, your business will grow up to the point where you will need to find regional representatives for your customer support team for your startup. Hiring regional representatives is a must in case international expansion is on your company’s “to-do” list. It has a huge impact on your customer satisfaction rates. It might be necessary to cover different time zones and languages.

You’d also have to start staffing employees from those regions to keep up with the volume and maintain the communication tone that the specific group expects. 54% of companies these days tend to turn towards outsourcing for this occasion. However, make sure that you find out some crucial things about your future partner first: the size of the company, how they charge for their services, how their setup and training process looks like and so on. It would also be a great idea to talk to the company’s CEO – this way you will get the complete image of your partner.

Final thoughts on customer support for your startup

We live in a world where customer feedback is getting praised more and more each day. Clients’ expectations are growing rapidly and companies are trying to find new ways to meet them. Setting up your customer support in the right way is the first step to becoming a 100% client-oriented company.


Daria Leshchenko – CEO and partner at SupportYourApp, a turnkey customer support solutions provider for the latest companies in Tech; official Forbes Tech Council member, Harvard Kennedy School alumni, Ukraine’s Top 30 Under 30 award in 2017.