Startups these days do not just face the challenge of putting up with the industry big guns. In order to thrive and hopefully, at some point, make an exit, they also have to quietly build an acceptable consumer base in a world of ever-changing needs and demands.
People who belong to this “new” breed of startup customers are extremely difficult to please – they’re raised on the internet, they want instant gratification, and they want total satisfaction without moving a muscle.
So how can small businesses overcome this hurdle? Below are a few points to ponder.
1. The customer is always right. And always waiting for a quick reply.
Say, you have a fledging online store for baby products or a language app for professionals. Such businesses heavily rely on customer-facing processes so there needs to be an efficient way to connect to them in an instant. Recent Forrester data revealed that 45% of US online adults will abandon their purchase if they can’t find a fast answer to their question.
This holds true especially for startups since people expect you to answer right away whether on social media or chat. Due to pre-conceived notions that small businesses are, well, – small – and should therefore not take too long to connect (because fewer customers means fewer queries to entertain), startups always tend to get the shorter end of the stick when it comes to customer service. Sometimes, it even becomes an issue of entitlement on the part of the clients: “You have to prove yourself worthy of the money we’re paying! You must give in to our requests, now!”
At the end of the day, all a business needs to understand is that clients value time above anything else. It’s been repeatedly mentioned that customer service doesn’t have to be perfect, because no business, no matter if it’s big or small, can perfect it. It just has to be quick and no frills.
2. A streamlined arsenal can make a world of difference.
Another key to satisfying the new customer is to use tools or platforms with options for integration. For instance, if you opted for an internet-based business communications system, make sure that it will allow you to easily connect your phones with other business tools you use every day such as your CRM, your ERP, your project management suite, and the like.
If you find yourself not knowing where to look when a customer calls to inquire about an item on your inventory or when a fellow developer tags you in a conversation about a bug in your app as reported by a user, there’s probably a disconnect between you and your stack of tools.
Customer success, by default, requires team effort. You might have developers, sales people, and support units in your daily operations. You might have just one person handling multiple tasks such as sales, marketing, and HR. Ensure that the tools you have will help create a holistic workflow that stretches across your organization. There’s just no place for siloed tasks and processes especially for startups these days.
3. Data is sexy. Don’t throw it out!
Measuring how satisfied your customers are with the products or services that you deliver can help improve your business processes as a whole. Each data set from your audience is a goldmine of information that can provide you with actionable insight. The simplest customer survey can lead you to great feedback that can instantly tell you what you’re doing right, what went wrong with a transaction or what needs to be improved.
However, most customers avoid these feedback forms because, again, they take time. No one wants to fill out a page with 50 questions, so a quick and relevant survey with a few questions could generate more responses than a longer one. If you need to expound on a client’s answer, that’s the best time to reach out to them individually (if your resources or logistics would permit it) to find out more about their expectations.
Satisfying the new breed of customers can be hard particularly for a starting company, but armed with a customer-centric mindset, the best toolset, and an effective feedback channel, you can gain a strong foothold in whatever niche you are in.
Klaris Chua is a digital content marketer who has written many pieces on startups and small business communications. She used to be a reporter for a business newspaper but the conventional path of a writer didn’t appeal to her. You can connect with her on Twitter.