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Zendesk, a specialist in software for better customer relations, is opening an office in Amsterdam this month. The company with Danish origins made the move to San Francisco 8 years ago, seeking investments to enable further growth. That strategy worked. With now 107,000 customers worldwide, of which 4,000 originating from the Benelux, Zendesk has snowballed. Among other things, they achieved this by getting their customer service right directly from day one. Here is their view as a startup turned global scaleup on how to get your startup’s customer service right from the get-go.
1. Customer service is the best way to listen to your customers
Every interaction with customers is a golden opportunity for your company. Therefore it is worthwhile to set up a robust system. Customer service goes far beyond solving problems or answering questions. It’s also a way to gather feedback. If you can collect and analyze feedback in a structured way, you can even better respond to your client’s needs. You might also learn stuff about your product or service that doesn’t work well. It then provides valuable information which you can benefit from directly. An excellent example of this is online supermarket Picnic. In some places, you can now also give your library books to the deliverer: a smart new service in response to customer feedback.
2. Customer service is not about always saying ‘yes’ to the customer
You must also know when to say ‘no’. It’s one of the hardest components in providing good customer service. Everyone has an idea or an opinion on how to improve your product or service. However, it is impossible to act on all those ideas. Here it helps to be clear. One way to accomplish this is to use a form on your site where people can share their ideas. Here, you thank people for their input and explain immediately what the roadmap for your product looks like and what features will surely not be included. You’ll see customers can handle ‘no’. Customers only get mad when you ignore them completely after sharing their thoughts.
3. Exceptional customer service encourages word of mouth
People regularly share positive experiences with friends and on social networks. By offering exceptional customer service, customers are more likely to talk about your company and products. The Amsterdam optician brand Ace & Tate knows very well that word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing. The company leverages this to surprise customers with service. For example, if customers order their sunglasses just before their holiday when it is too late to deliver them at home in time, the sunglasses are sometimes handed over to the customer at the airport or sent to the customer at their holiday destination.
One of the most important areas where companies can distinguish themselves from their competitors is to be nicer, more human and more responsive. E-mail can be used if you have only one customer, but if you get more than five e-mails a week, it’s time to set up a system. You’ll soon lose track of the communication thread with your customers. And then you’re on a slippery slope. Because what do people like sharing as well: their bad experiences with customer service.
4. With a professional helpdesk solution, you gain confidence
A startup does not have to pretend to be a big company. However, it is vital to get professional as quickly as possible. A professional corporate identity, a website, and a true helpdesk solution (instead of your Gmail account) are all things that show (potential) customers you’re a trusted party.
5. It’s easier to set up customer service at the start
It’s easier to adequately set up your support and scale up as you grow than to set it up at a later stage. At the beginning of your business, take the time to set up a proper workflow for questions – such as when and how customer queries should be handled and by whom – to create a knowledge base and collect customer feedback. It will prevent you from being stuck with a massive project later on. The last thing you want to do is having to transfer hundreds of customer questions and replies that are in your e-mail to a system and start building a knowledge base from there.
Starting with an excellent customer service solution isn’t complicated and does not have to involve an enormous implementation process. Most systems are easy and straightforward. It allows you to get started quickly and gives to the freedom to focus on your most important goal: grow your business.