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6 Examples of Startups Doing Customer Service Right

6 Examples of Startups Doing Customer Service Right

The following are hypothetical examples, but they can and do happen within real world startups -- the ones whose customer service prowess suggests we’ll be hearing about them for a long time to come.

Startups are fortunate not to have the bureaucracy and old, outdated processes that tend to get in the way of providing great customer service in large organizations. On the flip side, that means it’s imperative startups offer an outstanding experience, from marketing to the point of purchase and long afterwards.

Sure, startups might say they don’t have the kind of budgets that large organizations have to staff a huge customer support team. They also arguably have to split more of their time across not only service but sales and marketing. The problem is that, as harsh as it sounds, customers don’t care — they have expectations on how they should be treated by the companies they do business with, especially when they’re having questions or challenges with those purchases.

Technology, of course, has leveled the playing field in this regard by making it easier to streamline or improve customer service based on the data a company collects, stores and manages. There are also some best practices and techniques you can put in place, however, that will help you stand out from the crowd and make a deep impression with your earliest customers.

The following are hypothetical examples, but they can and do happen within real world startups — the ones whose customer service prowess suggests we’ll be hearing about them for a long time to come:

1. The founder-on-the-frontlines

Even in startups, there can be hierarchies and hoops customers may feel they need to jump through before they can find someone to address their issues. That’s what makes it such a pleasant (and astonishing) surprise when the head of the company rolls up his or her sleeves and shows they want to be connected to what customers care about.

When other members of the team are too busy, for instance, the best entrepreneurs tend to be quick to jump on customer calls and resolve things personally to demonstrate their commitment to an outstanding experience. It doesn’t just have to be boss who does this, of course. Great startups — and even large companies, for that matter — tend to thrive when customer service is in some ways considered everyone’s job.

2. The unasked-for-escalation

It’s infuriating to be on a call with a customer support agent, or immersed in an email or text exchange, and realize that the person you’re dealing with doesn’t quite have the training to solve your problem. This reaches its peak when the exasperated customer finally has to ask, “Is there someone else you can transfer me to?”

Startups can take advantage of mobile technology to reach the best people right away, and, if they encounter a roadblock, can bring colleagues into the conversation before a customer ever gets impatient. When you take the lead on escalating an issue, it shows you care, and that you’re acting in the same way a customer would themselves.

3. The social-media-as-suggestion-box

Nothing beats a startup that manages to be proactive, rather than reactive, in the customer service they offer. The rise of channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram mean startups can get an unprecedented insight into conversations their customers are having that would never have surfaced in the past.

Smart startups take advantage of this by using social listening tools to monitor hashtags related to their company, their products or services, their industry or even common words associated with their customer’s needs. Then, rather than waiting for the customer to reach out for help, they extend an offer to help first.

4. The because-we-know-you recommendation

In the old days, companies would send out the exact same brochure or flyer to every single customer, whether they were a new customer or someone who had been buying with them for years. At a time when personalization has already swept the world of marketing, successful startups start looking at service a little differently, too.

As products age or need to be replaced, for instance, customer service teams can alert customers and make smart suggestions about what to buy next, along with complementary items based on what they know about a customer’s needs and preferences. This is when customer service becomes more like a concierge service, or a personal shopping advisor rather than merely a troubleshooter.

5. The tell-me-more method

A startup can end a service issue by asking if a customer needs anything else once their problem has been resolved, but fast-growing startups are always in learning mode. In other words, they look for any opportunities — including when customers call in with a complaint — to suss out other potential ways they could improve. They also make this process extremely easy, whether it’s taking comments by phone, texting feedback or even sharing through direct messaging on social media.

6. The highly-specific thank you

Sometimes customers feel like they only hear from a company when it wants to sell them something. Instead, there are startups that take the time and effort to send notes at the one-year anniversary of doing business with someone. This isn’t a generic note but includes their name, perhaps a look back on what they purchased and any other details about how the relationship has grown. This can be coupled with a sort of check-in to ensure they’re absolutely satisfied with their purchase, as well as an offer to share any recent educational content that could give them even more value for what they bought.

Of course, these ideas are only the beginning. One of the other unique aspects of working as a startup is that you’re part of a community of peers. Often startups gather with like-minded but non-competitive firms for meetups, hackathons and other networking events. Use these as opportunities to not only learn about things like sales growth or marketing hacks, but customer service strategies too.

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