On startups: How small teams can win through exceptional customer service

Todd Goldberg |

 

Let’s face it, getting new people to check out your product can be tough, especially in crowded markets. But once they do, providing an exceptional customer-centric experience is critical in creating the wow factor for your company. We’re not sure why, but people generally expect poor customer service when they interact with companies. Maybe it’s because they’ve been placed on hold for far too long or their questions often get redirected to a support ticket system which seems to take forever and comes back with a robot-like response. The first time you handle a customer’s question will define their impression of how you treat your customers and plays a large role in their overall perception of your company.

As a small startup, providing amazing great customer service is not only a way to turn existing users into evangelists, but is also a tool to win new business. When you’re small and scrappy, the line between sales and support can often be blurred; use this to your advantage. Being responsive, proactive, and even empathetic for your (potential) users can go a long way.

At Eventjoy, we do a lot of different things to create an amazing customer experience. We want to share some of the them to help others potentially discover new ways to provide their own delightful customer experience. While some of these methods may not be completely scalable, creating a culture of providing amazing service pays dividends in a variety of ways.

Don’t suck at email

Email is interesting because it can be tough to drive accountability. When you’re talking to a customer on the phone or through live chat you have to give answers fast, but with email you can easily hold out and answer it at your convenience. Put yourself in the mindset of your users. Do they really want to wait who knows how long to get a reply or will they just say forget it and give up on your product. Maybe they’ll come back or maybe they won’t, who knows? Showing you’re responsive in what is often a “slow” medium goes a long way to demonstrate to your users that you care about them.

Live chat is a game changer

Having live chat available is like using a Ferrari in a race full of a minivans. It provides an unfair advantage in customer service against those who don’t use it. Though like many other channels, it’s the execution that matters and simply having live chat on your site is not enough. You need to commit to actively using it and being responsive when users ask questions. We use live chat through Olark and it’s the best tool in our shed.

How we use it:

  • Pre-signup - We automatically prompt visitors two minutes after they arrive to see if they have any questions. A lot of people won’t respond, but for those that do, it’s a great way to start a conversation and shoot down any concerns they might have.
  • Helping to answer questions in the product  - Users can reach out to us any time. Often it’s just to ask about how to do something, but this is helpful in learning where users get stuck in the product.
  • To start a conversation and built rapport - We proactively reach out to organizers to see how they’re doing with creating and managing their event. This is great because it shows we have a genuine interest in their success and it’s fun to add a more human element to a software product.

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Pick up the phone

Do you remember the last time customer service actually called you? If we receive an email and the response requires something for the user to do that involves multiple steps, we’ll often call them rather than email back. We’re always surprised how happy they are to have a real person to talk to. Not to mention, they’re probably using the product when we call them. We’ll also just call if a live chat or email has a lot of back and fourth. Long story short, use the phone proactively instead of just for inbound support calls.

Listen in on social

When people talk about your product on social media, especially Twitter, it’s like free advertising. They could be talking about their experience, recommending it to others, or even asking for advice about it. These opportunities are slam dunks and they shouldn’t be ignored. Reach out and be helpful. When appropriate, even give a personal email for them to reach you at. We like to sometimes reach out from personal accounts, rather than the company one, to show there are real people who care behind the company.

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Use data

The data you have available shouldn’t just be used to measure revenue, users, and other performance indicators. Use it to identify issues users might be facing and then personally contact them when issues are spotted. We frequently look in real-time how users are navigating the product at that moment. If we see people getting stuck, we’ll proactively reach out to see if something is going on or if they need help. We also get real-time alerts when potential issues come up. We’ll see which users were affected and quickly contact them with a personal email. This helps us solve problems for our users, makes their experience better, and even gives us insight into issues with the product.

Monitor commentary

If your product has some sort of discussion functionality like a news feed or comments section, be sure to keep an eye on it to see what users are saying. All the events our organizers create come with a social feed on their event website, which is really just a private Disqus for that event. We’ll often monitor these to ensure comments are ok and to see if anyone ever mentions the product or their experience. Sometimes these valuable insights may stay localized in the feed and are never brought up through normal support channels. This is why it’s important to us to try to observe what people are saying about Eventjoy.

 

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Have fun and don’t be a robot

Lastly, engaging with your users should be fun. These people aren’t asking for support because they want to, it’s because they need something. They’re investing their time and energy so they can either start  or continue using your product. We love to make these conversations personable and fun. At times we’ll even use memes and animated GIFs to keep things interesting. We speak in a conversational manner to avoid sounding like a robot and are not afraid to take accountability for when we mess up, whether that’s for a bug or lack of a “must have” feature.

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Final thoughts

These are just some of the ways we like to interact with people who use Eventjoy. And of course, not everything listed here is scalable, but when you’re a small team trying to make a huge impact in your space, you need leverage. Providing amazing customer service is one way to gain that leverage. Customer service is something that means a great deal to us and we’d love to know how others provide great service to their customers. Feel free to post here or email us at feedback [AT] eventjoy [DOT] com.