We Got a New Customer!
The five words you are most excited to hear, especially as a startup. Sometimes the most exciting time in the life of a startup is when you get that first paying customer. This is a validation of your dreams and hard work: someone is willing to exchange money for your product. Well, now that you've got some customers, how do you keep them? Because there are also five words that can make your stomach churn, particularly as a startup: we just lost a customer. You've worked so hard to get the product out the door and get someone to actually pay for it, so here are 3 reasons to focus on customer service from the very beginning.
Reason 1: Customer Retention
Your first customers should feel that purchasing your product was one of the best decisions they ever made. You should do whatever you can to find ways to delight them and reinforce that notice. Do not worry that what you're doing will not scale. You want to make those first customers so happy that not only do they stick with your product, but they tell all their friends about it. Those first customers are the key to validating the value of your product in the market. Do whatever you can to make them stick!
Reason 2: Perception Is Reality
Getting a “fully baked” product out the door is a great accomplishment – but it rarely happens. Attentive customer service at the very beginning assures customers you are serious about your product even if there are a few hiccups or bumps in the beginning. According to Paul Greenberg, author of CRM at the Speed of Light: “when the ordinary failures, the impact is greater on the experience than when the extraordinary fails, because there is no expectation of possible failure of the ordinary.” How you attend to customer service inquiries at the very beginning can mean the difference between being thought of as a “rapidly evolving with product with an attentive team,” or simply “half-baked.”
Reason 3: Market Research
For established companies, customer service can provide a rich and diverse range of insights, from basic functionality and use cases, to product road map and competitive differentiation. However, for startups it's much simpler. It comes down to two basic considerations: 1) if most of your issues are related to new feature requests then you need to consider your Minimum Viable Product (MVP); or 2) if most of your issues are related to things not working, well … you better fix the product! Your customers are telling you what they need in your product, so listen.
It's never to early to start thinking about customer service in your startup. Especially if you're the founder or CEO. Showing those first customers how much you care about their success can make all the difference in gaining – and keeping – traction for your business.
We love startups (being one ourselves) and we've made a commitment to helping startups deliver exceptional customer service. We will be offering Collision startups one year of software and along with that, some advice.