In the old days, customer support was something most companies sucked at. But times changed and so has customer support.
In this blogpost, I’ll show you numerous steps for providing the best customer support available. Bring your customer support to the next level, and your business too.
Why you have to provide the best customer support
As people we are tired of help centers and confusing contact forms. But if you look at many company websites you’ll find exactly these contact forms.
Well, we think that amazing customer support is a must those days. Our website visitors, users and customers are the most important influencers and advocates out there.
By giving them the greatest possible attention, we need to build long-term relationships. In these startup-driven times, where we build products people love using, we have the obligation to provide the best customer service.
Here’s how you get started.
1. Create customer care responsibilities in your team
As a small company or startup, you probably deal with all kind of different things when starting your business. Building your product, reaching product/market fit, hiring team members, doing marketing and getting your first customers on board.
However, it absolutely makes sense to establish customer care responsibilities right at the beginning. Why? There are a couple of reasons why customer care is a true growth hack for your business:
- If you are building a new product (which isn’t just a copy cat) you’ll have to do a lot of educational work. Whether it’s getting to the bottom of the problem you try to solve or increasing the reach for the niche you are located in.
- Customer support means asking for feedback: If you build a new product, you probably want to conduct different market tests and ask potential customers about your product. Beta-invites, user tests or any other area of communication. This is the first time you’ll get in touch with your target audience. Be prepared for that.
- One-to-one communication: if you’re planning a strategy for your product launch, you put a lot of thoughts into your marketing activities and which channels you should handle. From creating a facebook & twitter page to establishing a product landing page, to spreading your story on Product Hunt, Reddit or Hacker News. In every field of your marketing activity, you’ll definitely deal with questions which need to be answered by customer care.
2. Get started with customer care by setting up support emails
Being successful with building up your first customer base, you’ll be swamped.
Because you’ve got a certain amount of emails from your customers asking for help, sending all sort of product ideas & improvements or just feeling the need of getting in touch with you. And that’s perfect! It means that you’ve struck a chord and people start engaging with you and your product.
However, you’ll be answering emails for hours a day and the inbox never drains down. Reaching this point of business, I’d like to recommend setting up a customer care process for handling support tickets and -requests.
Think about the following use cases and set up email templates for…
- “We’ve got your email” replies
- feature requests you’re working on
- feature requests you are not working on
- troubles with the product itself
- product limitations / restrictions
- account deletion requests
- getting general feedback from your users
- providing productivity tips to your users
- saying “thank you”
Of course, every email should be optimized for each user request. However, these templates will save you a ton of time when writing customer support emails.
As a further resource I can truly recommend this awesome post from Help Scout about handling your support tickets (Spoiler alert: the post contains some awesome email templates).
3. Set up your onboarding process and optimize it!
Improving your customer support also means getting out there & communicating with your users. Since we always try to improve our product as well as our onboarding process, we recently adopted our lead nurturing, which resulted in a much closer relationship with our users.
Here’s what helped us (and may also be helpful for your customer support):
- Building email funnels for your lead nurturing strategy
- Segmenting your users according to their activity:
- Help users with no or hardly any activity to get on board.
- Help active users to become even more productive by providing them productivity hacks and tips.
- Directly ask users how you can help them.
We tried to offer different touch points for our users (whether it is via email, phone calls or social media). We want to be at the place where our customers feel most comfortable at.
Here are some Usersnap examples taking from our recent improvements:
- Offering help right after signing up for our service:
- Providing further helpful information for getting started with the product (currently sent 5 days after sign up):
- Directly ask users why they are not using the tool (for which they registered in the first place):
Do not waste time formulating your sentences how they may sound best. Write your emails as you always do. Be yourself and be nice. Your users will notice that.
4. Use your documentation
When it comes to amazing customer support, a great documentation is inevitable. Not just because users will find all available information to your product in one place, but also it will help you in a variety of areas.
Not only from a customer perspective, but also from an internal view. Using your documentation to onboard new employees on the support team, and also company-wide, helps them to learn your product and get deeper into it.
A well-structured documentation will always be the first place for your customer support team to have a look at.
5. 24/7 support – just a nice-to-have?
OK, you’ve launched a new product on the market and started growing your business. 24/7 support won’t be one of the first things to bear in mind while growing.
On the other hand the perceived customer experience will definitely be one of the most important growth factors.
The importance of fast responses to support tickets is not only something that many large corporations use to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Also startups and SaaS companies build their organizational culture and company vision around providing amazing customer support.
Quoting a post from Buffer, their vision “is to build a super-useful social media management tool with amazing support for everyone we come into contact with.”
However when starting out, you won’t be able to offer 24/7 support, except you have the money or the capability because of being a distributed team. But the good news is: You don’t have to. Here’s what you can do instead of offering a 24/7 support:
- Tell your users how they can get in contact with you (whether via email, phone, social media)
- And let them know about your business hours
- Send out auto-reply messages while being away helps too (but be honest and keep to promised response times)
- Provide a go to resource for all your users and make it as easy as possible to access it
If your customer care team isn’t available 24/7, the documentation will be the first place to go. And it will be a great inbound marketing channel for new prospects too.
6. Don’t scale customer care
When talking with startups and small business nowadays, growth seems to be the one and only goal.
Aiming for fast growth often means scaling your business. And since customer support takes an important part in your business you’ll probably wonder how to scale your customer care. Admittedly an extensive documentation is the first step in scaling your customer care. However I’d like to recommend scaling your customer care to a minimum.
And here’s why. It’s pretty simple.
Not scaling your customer care, means asking your customers to email, tweet, or talk with you instead of looking up certain information in your help center or manuals.
Getting in touch with your customer means getting to know your target audience better than your competitors probably do. These insights will provide you with a lot of useful information for further product developments and your product vision in general. Getting to know the real demand and pain first hand will not only save you a lot of market research costs, but also will bring you on top of your user’s mind.
Tools for getting started with amazing customer support
Well, I’ve shown you six relatively easy steps for getting started with great customer support. Since there are quite amazing tools out there for getting even more out of your customer care, I’d like you to take a look at the following tools:
- Inbox from Zendesk (quite a new project from Zendesk for managing team emails)
Take a test drive with these tools and decide which customer support tool works best for your business.
Getting started with customer support isn’t that painless, since it requires a lot of in-depth information about your product itself and about your user’s life as well. Don’t forget that you’ll never be the center of your customer’s world, however you can be a backdrop to the story of your user’s life. We, as companies, are able to learn from them, learn more about them and provide them with an experience embedded to his/her life setting.
What’s your experience on getting started with customer care? Let me know in the comments!