by James Ontra, CEO of Shufflrr
Startups typically lack the resources of larger organizations – cash, staff, and huge marketing budgets. Yet the good ones can compensate with a great product combined with great service. Customer support is one venue where start-ups can differentiate themselves from their larger competitors. To run a successful startup in the tech industry, you need to understand how critical tech support really is to the livelihood of your business, especially in the competitive landscape of this business.
So what does great tech support mean and how can you use it to acquire customers and generate new opportunities? Great tech support is about going above a customers’ needs, meaning you need to be agile and adapt to changes in your area of expertise.
You can do this by honing in the following areas:
1. Be available.
This may seem simple, but providing real human support builds confidence, trust and accountability with your clients. Whether that’s a person on the phone answering questions when someone calls or quickly responding to email and tweets, make it easy for your customers to get support.
When you’re available whether it’s because something broke or because they have a question, you will gain your clients’ trust and credibility. That one unscheduled moment will allow you to become a trusted resource for that client moving forward.
Keep in mind that in technology 99.9% success is 100% failure. Software doesn’t just break a little, one bug can shut down a company’s entire business. Take Amazon for example. If their “submit order” button doesn’t work at the end of a shopping session, then their whole process falls apart; the result is 100% failure to get the sale, but if the shopper can get the right support at that moment, then the sale is saved, and the customer is happy. You have to be available to build trust.
Let the user vent, and hear them. Once they feel you understand them and their issues, they will be more open to suggestions, which in technology usually means adapting to a new process, feature or upgrade. In addition, you will get invaluable feedback which direct future innovations.
Furthermore, you will get valuable feedback and knowledge into “why” your customers are using your technology and “how’ is important to their own processes and workflows. This feedback can serve as a direct line to future improvements in your products and services. It will make your technology better, which in turn will help your business grow.
Lastly, acknowledge the customers contribution. Thank them for their feedback and let them know that you will not only fix their issue in the short term, you will also incorporate their feedback into a future release. Give them a stake. People want to be heard and respected.
Lastly, it’s important to ask yourself, how can you make a person become an evangelist of your product? It starts with taking the time to publish, post, or blog every question or comment you get from your support channels. Nowadays, people will search for an answer to their question on the web long before they actively reach out to you. The more questions you can answer before the user calls, texts, tweets, emails, etc. the more pre-disposed they will be to your solution. Good information elevates your expertise and credibility. Ultimately, the client will view you as the expert in your field.
So, in this highly competitive tech world, customer service is critical to any successful startup. These three core customer service disciplines will help your company rise above your competition.
James Ontra is CEO of presentation management company Shufflrr. He is responsible for vision, strategy and technical development for Shufflrr and brings over 30 years of entrepreneurial expertise and 20 years of experience on both the sales and developmental sides of presentation management software.