According to the book “Leading on the Edge of Chaos” by Emmett C. Murphy and Mark A. Murphy, 68% of customers leave a business because of bad customer service.
That is an astonishing number when you consider that dissatisfaction with the product or service that the company provides accounts for only 14% percent.
This means that in 68% of cases, the customer leaves primarily because of his frustration with the customer service, even though the product or service might be satisfactory, or even exceptional.
What Does This Mean for Startups?
Since, as the same book suggests, acquiring new clients can cost as much as five times more than retaining current ones, having customer service that meets the highest standards is not only good practice, it’s basically what determines whether a startup can take off, or dwindle into yet another failure.
When a business is just starting to gain ground, being able to keep your current clients happy is what keeps the business afloat as it gains momentum.
Acquiring new clients is very expensive and therefore making current clients stay is what ultimately allows you to grow as a business.
How Can Startups Improve their Customer Service?
The process of establishing a top quality experience for all of your customers starts from the very top of your company.
However, the problem many startups face is that they simply don’t have the recourses to efficiently handle customer support on their own—it requires not only time, but also a deep understanding of the problems that can arise with a product or service, as well as quick solutions that can be easily applied by the customer.
In other words, simply putting someone on the phone isn’t even half the battle. If he isn’t prepared to help your clients solve their problems, this can be even worse than not having any customer service to begin with.
Luckily, there is a solution for startups that can help them focus on the day-to-day tasks of running their business, instead of having their time consumed by customer requests.
Here are things every startup company must understand and employ if they wish to maintain a high quality of customer service:
Get to Know Your Customers
The thing that separates the best companies from the rest is how well they know their customers. It allows them to create laser-targeted marketing campaigns, seamlessly adjust to changing market conditions and launch product after product with tremendous success.
But this kind of knowledge is equally valuable for improving your customer support. Just as anything else, it is a continuous process that requires you to do research, evaluate the new information and incorporate it into your customer support system.
The best way to find out what common problems your customers face when using your product or service is to simply keep an open line, and even ask them. This is especially important at the early stages, because that’s when you’re most prone to making mistakes, and vulnerable in terms of your reputation.
Leave It to the Pros
While you are busy answering calls from your client, you are basically stuck as a company, unable to develop strategies, manage your employees, come up with new ideas, try to improve your product or service and do thousands of other tasks that make up your daily work routine.
Therefore, at some point, you have to allow yourself to delegate the customer support process to someone who specializes in it. It’s not only a smart choice from your perspective, but it also benefits the customers.
Just as in any field, everyone has their area of expertise. And just as you are the expert in your business, there are those that know everything there is to know about how to create the perfect customer support system.
When you choose a professional virtual receptionist or answering service, you are taking a big leap towards improving the relationship with your customers. After you give them all the necessary info, they will do the rest in making sure that your customer support is professional, reliable and always available.
The receptionists answering the calls from your clients will have years of experience in communicating with clients, so they will know how to defuse tense situations, solve problems and make sure that every call ends with the client being happy.
This is, in the end, what helps keep customers in your favor, increasing trust in your company with every communication.
Don’t Hide Your Flaws
Every company has their weak spots. Especially when you’re small and just starting out. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Compared to the big conglomerates, your company has personality, is much more accessible and trustworthy. However, that initial trust can be instantly shattered if you try to hide the flaws of your product or service.
Your customers can understand that you’re not perfect, nobody is. But trying to deceive them, or denying that there is a problem when it clearly exists, can instantly make you the enemy and drive them straight to the competition.
If there is a problem, admit it, apologize, and then explore all the possible venues trying to find a solution. In the end, some flaws might even become irrelevant, if your product or service delivers on the promised results despite them.
Bad customer service is responsible for more than two thirds of customers leaving a business. That means that for any startup that wishes to continue its growth, customer support should be a top priority.
It comes down to:
- Figuring out the problems that your customers face and getting ahead of them;
- Putting professionals on the line, ready to help your customers solve their problems;
- Being honest with your customers about the flaws of your product and mistakes you make.
Making your customer support great is a continuous process, but it is definitely achievable even for a startup. And when you consider that acquiring new customers can cost as much a five times more than retaining old ones, doing everything to retain your current customers is the only viable strategy.