Welcome to September and Stage Two of the Customer Service Scaling Timeline. Welcome to customer service at a startup, post-launch.
At this stage is that you’re trying to gain traction. That means capturing hearts, not minds. Even if you are funded, there’s no way you can build every feature. Instead, you need to make sure you’re building a tool that, while imperfect, is genuinely helping people and getting them excited.
The hardest part of accomplishing this is prioritizing. With any luck you’ll have very passionate, vociferous customers telling you what they want. Choosing between their requests can be heartbreaking when you want to make everyone happy. That’s why a feedback voting system (like UserVoice, though we have plenty of competitors you can check out) is key – you need to find out what people care the most about.
The added benefit is that you can keep people engaged and bring them back to your product as you build features they’ve requested. It’s one thing to find a great product – it’s another thing entirely to find out two months later that they’ve built something you asked for. That builds serious loyalty.
Sounds like a lot of work… so why is there only part of an employee working on Phase Two? Because usually at this stage in a startup, there is budget for very few employees, and they wear many hats. The person doing your customer service at this point may be a community manager, support employee, sales guy, office manager, or maybe still a founder.
Having a part-timer who isn’t necessarily trained in customer service isn’t bad…it can actually be good! You’re prioritizing and trying to help people use a very young product. It’s not rocket science, but it requires a lot of endurance and positivity (“Yes, we’re still working on that bug…”). What you need during this exciting, stressful, and thrifty phase is someone with boundless enthusiasm for making customers happy. These people show up in surprising places.
Of course, launches are very different, so keep in mind that you need to implement what’s right for your startup. This month we’ll talk to startups who launched to huge applause and those who gradually built up their customer base. As always, take this as a starting place and change anything that doesn’t feel right for your business.
Stick with us this month as we examine how to make this transition and make a product that sparks love.
Hat photo courtesy of Ntenny.