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Customer Service Scaling Stage One: Finding Where Customer Happiness Lives

customer service scaling timeline phase oneThis is part of our ongoing series on Scaling Customer Service, based on our Customer Service Scaling Timeline. This month we're covering Stage One.

Welcome to the very initial phase of a company’s life. It’s a deceptively simple-looking stage for customer service: few tools, and just one founder focused part-time on customer service. Easy, right? Not at all.

This is because customer service in this phase is less about solving customer issues. Instead, customer service during this phase will be answering the question: what will make customers happy? You're not trying to make them happy with an existing product – you’re trying to figure out what potential product will make them happy. And you’re often doing this with a very limited set of beta testers or initial customers.

toolsConversations Are Key

In order to accomplish this, your most powerful tool is going to be conversations. Whether via email, phone, or in person, this phase is all about asking people questions. You’re not going to have enough testers or a complete-enough product to simply look at usage – you need to ask. We recommend taking people out for a beer. People like free beer.

Are tools beyond email and telephone a bad thing at this point? No – but they can often get in the way of what you’re doing. If you have a lot of beta testers, tools may be necessary. But if you’re still working with a 15-person beta group, you shouldn’t be setting up tools, you should be talking.

staffScaling When You're Just One Person

At this point the big scaling challenge for you is going to be time. With only a part-time focus on customer conversations, the learnings here must be communicated concisely. There’s no time for individual feature requests or a full transcript of a conversation. Instead, you need to tell stories.

bear in a riverThink back to the stories we all hear as kids. These stories don’t simply list out the lessons we’re expected to learn. Goldilocks and the Three Bears isn’t a one pager with this executive summary:

  • The middle thing is just right
  • Don’t take stuff from others
  • Bears will eat you if you make them angry

Goldilocks is a story because children don’t have any reason to care about bullet points. But once you help them understand and relate with the characters in the story, the lessons suddenly stick like glue. While we’d like to think we’re far more advanced than children, we all still love a story. Introduce your team/co-founder to who a customer is and what their feelings are, and they’ll absorb the necessary lessons.


Feeling ready to start understanding your customers' needs? Stick with us this month as we bring you case studies and further tips about Stage One of the Customer Service Scaling Timeline.


Bear photo courtesy of Blackburn Photo.

  • http://about.me/sueannereed Sue Anne Reed

    Congratulations and good luck!

  • http://ericsuesz.com supereric

    Congrats on the new gig!

    E

  • http://about.me/themaria themaria

    Congrats! UserVoice is one of my favorite SF companies, and I truly think they have an awesome product and team. Excited that there’s a community manager now in the mix :)

  • http://www.seoconsult.co.uk Jack

    Congrats Community Manager.
    All the best for your bright future.!!!

  • rlperera

    Hi Evan, welcome to UserVoice! I’m not sure whether you’re the right person to ask this question to, but perhaps you could pass it on if you’re not. I’m a *user* (not the creator) of a UserVoice forum (logos.uservoice.com), and I noticed within the past few days that the ability to page through all the suggestions in the forum seems to have mysteriously disappeared. All it shows when I go to the main page of it now are the Top 20 suggestions, with no navigation buttons at the bottom to get to more of the suggestions. There used to be 5 or 6 pages worth of suggestions (20 per page). I know the rest of them are still there somewhere, because you can still click on the New tab and see the most recently added ones, and you can still Search through all of the existing suggestions. But there’s no longer any way to simply browse through all the suggestions anymore. What happened? I have also reported this to the Logos folks, but this seems to be not limited to just the Logos forum, as I tried a random other active one that I found via Google, and that one seems to have the same problem. So it seems maybe it’s a bug in UserVoice that crept in recently, or maybe it was an intentional design decision. If that’s the case, I don’t like it. Bring back the navigation buttons. Please convey that to your team. Thanks!

    • Evan_Hamilton

      Hey rlperera,

      Thanks much for the welcome, and for pointing out this bug! We’ve filed a ticket and will be looking into this shortly. I’ll be sure to comment here once it’s fixed.

      Rock on,

      -Evan Hamilton
      Community Manager
      evan at uservoice dot com

    • Evan_Hamilton

      Aaaaaand it should be fixed! Let me know if it’s not.

  • rlperera

    Thank you for the fast turnaround! :-)

  • http://www.newbagonsale.com/ Louis

    Congratulations and good luck!