Customers are great. If you don’t think so, you’ll never succeed. Surprisingly, a lot of people consider their customers to be “the enemy” or a nuisance they’re forced to deal with.
Just remember that customers:
- pay the bills
- provide good feedback
- find bugs you’ll never find on your own
- use your product in new ways (which can result in new opportunities)
- recommend your product/service to others
- serve as references
Without customers you don’t have a business. It’s as simple as that.
And the key to everything I’ve listed above is having happy customers. Unhappy customers do none of the above. In fact, they do quite the opposite. And that’s bad. (I’m trying to be plain spoken and clear about this!)
The simplest way to have happy customers is through customer support. Of course building a product they want to use is a necessity – but you don’t even have to get that right out of the gate if you’re providing killer customer support.
Customer support isn’t complicated but it is demanding and time consuming. It requires fast response times, courteous replies and decisive action. Luckily for you, very few companies (especially startups!) provide anything remotely resembling quality customer support and so you can immediately use it as a differentiator.
And that’s really the key — leveraging great customer support into a differentiator.
This is especially true for startups. You might not think a startup has the time and wherewithal to focus on customer support, but it’s an absolute necessity. Invariably your product will be rough around the edges, bugs will emerge and there will be a shortage of features. On top of that, you’re the new kid on the block, so customers may look at you with a bit of concern (especially in a B2B market.) “How long will they last?” “Can they really provide the level of product quality and service we need?” To assuage those concerns, and balance against the shortcomings of an early product, use great customer support.
Doing so will increase the likelihood of good things happening (see the list above if you need a reminder.) Customer support can be a strong differentiator if you maintain it at exceptional levels, because you can be sure others won’t bother. They don’t recognize the value. And they’re losing business because of it.