This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post my colleague, Jack Plantin, writes about the importance of customer support and options we can offer for around the clock support. He shares some excellent self-help ideas. – Shep Hyken 24/7 customer support is great to have, but it can expensive and time-consuming for small […]
This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post my colleague, Jack Plantin, writes about the importance of customer support and options we can offer for around the clock support. He shares some excellent self-help ideas. – Shep Hyken
24/7 customer support is great to have, but it can expensive and time-consuming for small companies. Here are a couple ways to make your customers happy, while being lean on resources.
If you are a founder of a small software startup, you know how difficult it is to budget in extra money for customer support help. With all of the cash tied into product development and marketing, it’s hard to provide the standard of customer support that you want.
While some founders think it’s 100% necessary to provide customer support at all hours of the day… I’m here to tell you that there are other ways to make your customers happy, while sticking to your normal 9-5 schedule.
Set Clear Expectations Early On
This is true for small or large organizations, but it’s critical for small ones.
Many small companies I’ve worked for put statements on their contact forms that say “expect a 24-hour response time” and longer on the weekends. This works well to keep multiple emails from coming in too often.
When you set these kind of expectations for customer support, it’s even more crucial to keep your word and get back to them within the promised window. If you don’t keep up your end of the deal, you’re inviting waves of hate email.
If you say 24 hours, you’d better reply within 24 hours!
Replying sooner makes customers happy… replying and answering their issue completely within that window makes them ecstatic and a real advocate for your company. Strive to hit the latter as often as you can, with the fallback being the first one.
As a small company, you’re actually put at an unusual advantage of having lower customer expectations for support.
Think about the last time you’ve contacted a small company’s customer support. You hope deep down in your heart for a super speedy response, but realistically you know you could be waiting for days.
Counter and exceed these low expectations by being super responsive and keeping your promises.
Create Self Help Resources ASAP
This one is great because it requires very little manpower.
Like I’ve mentioned above:
Most customers don’t expect immediate help, but they do appreciate being able to find the answers to their own questions.
This is exactly why you should setup some form of self-help resources on your website as soon as possible. Below are 3 examples of great self-help resources that we’ve seen many companies (small and big) use.
A company that does video tutorials very well is MacPhun Software. MacPhun offers photo-editing software that may be a little confusing to use for the novice photographer.
With the help of extensive video tutorials, MacPhun has been able to provide users with step-by-step tutorials on how to use their product without the need for coaching over the phone.
A couple companies that are known for their extensive database of FAQ articles are companies like WordPress and HostGator. Of course massive companies like this have more than enough manpower to create their own databases.
For small software companies, many help desk softwares like Zendesk or Groove allow you to do this very easily on your own.
As we’ve seen with many of our clients, creating an FAQ early on can help cut down customer support emails and calls drastically.
Community forums are a great resource for collecting common customer issues, cataloging them, and updating your FAQ database.
By assigning one of your employees to moderate your community forums, you can have a goldmine of new questions to add to your FAQ and another platform to provide help.
Spotify has done a great job of establishing a place where all users can ask questions or voice their concerns.
For smaller companies, there are some great WordPress plugins and software’s for creating online communities on your website like vBulletin, bbPress (by WordPress), and Vanilla Forums.
Sometimes It’s Not That Easy
Setting clear expectations and creating self-help resources is something every company needs to do, not just small software companies
For certain products that are crucial to business function like web-hosting software, e-commerce, POS software, etc. it’s necessary to have some form of 24/7 support to make sure your customers can have the help they need in case of emergencies.
In this case there are some affordable options to providing support on all time zones such as:
Hiring customer support employees with the sole task of taking care of support during off-hours is a perfectly feasible way to have immediate responses 24/7.
Hiring virtual assistants is a great and affordable way to provide support on all time zones.
Hiring a firm that specializes in customer support is also a good option to provide 24/7 support without the stress of management.
Good luck everybody on your customer support journey!
Jack is a Minnesota native currently leading content marketing and customer acquisition at SupportYourApp in Kyiv, Ukraine. He writes about everything from customer support to startup growth on the SupportYourApp Blog. SupportYourApp provides outsourced customer support solutions for Apple, Windows, and IoT software startups. Learn more by reaching out here.
For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.
Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article: Customer Service Lessons To Learn From The Banking Industry
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