Releasing a product or service into the market is considered the penultimate milestone for startups. However, it is merely the first of multiple checkpoints along the startup growth journey. Once products reach the hands of users or customers, startups will find that customers require technical support and feedback resolution. Failure to do so will lead to customers abandoning the product. At this stage, providing customer service becomes an imperative and determinant for a startup’s perseveration.

On the matter of customer experience, the Zendesk Startups CX Benchmark Report 2020 points out that startups surpassing performance benchmarks are those that have invested promptly and heavily in customer service. The research, based on the analysis of the timing, tools, and results of customer metrics among 4,414 startups, found that fast growers have doubled customer support agent numbers within 18 months or less between publicly disclosed funding rounds.

Also read: Future-proof your startup and Fast Forward with Hewlett Packard Enterprise

However, less than a third of startups have plotted a customer strategy, which is a disservice to future growth. Meanwhile, startups who have nimby deployed resources, tools, and communication channels to build a seamless customer experience since the early days are already reaping the rewards of fast growth.

The correlation between solid customer experience and fast growth is undeniable. Constant engagement with customers enables startups to collect feedback critical for product improvement. Moreover, establishing a solid relationship with customers is a sure way to win their trust and loyalty.

Time is of the essence

With time being a determining factor, startups looking to achieve fast-growth status preferably set up customer support within 10 months of funding, then cascading that into adding messaging within 14 months and live channels within 17 months. Once established, help centres should have the capacity to process 30 articles within six months as startups expand the number of apps within that time period. The longer, two-year goal is to decrease first response time (FRTs) between 3 to 8 hours.

Other benchmarks involve efficacy, a lesson gleaned from fast-growing startups. In two years, the response teams of fast-growing startups have cut the initial wait time of 14 hours by half when resolving tickets and responding to customer questions. To further optimise customer service, these fast-growing startups escalate the efficiency of their response teams, whereby the volume of tickets per agent is on average 42% higher for fast-growing startups compared to others.

Achieving the above calls for startups to build the necessary groundwork. Fast-growing startups adopt customisations and setting protocols, in the form of APIs, apps, and automation tools, to collect higher volumes of customer data via ticket forms, prioritisation of incoming requests, and goal-setting. Additionally, this group of startups utilise additional public apps that give agents fast and easy access to data.

Also read: Future-proofing Singaporean SMEs for a stronger digital future

This customer-focused approach pays big dividends, as evident among leading startups. Michael Wystrach, CEO and Co-Founder of Freshly, a meal-delivery service startup, shares that “CX has been a top priority for Freshly from day one. As soon as we shipped our first meal, we knew the questions, comments, and concerns from our customers would immediately follow. How we dealt with those touchpoints would define our reputation as a customer-first brand.”

Similarly, Rich Waldron, CEO and co-founder of Tray.io, a general automation platform pioneer, notes that “We’ve seen startups, as well as successful firms such as Outreach and Tucows, grow quickly by using automated workflows to close internal process gaps across their tech stack. The key to startup growth isn’t just automating time-consuming manual work, but also scaling out processes across the entire organisation to convert more leads, win more deals, respond more quickly to customer requests, and do more, faster.”

Fast-growing startups such as Freshly and Tray.io do not only focus on deploying customer service rapidly, they also carefully consider what customer service channels they should employ. Omnichannel and live channels are the primary options among fast-growing startups. The Zendesk report shows that within the first two years, one out of four fast-growing startups implemented omnichannel and 20% appended live chat.

Superior omnichannel and live channel options

Omnichannel involves arranging a wide option of touchpoints – phone, email, chat, SMS, social messaging – to connect with customers. Combined with a robust backend integration, the omnichannel affords startups with a consistent support experience because agents are uniformly informed about accounts and issues, enabling these agents to respond to customers speedily and accurately.

Live communication features such as chat and phone support, all part of the self-service approach, yield good results as well. Chat support, alongside omnichannel, have been proven to decrease wait times and enhance agent efficiency, enabling fast-moving startups to double resolution times by their second year. Taking further cues from market leaders, unicorns have been 61% faster in picking up self-service features compared to non-unicorns.

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Plus, fast-growing startups layer their omnichannel and live channel features with other tools that boost effectiveness. Fast-growing startups amp up email support by choosing solutions that allow customisation, are highly extensible, and integrate smoothly with other platforms and data sources. They are also equipping agents with the tools, from apps and integrations that streamline workflow to macros that send consistent responses, to ease work. Also, fast-growing startups deploy solutions to divert low-complexity customer requests towards self-service and live channels, therefore easing the load of agents while quickly tackling customer needs.

Dig deep to learn more

Overall, startups need to build up a customer service experience that corresponds with long-term business objectives, rolling out new features in a timely manner while consistently emphasising on service speed and efficiency.

If you’re interested in learning more key insights on the startup ecosystem, you can access the comprehensive CX Startups Benchmark Report 2020 here.

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This article is produced by the e27 team, sponsored by 
Zendesk

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