Businesses begin and end with customers, so your pool of customer data should not be ignored.
Technology makes it easier to do business, with startups able to establish a lean and effective business model thanks to the volume of handy and affordable tools at their fingertips.
But as your business grows, employs staff, and establishes multiple departments, the number of technologies and level of functionality required increases in size and complexity.
This can leave many startups staring down the barrel of customer data with little time or knowledge of what to do you with it.
Here are some tips to help you make use of the data you’ve collected to level-up the insights you have into the people that matter most – your customers.
Step one: organise and categorise data
Once you’ve collected enough data, you need to find patterns and establish clear, actionable insights.
To help with this process, include a description box with structured custom fields on your ticket forms, to give your customers an easy way to self-tag their feedback (by product, for example).
Ask your team members who respond to tickets to brainstorm about helpful fields, since they will recognise patterns based on their experience. However, because customer issues change, be sure to keep those frontline employees on the lookout for any shifts as they happen.
Fortunately, setting up custom fields is a cinch, and their flexibility means they can be organised to gather specific information. Custom fields will help you sort feedback into easy-to-navigate buckets, which enables you to direct tickets to the right people based on their expertise or experience.
It also opens the door to sending customers to your knowledge centre, deflecting the ticket altogether. For example, you could set up a ‘password reset’ selection in a drop-down menu that, once selected, automatically generates instructions customers can use to resolve the issue on their own, negating the need for a ticket at all.
Step two: share feedback
As customer feedback is organised and comes into focus, you need to develop processes for sharing the data company-wide.
In the early days of startup mode, this might not be a huge problem, but as your business grows, you’re likely to encounter silos. Your customer service software should enable you to bring transparency across departments through shared access to tickets and reports. Another tactic to break down silos entails holding daily stand-up meetings where your team and discussing customer feedback and prioritise responses.
While it’s important to have a tool in place that can help you share feedback across teams, no software can replace human interaction. Consider appointing a liaison between your support and product (or finance, sales, etc.) teams to improve the flow of information.
The benefit of having software engineers and product managers shadow your agents on customer support tickets helps them develop better use cases and roadmaps that reflect your customers’ needs.
Step three: act on feedback
How many times have you seen a company put great effort into generating a report with actionable insights, only to see that information discarded or ignored? Don’t make the same mistake.
Whether scheduling more training time for agents, or having developers fix frustrating bugs that make your customers want to tear their hair out, your startup will earn loyalty by resolving the issues that matter to your customers.
As the leader of your business, make this process an integral part of your company culture. Set up a process for following up on feedback.
One way to drive customer engagement is to tag tickets for good customer service ratings, watch for trends, and then create an engagement strategy that pulls engaged users, or ‘advocates’, into research groups, beta tests and so on.
These advocates can serve as your product’s greatest ambassadors, providing priceless word-of-mouth buzz that will attract new customers.
Step four: close the loop with customers
So far, so good. You’re gathering customer feedback, sharing it across teams, and taking action based on what users have told you. But you’re not quite finished.
You must close the loop with those customers by telling them what you did or what you’re going to do. If your customers have taken the time to tell you about their experiences with your product, they will appreciate hearing back from you.
A great way to do this is to create an online community where your product managers can share new product features and explain why certain requests have been tabled or postponed for future releases. This can be an additional source of feedback and give customers a chance to weigh in on what your startup is working on and it can take a bit of heat off your support team.
While it’s difficult for fast growth businesses to slow down and take stock, investing in the latest technology only to drown in data and not use the software to its full potential can end up being a burden.
Make organising and acting on customer data a priority so your business demonstrates it is always listening and connected to its most important stakeholders.
The best customer experiences are built with Zendesk. Our customer service and engagement products are powerful and flexible, and scale to meet the needs of any business. Zendesk serves businesses across hundreds of industries, with more than 125,000 paid customer accounts offering service and support in over 30 languages. Zendesk is headquartered in San Francisco, and operates worldwide with 16 offices in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America.