Eight simple ways start-ups can improve customer service in 2014

A new year offers us a fresh start, so to kick off 2014 the right way, I’ve shared some ways to make your customers grin with delight. While some start-ups already have some or all of these well covered, now is the time of year to revisit these points and promise to provide even better service to your customers in the year ahead.


Zendesk has pulled together a list of customer service resolutions to help you do this:


1. Treat your customers like you want to be treated


This is a mantra that our parents and teachers repeat to us from a young age, and it is just as relevant in the business world as it is in the schoolyard. The best way to exceptional customer service is to imagine the service you would want to receive, and then provide that to your customers. Simple, really.


2. Channel patience in the face of adversity


Breathe. Think of Buddha. Count to 10, slowly. Imagine yourself on a tropical island. Whatever helps you channel calm and patience in difficult situations should be applied at all times. Remember that every problem – no matter how challenging – has a solution and that patience is the fastest (and most pleasant) path to uncovering that solution for your customer.


3. Ensure there’s a smiley face (a real one) and a bit of personality during every customer conversation


We all know that customers can tell if we’re smiling over the phone; they can hear that small difference in our voice. That generally applies to all written forms of customer communication, too. Adding a touch of your own personality helps your customers feel that they are being treated as an individual, by an individual. Good customer service is more than just resolving an enquiry as quickly as possible; it’s leaving the customer with a positive feeling after every interaction.


4. Connect with colleagues from other departments


This is something we do at Zendesk and I highly recommend it to anyone. Even if there’s only a handful of people working in your start-up, it is always valuable to understand what each colleague and department does in order to better understand the company and they way it works. It may not seem like it at the time, but this knowledge and the relationships you build with colleagues can be invaluable in the future for providing the best resolution for your customers.


5. Make each tough conversation better than the last


Tough conversations are just that – tough. But the more tough conversations you have, the better you get at handling and resolving them. Take each as a learning experience and apply this knowledge to the next. This will not only make tough conversations easier and more pleasant for the customer, but also for you.


6. Do whatever you can do to reduce response times


Our research shows that speed is often the deciding factor between a good and a bad customer service experience. There are several ways you can reduce your response time. Offering self-service capabilities lets your customers find the answers they seek on their own and in their own time. You can also apply macros which allow you to answer support requests with a single, standard response. Integrating all your channels – social media, phone and email – can also greatly improve your ability to respond quickly.


7. Respond to social media tickets with the speed of lightning


While we’re on the subject of different channels, let’s resolve to address social media this year.


Customers expect to be able to connect with you on the medium they prefer and in many cases that is through the increasing use of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media tools. Using one system to handle every customer query, no matter the channel through which it came, ensures that responses are consistent, easier to track and sharable.


Embracing social media as a means to connect with your customers can also be hugely beneficial in building your reputation and influencing potential new customers. A great interaction or service experience will often be shared by the customer quickly and positively through their chosen medium.


8. Be transparent and improve relationships with your team


A happy team means happy customers. An informed and educated team means informed and educated customers. There’s definitely a trend forming here.


Customer support can often be a difficult task, so no matter how large or small your team is be sure that 2014 is the year to improve relationships with those people. Transparency, openness and approachability are some of the most important management qualities to building and maintaining excellent relationships with a team. I tend to find that sharing a few beers on a Friday doesn’t hurt, either!


Michael Folmer Hansen is vice president and Asia Pacific managing director at proven cloud-based customer service software provider, Zendesk. www.zendesk.com 


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