Launching and scaling a startup is no mean feat. From validating your idea of getting your first customers and investors, there are many things you need to do before you can finally say you’ve arrived. As the business world limps back to normalcy after an unprecedented global lockdown, the paradigm of build-test-scale has distinctly changed.

Entrepreneurs in many industries – e-commerce included – are busy re-evaluating their priorities as customer churn is on the rise. Instead of dropping prices, the conversation at many startups is veering towards customer experience as a way to create greater value. According to Salesforce, 80% of customers say that the experience is just as important as the product they buy. Conventional wisdom says that customer service is the job of the customer service team.

However, the new business dynamic requires a ‘whole-of-company’ or ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach to customer experience. Why? A standard experience across the various customer touchpoints is vital for building customer trust and credibility for start-ups.

That said, creating a customer focussed culture that evolves with changing customer needs requires a well-thought-out strategy. You are likely to see results if you stick to a few tried and tested principles that have been proven effective by some of the most customer-centric businesses in the world.

Here is an overview of the top 5 strategies you can use to turn your start-up into a successful customer focused company:

Build a customer-centric team culture:

Customer service is often seen as a team that takes the blame for problems. As the first point of contact for customers, they are perceived as responsible for fixing things that are broken. Other departments like marketing, sales, and product design think they have “their own jobs” to do, creating silos that hobble collaboration and innovation. Impress upon your team that customers do not make distinctions between departments and that they should not either.

Integrate customer-centricity into your business KPIs to drive home the critical importance of teamwork in driving a great experience. Don’t forget to train employees on how to meet those goals!

Be proactive rather than reactive:

Getting regular customer feedback should be a top priority for startups. It can help them know what customers think about their product and where they may be going wrong. Without feedback, startup companies may be lured into thinking that customers are satisfied with their service when, in fact, they are not. This is a widespread problem, with 89% of brands believing they are doing the right thing. Here’s the kicker: 48% of their customers felt that their issues were not resolved effectively.

These facts emerged from a study carried out by Econsultancy, leading marketing research and analysis platform. It is a misconception that customers have to be coaxed to give feedback. Experts suggest that brands segment their customers and then approach them through their preferred mode of communication to improve their surveys’ response rate.

Secondly, social media listening can be a great way to pick up the latest chatter about your product without having to send frequent surveys. Your startup can also use in-app surveys or message boards to identify and resolve customer issues proactively.

Get clear on what the customer wants:

Gathering feedback is only the first step in creating a customer-focused startup. A thorough analysis must follow it to find the biggest problems that customers are faced with. Map the feedback data to the customer segments you are currently targeting and rank it according to the relative order of importance- from critical to general. Don’t forget to categorize it by type.

For example, if a customer complains about poor quality product descriptions, you can tag it as a product problem. Next, add specific sub-categories that describe the problem in greater detail. For example, insufficient technical/size specifications, missing color details, etc. This can help your in-house teams become aware of the impact of these issues from all possible angles.

Let customers know why their feedback matters:

Survey requests can sometimes turn into a nuisance for customers, especially if they are not timed well. Fatigue can set in, and customers may put it off for later and completely forget about them. To get buy-in from them, let them know through a newsletter, online chatbot, or in-app notifications why it is important that they respond. “Help us to serve you better” is a great way to create buy-in.

Adding a case-study or two to your website every few months is a great way to show them the “real” progress you have made. For example, fewer tickets raised, better first call resolution, etc. This will only encourage more customers to share feedback, driving social media conversations, and online reviews.

Adapt to the market dynamics of the new normal:

The coronavirus crisis has disrupted the business strategies of companies worldwide and startups are no exception. While e-commerce is one of the few sectors to emerge stronger from the pandemic, you need to be quick to spot new opportunities and capitalize on them. Customers may not value the same things that they once did. This is why you must be willing to adapt to change as it relates to your product, pricing, or even marketing.

You do not need to look beyond your own customers to know how you can add value to them. For example, while offering discounts on your entire product range may not be a sustainable strategy, in the long run, you may be able to bundle some of your existing products into ‘value packages’ and earn the appreciation of your customers.

Last words:

Running a lean, customer-centric startup requires you to make strategic decisions about what processes to keep in-house and what to outsource. From the business continuity point of view, outsourcing customer support can add a redundancy layer and minimize customer impact. Helplama is an experienced customer support solutions provider with the technology, talent, and insights your startup needs to thrive in an uncertain market environment. We are cost-effective and easy to work with. Contact us today for more information!