How should a small startup handle customer service?

  • My first suggestion is that ensure your product is robust, so it doesn’t generate complaints or support mails.
  • Understand the Customer Journey and find out what can possibly go wrong.
  • Classify what can go wrong into following groups:
    • Life threatening to customers
    • Results in Customer being non-compliant
    • Renders the product unfit for use
    • Partial malfunction
    • Noticeable loss of performance
    • Minor performance loss (unnoticeable)
    • Minor nuisance
  • If there are too many items in first 4 categories, you better plan for 24×7 support
  • Build strong help and FAQ features through videos & text Q&A in your website.
  • In spite of all the above, you are bound to encounter a reasonably healthy rate of support requests :-(… That’s life.
  • I don’t know what kind of product or service you are into, if its time-sensitive or offers critical services, etc then 24X7 support is a good idea even if the volume is low. But if its not that sensitive and doesn’t impact your customer’s daily life in a big way, then even if your product/service is paid (& highly paid), customers will be ok with reasonable responsiveness.
  • So its nothing to do with your volumes, its to do with the criticality of your service.
  • My personal suggestion is that give an personalized email id (not support@…) but (Someone’sName@….). Give phone line and set up a good voice mail message.
  • Also clearly mention the expected response time for resolution.
  • Set up a filter in your email box to catch keywords like “URGENT”, “CRITICAL”, and route them to a separate folder.
  • Check that folder first thing in the morning as you get up 🙂

This has been working for 5 years for me! Good Luck

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