Wow Your Early Startup Customers

As a startup, you are bound to be going against the established players in your market: businesses that have been around for much longer than you have, with a more mature product, and much more money. How do you gain an edge over them? Play to your strengths.

One of the advantages of being a software start-up — or really any software small business — is that processes are still simpler than at established software companies. This is a great advantage: you are nimble and can act much more quickly! One way to capitalise on that agility is customer feedback.

Feedback sessions with actual customers are invaluable to find out more about how your customers use the product, what issues they have encountered, and what features they are missing. While both start-ups and established companies usually have these feedback sessions, start-ups are in a unique position to capitalise on them by implementing some of the feedback immediately. This is a key advantage.

Established players have an enormous overhead to bring any change to their software. The process for any feature — big or small — to go live is significant, even for some trivial feature or bugfix. The following realities slow things down dramatically:

  • Stakeholder alignment — Many stakeholders need to be aligned and agree on a feature: product managers, business analysts, UX designers, developers, testers, etc.

All this overhead means they cannot sweat the small stuff. They cannot go “hey our most valued customer just pointed out we should move the Edit button here,” because even an hour of development blows out to multiple person-days endeavours. Everything is quite involved. This leaves them no other option than to focus on big-ticket items.As a startup on the other hand, you can wow your customers by implementing some of the feedback immediately.

Not all customer feedback should be implemented, though. Review the feedback carefully. There will be different things that come up:

  • Customer-specific features — You don’t want to implement those, as they don’t move your product forward in terms of what your ideal customer needs

After each customer feedback session, spend maybe ½ day to knock off some of the low-hanging fruit and bugs the customer has reported. Get them live, then send a follow-up email thanking them for their feedback and pointing out the items you have already resolved. It really makes an impact:

  • It shows how much you care about their input

Being a startup you are fighting an uphill battle against established players, but you also have advantages over them. Implementing customer feedback quickly is one of them. Capitalise on those strengths to reward your early customer base for being with you rather than your competitors. After all they took a big leap of faith going with you, and they deserve to be rewarded for that.

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CTO/ Co-founder at SalesGRID startup. Living the dream.

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