Startups, Make Sure All Your Hires Develop This Skill
Why everyone in your company needs to have amazing customer service skills
Building companies from the ground up seems hard in the beginning. As you’re first starting it feels like you’re staring up at Mount Everest.
If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll come up with a workable idea. Workable ideas turn into a demand which turns into customers. More customers will eventually require you to grow your company.
There are many cogs responsible for the growth machine of a business. The one I want to focus on for this article is the staff — the people that you choose to hire. As someone who’s worked at several successful teams and companies in several different domains, I’ve always noticed a common trait that fast-growing and successful teams exhibit.
Great Customer Service
When I used to think of optimal employees, I used to think of someone who’s intelligent, creative, moves fast, and sacrifices personal time to make sure all deliveries are met. Granted these things are still good, I now realize that these are secondary traits. They are useless without the core belief that the intention of the business is to serve your customers and to do so at the highest level.
This applies to all levels and all departments of the company. From accounting and back-office operations to customer-facing employees. Having everyone focused on doing their job with the customer’s experience as the end goal will result in an awesome and unstoppable culture.
Always listen to your customers
It goes without saying that your customers are your company’s lifeblood, so listen to your customers. Customers aren’t always right, but they do come first. They’re also almost always right.
Take two employees. One is customer service oriented and the other one is not. They want to gather feedback about the product or service they provide. The customer gives negative feedback based on a lack of knowledge.
A customer service oriented employee will always try to extend the conversation. They ask the customer, have you tried this feature? Did you notice that we did this thing over here that would maybe solve the issue you had? How can we make things less confusing for you the next time around? The employee will take notes, be open-minded, and see this as a puzzle that can be solved.
The employee that is not customer service oriented will do things differently. Once they hear negative feedback, they’ll listen until the end of the feedback, possibly give a rebuttal or try to end the conversation right then and there, and internally acknowledge the customer as wrong. The employee might even make fun of, criticize, or insult the customer behind their backs. Bad employees who do this are more common than we assume.
When it comes time to launch new product features or new services that your business will provide, the employee that genuinely listened to customer feedback will always have better ideas.
Retention and referrals
If you listen to your customers and implement their feedback into finer tuned products and services, they’ll notice. When they notice, they’ll not only stick around, they’ll tell their friends too. A lot of people attribute great customer retention and low customer attrition to great products. Underneath all the great products is a desire to satisfy your customers.
Customer acquisition cost is also another metric that is thrown around a lot in the conversation of growing a business. In the era of ad marketplaces and somewhat easy financing, the quick and easy way to acquire customers has only gotten more and more expensive. This creates a dent in your budget for other parts of your business required to retain the customers obtained through expensive acquisition costs.
In comes the customer service superhero. If you want to avoid expensive customer acquisition, hire employees that are extremely customer service oriented. If they don’t come into your company that way, make sure you at least hire employees that are coach-able and then coach them to that level.
Winning business against bigger opponents
There’s a scene in The Office that sticks out in my mind, only because it’s a tried and true formula that I’ve seen work over and over again in reality. Jim and Dwight go out on traveling sales pitches. They’re at the office of a guy who’s rejecting doing business with them due to the fact that prices that bigger guys offer ‘makes more fiscal sense.’
Dwight picks up the phone and dials their customer service line and gets put on hold. Jim calls Dunder Mifflin’s line and Kelly answers right away. They win the deal afterwards.
Companies will choose to work with startups due to the fact that they know startups are there to prove themselves and put in extra effort when it comes to service. If you’re the leader of a company or your own team, it is up to you to see that this expectation is delivered.