Why putting customers first from day one is key to a start-up’s success

Customer focus as directon on a compass for a satisfaction concept (3D Rendering)

It is natural for start-ups to be laser-focused on honing their products to make them as alluring to customers as they can be, but research shows the sooner you start thinking about your customers and investing in a customer experience (CX) strategy, the better off you’ll be.

While there is no magic, guaranteed formula for business success, research suggests tangible benefits in providing better customer experiences. Zendesk’s Start-up CX Benchmark Report 2020 showed a clear link between better customer experiences (CX) and faster growth, yet less than a third of start-up founders had a customer support strategy in place.

The report, which surveyed more than 4400 start-ups globally, revealed that start-up success stories have one thing in common: the ability to provide more holistic support to customers from the beginning.

As we face a radically different future, here are three CX best practices every start-up can adopt to set themselves up for success:

  1. Add a support platform early
    Investing in the right tools to support customers from the outset is a business imperative for start-up founders. These tools include support via live channels like chat, messaging and self-service options. You may not need to be on every channel, especially when you’re first starting out, but early adoption of these CX tools will help deliver speed and convenience for both customers and your internal teams.One in three fast-growing start-ups invest in customer support systems within two years of starting their business, but according to the Benchmark report, it is recommended to do so within the first 18 months. It should be a platform that integrates well with other platforms and data sources, and allows you to easily scale, customise and add additional apps and functions as you grow.
  2. Roll out self-service within the first few months of adding your support solution
    Staying on top of rapidly changing customer behaviour and meeting increased customer demand can be challenging with limited resources. Consider platforms with built-in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation tools that enable customers to self-serve for resolution of low-complexity requests. Almost two-thirds (60 percent) of businesses have added content to their help centres since late February, empowering customers to find answers themselves or directing them to helpful resources via AI-powered chatbots.
  3. Direct more resources toward live channels
    Start-up founders can benefit from including messaging channels like WhatsApp to reach customers on the channels they use daily. As customers look for quick responses, support requests over messaging and chat platforms have surged, increasingly becoming the go-to over traditional channels like phone calls to resolve an issue. In August, customer requests via WhatsApp surged as high as 148 per cent globally since late February. When resources are lean, it is important for start-ups to look at customers’ changing expectations and behaviours and understand the importance of being on the right channels, as opposed to every channel.

Putting in place these CX best practices from day one would provide the much-needed runway for start-ups to thrive. With these steps combined, you can achieve shorter resolution time, deliver better team efficiency, and offer more options for your customers to find the support they are looking for. In doing so, you’re not only offering products and services your customers will love, but an experience that will keep them coming back again and again.

Steve Bray, Regional Vice President for Sales – Australia and New Zealand, Zendesk