Businesses need customers to become successful, no matter how great your product. How can you get closer to your customers to get this data?
By Timothy Kua
For a startup, there are many different ways to boost customer satisfaction and gain their (hopefully) everlasting loyalty.
However, there is one sure-fire strategy to become a customer-centric company, which is applicable across all industries: Know your customers well and tailor the experience to them. But how can you get closer to your customers to find out what they need?
Here are three steps on how you can gain a better understanding of your customers.
Collect customer insights
For startups that deal directly with consumers (for example, e-commerce businesses), you face a variety of customer types every day – from the one-time shopper to a vocal brand ambassador.
A customer database helps keep track of who is who, allowing you to identify which customers would benefit from additional attention. This database should capture relevant information on customers, such as date of last purchase, average spend, suggested service level, social influence and other customised fields that suit your business.
Once you have collected the relevant customer data, you can put in place the right workflows to optimise your customer support. For instance, if a regular, high-spending customer, who has several thousand followers on various social media platforms, requests information, you may wish to prioritise your service.
For B2B startup companies such as those providing enterprise software, you need to capture information on an organisation rather than an individual. Fields of information include account type: Prospective, active or previous customer, customer reference, monthly spend, suggested service level and contract agreement.
Like before, once you have gathered this information, you can initiate the appropriate workflow process suited to that organisation.
For instance, if an existing client refers another company, not only would you want your sales team to follow up with the prospective client promptly, but the team managing the existing client may also wish to provide some form of a thank you token, such as a discount.
Create meaningful views of your customers
With all this customer information, it can be difficult to manage customers effectively.
One simple way is to build customer lists which allow you to organise customers based on specific attributes. This can provide in-depth insights to your customers and allow you to take the appropriate action.
For instance, you can create a list to see which recent customers have signed up for the product – making them eligible for a certain promotion, or all the customers who have an upcoming subscription renewal so that you can send them payment reminders. Another good idea is to set automatic triggers that will alert you if a particular field is selected.
A good example would be an alert if any customer submits a negative rating, so that you can follow up with the individual to understand the problem and try and offer a solution, before any damaging comments are spread.
As customers go mobile, providing good support includes optimising their experience on mobile devices. If you have a high proportion of mobile customers, it may make sense to add in relevant user fields such as type of phone, type of tablet and iOS/Android version. You can organise these into lists, so that you can group customers who have the same preferences in mobile devices.
These lists will show you which devices your customers prefer, so you know what device you need to support.
Gather customer information at every support request
Nothing slows down the customer support process (and annoys the customer) more than having to go back and forth to the customer, gathering information.
You can expedite the entire process by gathering the right information relevant to the issue when the request for support is made.
This will give you better knowledge of the customers’ technology environment, which can help you understand the problem better and recommend an appropriate solution faster.
As you build your issue tracking system (also known as a ticketing process), you can create customised ticket fields that are relevant to your business, such as Product, Operating System and Platform.
At the end of the day, better customer service starts with better communication. By fully understanding your customer landscape and engaging with your customers for more meaningful conversations, you will be able to establish long-lasting relationships and build a better business.
The author Timothy Kua is the Director of Field Marketing for Zendesk, an enterprise SaaS company, where he oversees APAC marketing and demand-generation strategy.