When is the Right Time to Take Support Teams on Board for Your Start Up?
If you are running a startup business, then you may believe that you do not have the financial or organisational resources to hire support teams and bring them on board. However, you can greatly improve your business model with the selection of the right customer support model. You can add value to your service and provide your customers peace of mind they have a contact point.
Remember, support is not only about resolving problems and issues. It is about creating a mechanism which may help customers in putting their problems and needs across. Here are some key elements that will help you realise the right time for taking support teams on board:
The startup stage has a key parameter in defining whether to employ support teams or not. If you have a single-digit workforce, then you can probably deal with your customers on a personal level and there is no need to use a proprietary software tool to carry out support and resolution management.
However, as your company grows there is a subtle shift from a handful of staff working 10-15 hours a day to a growing business 15+ employees or depending on complexity 20+ customers.
Suddenly the number of customers will increase significantly and it will become apparent that the execution of a unified level of customer support through an informal system is much harder to regulate, monitor and evaluate its success.
Now your business is pushing forward focusing on product development, supplier management, customer fulfilment, sales, marketing, finance, HR, and a myriad of other priorities.
Implementing a strong customer support system might not be your top priority yet it should have equal weighting. Ensuring your business will have a mechanism for dealing with customer engagement, demands and problems, in a controlled and defined manner is essential. It is hard to drive forward constantly looking behind you but a slow puncture or leak in your gas tank will bring you to a stop.
Ease in Market Entry
Startups already find it hard to enter existing and potentially mature market segments and dealing with angry customers is just another issue that can destroy the efforts of a new business. Setting up a customer support system is excellent for ensuring that you will be able to quickly move ahead over the usual market hurdles.
The customers need to receive the best support through a formal method, even if you own a small business. In fact, taking support teams on board early on will allow your business to scale smoothly with the passage of time. You will already have an organised structure in place when you need to resolve consumer issues in increased quantity and connect with them on an integrated scale.
Value addition is a concept that you should strive to present to your customers. Offering free support or training is a way of giving your customers something the competition may not. How many consumers can honestly say that bad customer support made them want to stay with a supplier. Conversely, a customer with an enquiry that is handled with care, responsiveness and resolved can lead to positive feedback. How that customer felt after they connected to get resolution is a huge differentiator. In a world dominated by customer reviews, your customer is your greatest sales asset.
Value addition in the form of improved customer support and the ability to communicate with the customers ensures that you can improve loyalty, retention and find new opportunities to work with the existing customers.
The key challenge then is whether to manage this in-house or buy in the expertise.
How to Deliver
Hiring a support team improves the perception of your business and allows you to respond to your customers. Providing dispute resolution in an organised professional manner conceals your maturity or size, customers stay with you after satisfactory resolution and are appreciative to receive the best version of your services.
Finding the resources to manage this function and software to support the process is both critical and time-consuming. There are several areas that need to be addressed as part of this in-house process;
- Picking the right system – finding a fit that is cost effective for a startup and yet scalable to support your growth.
- Finding experienced customer support management – a leader that understands how to implement support processes can manage staff, may have technical skills all within a salary framework you can afford.
- Defining the support framework – there are various types of support; Help/Service Desk, Application Support, Product Support, Hosting/System Support and Monitoring Services.
- Continuous improvement – reviewing the effectiveness of your processes and team, setting metrics to monitor customer resolutions, evaluating through feedback and sharing results.
- Alternatively, there is the outsourcing model. For many startups, this immediately feels expensive and unachievable. The model though is similar in concept to any supplier engagement. Finding an organisation that understands your culture, aims, and priorities. A supplier that is affordable and can scale with your business whether this is simply more heads or increase hours (24×7). A strong communicator is essential so that both your customers and your management know what is happening and metrics are in place to see results. Benefits;
- Specialist in customer support with teams of experienced technical and non-technical staff
- Existing software infrastructure that simply needs connecting
- Scalability and responsiveness
- Targeted and committed as they want your business and want good reference models
Installing a support team in the form of a virtual help desk allows your business to prosper in the long run. This happens because your business further enhances the bond that you have with your early customers. The relationships can go on further when you have a systematic support structure that provides you a secure environment under all conditions.
Strong relationships also allow you to take care of emergency situations. When your customer can deliver their message at any time through a support channel, they remain calm and are able to understand the time that it takes to revise a product and present it once again, according to the needs of the customer.
Lower Cost of Maintenance
All relationships require maintenance and it is no different with your customers. Having proper support system allows you to create a set of practices where you maintain your relationships by replying in a systematic manner and bringing about results.
You can answer customer queries and come up with better solutions through effective communication. This structured communication process provides effective support to both external customers and internal teams. Lower cost is two-fold, finding the right support solution and retaining and building a happy customer base. This lowered cost means that you should hire them as soon as you can afford them in a sustained and well-organised manner.