You’ve manifested a bright idea, gotten the right people, and created a roadmap to success. You’ve started a lean, mean team and are ready to take over the world.

You’ve also crafted a line of action to help you get from point A to point B. But, as many entrepreneurs have found out, that can very well be a wavy and sometimes jagged line.

Unfortunately, there’s no elevator to success, you’ll have to take the stairs (but that’s part of the fun, right?). While you may eventually get to point B, the path you use to get there may wind up radically different than the one you mapped out.

Founders can become so focused on building businesses, gaining market shares, raising capital and working with strategic partners that they may overlook a very crucial item of startup success.

They begin with the end in mind, but forget that the most important part is in the middle — customer service.

You’ve worked hard to create a product/service that people want or need, time and effort into client acquisition, but what happens when they become a client?

You want them to remain clients — and that’s where customer service comes in.

What are some things handled/managed by customer service?

  • Cranky customers
  • Client complaints
  • Addressing problems
  • Building relationships
  • Solidifying loyalty

Why is this important for a startup founder?

The best customer service builds trust
Since buyers can be fickle, they’ll only stay loyal to a company if they have a compelling reason to. If they don’t, there is plenty of competition available that they can choose to migrate to.

Because of this, you have to work even harder to keep customers who trust in your brand.

Providing the best customer service helps with boosting their trust and can provide you with the competitive edge of customer loyalty.

Customer retention costs less than client acquisition
On average, it costs almost five times more to attract a new customer to your business than it costs to retain a customer. Satisfied customers stay loyal buyers when they can trust a business.

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Research shows there is a 60 to 70 per cent likelihood that existing customers will return to make new purchases.
 It’s costly enough to find and acquire new customers, so a business should focus on ensuring that clients are happy so that they would continue to do business with them.

Remember that getting repeat buyers is much easier than getting initial buyers.

Positive chatter builds brand awareness
Loyal customers provide positive recommendations and online reviews that help businesses strengthen their brand. In fact, a loyal customer can be up to ten times more valuable than their first purchase because of their positive word of mouth.

Research from the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report shows that people often make purchasing decisions based on recommendations from family and friends, rather than on direct marketing.

According to Help Scout:

  • 97 per cent of customers will tell others about very good or excellent customer service experiences.
  • After having a positive experience with a company, 77 per cent of customers would recommend it to a friend.
  • 24 per cent will return to businesses two or more years after a good customer service experience.
  • 33 per cent of Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service.

Word of mouth is possibly the most powerful asset you have. What your customers say to others could make or break your business.

When you provide the best in customer service, guess what happens? People will talk about you. They will remember your brand.

And they will buy. Again and again.

However, the opposite is also true. The reason? Bad news travels very fast. Think trending on social media. Think viral.

Warren Buffett once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

It improves employee turnover
Consistency is key. You don’t want to have to keep training people because they keep leaving.

And why would they leave? When the company’s goal is to make a quick buck, and employees are taught to cut corners and be dismissive of customers, why would they think you will treat them any different?

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Lack of trust equates lack of loyalty — whether it’s clients or employees.

Employees want to work for businesses that appreciate their contributions, encourage new ideas and treat customers fairly. When they see their employer treating customers like gold, it builds a sense of pride in their team effort and makes them more willing to stay with the company.

Customer service reduces the chance of business failure
Close to 96 per cent of American businesses close their doors within 10 years. A contributing factor is poor customer service.

When buyers become frustrated over issues that are not addressed, unclear communication, slow follow up on questions, or ignored requests, they will make a beeline to the competition.

Customer service can truly make or break a business, and that should be on every founder’s reminders list.

Want to be truly disruptive? When quality, client-centric customer service is a cornerstone of a startup’s business plan, it gives the founder confidence to focus on all other aspects of business growth and success.

And you can take that to the bank.

Image Credits: lightwise

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