How To Launch Your Startup With A Customer Service Culture
Most startups don’t have customer service as a priority when they launch.
Creating buzz in the market around their idea, searching for investors and filing any required patents occupy most of the founders’ time at the get-go.
Thinking about creating a customer service culture doesn’t command much attention, if any at all.
Wrapped around your relevant and compelling idea, building a sustaining enterprise from the beginning should include developing a culture that exists to serve your customers.
Here’s an approach to begin your service journey without overloading your resources and placing your other critical priorities in jeopardy.
Well before you are overwhelmed with drumming up interest for your launch, take a day and develop a service strategyfor your business.
This strategy is intended to not only emphasize the handful of service elements you intend to focus on (to give you a competitive advantage) but also to define the context for the culture you want.
Avoid aspirational declarations in your strategy. “We will exceed customer expectations” or “We intend to provide excellent customer service” are not particularly helpful in understanding precisely how you intend to service your customers differently than your competitors.
Use the service strategy as your recruitment template; to define the type of skills, experience and attitude in EVERY person you intend hire; not just service employees.
Everyone in the enterprise – from CEO to service clerk – must innately possess the service mentality. If you don’t hire with a serving criteria, a strong service culture will escape you.
Have everyone “talk the same talk” about service. For example I insisted we use “promises kept” as the phrase we used to describe meeting a commitment made to a customer. A promise is personal and was intended to engender personal accountability to the customer.
Take a moment to recognize “service heroes” regardless of whether you have 2 or 3 employees at the startup stage or more. The important thing is to build this recognition “system” early on so it becomes part of “the way you do things around here” – culture.
Bring customers in to have a conversation with the team. It’s extremely important to do this early and to communicate “we walk with customers”.
When it is necessary to establish rules and policies to govern how you intend to transact with customers, test your intentions WITH customers. You need to be “easy to do business with”and separate your startup from the herd. Customers will not only give you honest feedback they will be impressed that you asked for their input (because no other organization does).
Even before you have a single customer, decide on what needs to be measured (using your service strategy) and set up a simple system to measure how customers PERCEIVE the service they receive from you.
Be The ONLY startup with the foresight to begin crafting a service culture before you open your doors for business.
Roy Osing is a former President and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience covering all the major business functions including business strategy, marketing, sales, customer service and people development. He is a blogger, content marketer, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.
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