My 5 Rules for Startup Interactions with Customers & Leads
As startups grow, so do the numbers of customers, and the number of team members having interactions between employees and the public. This is fantastic! It is no longer just your business development person on the front lines, you now have many sets of ears available to listen to your base. Understanding the customer’s needs is paramount to the development of a sustainable brand. It also humanizes why the product you are building truly matters.
To derive the most value from each one of those customer interactions, it’s important to set strong expectations for communication between everyone in your office who might be emailing/IMing with any user or potential user. This applies equally to sales as it does to support as it does to managers, and will help you keep your message consistent and your standards high. All of these points are common sense, and from what I’ve seen in my personal experience, they will all be easy for every person in your company to enact, if you take a little extra time to explain and assist.
- Keep the tone VERY conversational and go to great lengths to make the emails look like a personal note rather than an impersonal business correspondence. I start my messages with the less formal “Hey”. I don’t use “Hi”, “Hello”, or “Dear”. The idea here is to make it look like you just banged out the message for them and it hasn’t been through an editing process.
- Be grateful, empathetic and cheerful. We love these people, even when their emotions are running high, they are teaching us and helping us grow. Consider their needs, put yourself in their shoes, actively listen even when the conversation repeats itself, and always be cheerful when you interact.
- Read 2x in, 2x out. Read it twice when it comes in, try your hardest to understand. Make sensible assumptions and verify them with others if you have to. Read your response twice on the way out before you send. Make sure they’ll understand you. That you explained things well, but kept it simple, short, and direct. It’s our job to understand and be understood, not theirs.
- Watch for typos and grammar. Check for your/you’re, they’re/their/there and its/it’s usages. Get them right; it makes us look smart, sharp and professional. When we get it wrong we look rushed and the clock strikes amateur hour. If this is a place you or your employees have a weakness, consider employing a grammar checking app or browser extension like Grammarly as a safety net.
- Anticipate the next step. After reading your message, what’s the next thing they would need help with? What’s the next step in your process? Can you help with that now to save emails? Try to clear the runway for your users and leads so they can get further at each step. Not only does this help you in streamlining your process and saving extra work down the road, it also helps in exceeding customer expectations. Not only are you answering a question or correcting a problem, you are also offering support to that customer personally.
Keep these points in mind and you’ll do great. You won’t regret it. Any other tips/ideas you have from previous jobs? Tweet @stonage, I would love to hear them.