Entrepreneurs are vessels jammed with innovative ideas. Their determination to bring a concept to market can be astounding. When they storm the market with a well-designed product or service, sales skyrocket.
But the devil is in the details. To build a smoothly run business, turn your sites to efficient office management and outstanding customer experience. It’s easy to overlook these less glamorous facets of running a business, but don’t be so foolhardy.
Customer engagement is often excluded from the business operations thought processes. But customers will bump into companies operations every time they browse or buy. It’s one of the most critical components of the business. Bottom line, poor office management or lackluster customer engagement will sink even the most innovative ship.
Being a marketer by trade, I’ve adopted a customer-first mentality. Business owners tend to associate marketing with promotional activities, like email, mobile push, display ads, and direct mail. That is part of the job. But companies are beginning to recognize that customer interaction is a form of engagement, and it’s fundamental to a seamless business operation.
Order Confirmations are a perfect example of the overlap between marketing and service functions. After an online purchase, customers get a standard follow-up email. There was a time when Order Confirmations gave just order details. It’s now a broader communication vehicle, including the order details, product recommendations, return instructions, and promotional offers for the next purchase. For each section, various functional areas must work together to design, write, and deliver a cohesive, on-brand message.
A handful of startups uses service as their big differentiator. These companies weave their customer interactions throughout the business. Early-stage startups, such as Tuft and Needle and Shutterfly are worth pointing out for their superior customer-first mindset.
Adopting a customer-first philosophy from the start will open your mind as you review business resources that help deliver an authentic winning experience.
Customer Engagement Highlights
Everyone remembers examples of poor service, but we rarely recall positive ones. In recent years, enterprise companies have tapped Customer Experience Offices (CXO’s) to solidify a cohesive customer experience across touchpoints. Clearly, startup’s have limited funds to anoint a dedicated CXO. But there is a cornucopia of maneuvers SMB’s can use to map out interactions with consumers at every step.
First, excellent service starts with adopting a business-wide, customer-centric philosophy from the onset. A connected customer experience requires thinking through the buyer’s use of the product or service, along with the onboarding and ongoing process. A useful exercise is to put yourself in the shoes of your customers or what is known as customer empathy mapping. Then ask yourself these questions below.
- How simple is it to buy the product?
- How will a customer learn how to use the product or service?
- Is it easy to use?
- Will the product be able to grow as needs change or advance?
- If necessary, can they easily buy more of the product? (e.g. contract terms)
- How do I measure the success of the product or service?
To share an example, my company, Digitile spent a month developing our self-serve onboarding to guide users through getting started. We wanted to drive adoption and delight customers with a seamless experience. The fact that we don’t get a lot of questions during onboarding testifies to the program’s success. Since launching, we continue to get positive feedback about our customer’s getting-started experience. We’re also proud to say our customer attrition rate is well below industry average.
Learn more about customer empathy mapping here.
Office Management Highlights
To address blocking and tackling components of setting up a business, we’ve compiled a list of back office resources to get you started.
- Domains: Most .com names are already taken. Try .io or .co, which are becoming commonplace
- Domain Host: Network Solutions, GoDaddy
- Web Host: Amazon AWS, Linode, GoDaddy
- Email Accounts: Gmail offers personalized domain email address for $5/mth. Their setup process is easy for people with no technical skills
- Website: Wix and Squarespace offer inexpense services for novices
- Phone(s): Google Voice
- Conference Line: Free Conference Call
- Live Chat – LivePerson
- Video Calls: – Free Conference Call, Appear.In, Skype
- Messaging Apps – Slack
- Business Location/Address (Physical or Virtual): PostNet, now offers a virtual mailbox service for multiple locations. UPS stores offer inexpensive mailbox services with local addresses.
- Bookkeeping – Quickbooks
- Business Startup Contracts (Incorporation, Trademark, Copyright): Saper Law Offices
Apply for a business EIN number