Keeping customers happy has always been my personal obsession ever since I moved into the services industry. I truly believe that even in this automated world that we are moving into, service quality and high standards in customer interaction will be success defining factors.
It is also certainly true that you can’t make everyone happy all the time. There will be always some unhappy customers no matter what you do. But, by keeping your focus on the customers, you can really help them, and by keeping a very close eye on what they think about what you offer, you can jump-start your journey on the road to success.
At Cloudways, we are steadily progressing on this road. Beginnings were a bit rough due to our lack of experience, but listening to our customers—and incrementally improving what we do and how we do it, we have moved from above 10% poorly rated tickets to less than 4% as of today.
I will share here the few points that have helped us get there.
You will not be able to do anything unless you know what is going on. (It does not only apply to customer satisfaction but it’s about everything related to your business). Metrics are the mission control center of your startup. Without them, you are lost and you will undoubtedly crash and burn.
Measure everything and for the sake of this post, measure customer satisfaction. With every ticket that we complete, we send an extremely short, yet non-intrusive survey with ONE outrageously simple question that takes ONE second to answer: “How well did the technical support representatives at Cloudways solve this ticket?”
Check customers’ feedback EVERY DAY. Rejoice and enlarge your ego with all enthusiastic comments but MORE IMPORTANTLY, answer ALL AND EVERY negative review. I repeat EVERY.
This is crucial. Customers are usually frustrated and have gone to the length of telling you why, instead of venting their anger in forums, social media or worse. They may be right or wrong, but just GET BACK TO THEM. And if you are a young startup, I would advise the management to do this exercise. DO NOT delegate it. There is no better way to understand what is going on with the progress of your “child” and which “extra classes” are required.
3. Incrementally Improve
If you have been running your startup for a while, you must have realized that there are tons of things to do, but unluckily just a very few are actually done. Based on the feedback you get, try to identify few key areas where, with small steps, you can solve a nuisance, issue, or problem that has been consistently reported by your customers.
Don’t let the snowball of problems roll over you. Be realistic, assess work capacity, and choose a few things to do that will make a difference and LET YOUR CUSTOMERS KNOW you have done it.
It is very important that your customers know that you LISTEN.
For everything they complained about, get back to them after fixing the issue. They will—I promise—appreciate it. You will move from a disgruntled startup to the most sought-after service provider in no time. (Again not possible with all customers, so act wisely!)
4. Set Expectations
A smart guy—who once led an HP support team for years—told me this a while ago: “Manage expectations or die.”
This can’t be truer. We started to get things right when we outlined—in a lot of detail—what and when things were expected to happen.
It was a game changer. It reduced support load as customers didn’t have to come to chat or create a ticket to ask when something would be completed. They knew it. It improved customer satisfaction a lot as we ALWAYS met the expectations that we set—and beat them many times.
Let me repeat that it is, of course, critical that you meet the expectations you set. So be realistic! Better still, leave some margin, so you can easily improve on them. This will REALLY make customers happy!
5. Build a Culture
As with many other things in your startup, you will start to excel when you don’t really need to explain, insist, control, or audit, but things and processes become aligned with the values you have built around your business.
Build a culture where (from top to bottom and from left to right) customer satisfaction is sacrosanct, a cornerstone of “who you are” and “how you do things”. This is again an incremental (and very slow) process. Something that you need to nurture on a daily basis with small gestures and tiny details. You can’t really buy it or outsource it. You just need to engrave it on your business DNA. 🙂
Hopefully, these easy-to-follow five-step journey will get more travelers (if possible, not competitors) on the path of success!
Pere Hospital (CISSP & OSCP) is the CTO and co-founder of Cloudways Ltd. He has over two decades of experience in IT Security, Risk Analysis and Virtualization Technologies. You can follow Pere on Twitter at @phospital and read his blog at www.perehospital.cat