embrace technology


How startups can embrace analytics for better customer service

7:47AM | Monday, 7 July

Analytics is the tool that the business world is talking about, with organisations using data to gain a much deeper insight into the wants and needs of their customers.   While you may think that analytics is only a tool for big businesses with vast tracts of data available to them and teams of people to make sense of it, you’d be wrong. The larger end of town may have jumped on analytics early, but as the costs and amount of technology required to turn analytics into meaningful information have shrunk, so too have the barriers to harnessing their power.   This is great news for startups, as analytics can play a critical role in delivering efficient customer support and, ultimately, satisfying your customers.   Our most recent Zendesk Benchmark report found that, on average, organisations actively using analytics in their support operations not only had greater customer satisfaction ratings, but recorded a 12% faster first-response time to customer inquiries and could completely resolve inquiries 16% faster.   So with a small team and the limited resources that every startup has, where do you start?   Keep track of your help desk   Keeping track of how your help desk is performing is the best place to start. By keeping a close eye on your team’s current performance, you can start making adjustments to better serve your customers and provide quality service.   For example, a slow response time might highlight a staffing issue and help quantify the need for additional support personnel.   Analytics can help you know what’s happening by taking every interaction that occurs between your company and your customers, and turning it into data that can be used to measure and improve customer experiences. It can give you greater context and allow you to drill down into specific segments of customers.   Ultimately, analytics helps drive smart decisions. Startups can raise the profile of customer support by knowing where to focus. Support teams can use information from other business units to ensure that customers’ input are included in new products or services.   What to measure   Companies that measure performance provide better service. To begin analytics for customer service, you must first collect and report on data that is available to you; data about your customers and the way your startup works.   For customer service these metrics typically include customer satisfaction, agent and team performance, ticket deflection and ticket lifecycle. It is sensible to measure factors that contribute to customer satisfaction, such as first reply time (how long it took an agent to respond to the end user), full resolution time (how long it took for the ticket to be solved), and percentage of one-touch resolution (the percentage of tickets resolved with a single interaction).   Embrace technology   With all the roles a startup owner has, we certainly don’t expect to add data scientist to your job description, too. The rapid technological evolution over the past couple of years has provided a real opportunity for startups that want to use their own data to help them operate more smartly and efficiently.   Cloud-based technology exists that can capture your data, record it and make it simple for organisations to understand customer interactions and support team demands. Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud platforms make it easier and more efficient to gather data, but it’s hard to make sense of that alone.   Look toward your customer service software and determine whether you have access to important customer service metrics within the product, without the need for additional tools, fees, or vendors. The best customer service software should provide advanced analytics and visualisation tools that provide comprehensive metrics, reports and dashboards.   Make changes, but keep monitoring   Those companies that use analytics are making informed decisions when it comes to customer service. Based on your metrics, it’s easier to make informed changes, but it’s just as important to monitor those changes.   Routinely monitor your data and look at what customer service and customer satisfaction improvements have been made based on your decisions. Great customer service is a constant improvement process, particularly as your company and customer base grows.   Data with a face   At the end of the day, great customer service comes down to people, context, and personality. Data can only tell us so much without anecdotes. Satisfying customers is ultimately about understanding them, their situations, and their problems. Allow your customer service to reflect your startup’s passion, compassion, and sometimes even humility.   Analytics has the power to transform customer support and customer engagement data into measurable intelligence that can help startups make more informed decisions and provide better customer service. And it’s easier than you think.   Startups aren’t afraid to dive in head first, so don’t treat analytics any differently; it can help you provide exceptional customer service, keep your customers coming back and help you grow your business.   Michael Folmer Hansen is vice president and Asia Pacific managing director at cloud-based customer service software provider, Zendesk. www.zendesk.com

Adelaide co-working space offers Holden workers career support

12:00AM | Wednesday, 18 December

Adelaide entrepreneurial community and co-working space Majoran Distillery is offering Holden workers support for them to explore new potential careers as the car maker prepares to stop production in 2017.   Managing director Michael Reid told StartupSmart the start-up community was a great place for people to network, embrace technology, re-skill and prepare for the next stage of their lives and careers.   “If the Holden workers want to come, we’ll definitely offer them a discount,” Reid says. “We want to encourage people to come and plan and create their future.”   Majoran Distillery will be offering a 12-week entrepreneurial masterclass program for aspiring entrepreneurs who need to hone their skills around developing and launching tech-based products and services to global markets.   Reid adds most computer coders are self-taught, so anyone with the motivation to tap into the emerging economic boom of tech start-ups can switch careers with the right support.   “Everyone’s got an idea for an app stashed away, so just come and try it. We’re a low risk space to come and give yourself a few months to start learning and exploring. If you’re motivated, there is nothing stopping from you from a completely new career,” Reid says.   Reid says his team has seen a steady trickle of ex-car manufacturing talent for a couple of years.   Majoran Distillery member Saman Attarian used to work for a car parts manufacturer that supplied components to Renault and Peugeot. After the company of 770 people scaled down to 400, Attarian decided to explore start-ups as his next step.   “Initially I was very unsure of the future, but my survival mechanism quickly kicked in and I had to ensure I had the right skills for the marketplace,” says Attarian, who is now at start-up LimeSquare. “Now I know it was the best thing that could have happened to me.”   Earlier this month, Majoran Distillery hosted the Startup Adelaide award. Ex-Holden engineer Jo Shanahan took out the award for Best Pivot for her start-up Animal Therapeutics Online.   Reid adds Adelaide needs to explore new economies and technologies to excel in.   “The closing of Holden will have a massive impact on Adelaide,” Reid says, adding that the shelving of BHP Billiton’s expansion plans for its Olympic Dam mine meant the city needs to do something to boost its economy.   “I’m an advocate for tech start-ups. It would be great if the government could get excited about tech start-ups, which are just going to keep growing.”

How asking ‘why?’ drives us

9:19AM | Friday, 27 September

Before we start any journey, there must be a motivation. A motivation to achieve a result. The result could be as simple as driving to a destination. It is possible that people can start a journey unconsciously, but at some point in the journey they will become conscious of achieving a desired outcome.   Starting a business is just like any other journey. Like any journey, the people that focus right from the beginning are the ones who will actually make it to the destination and will get there fast.   So how do we obtain focus on the journey?   There is a simple one-word answer to this, and the answer is ‘why’.   ‘Why’ is my favourite word in the English language. It disturbs us, it provides clarity, it focuses us and offers motivation.   So why do people go into business in the first place? What drives people to go into business for themselves? Based on interviewing hundreds of business owners over the years as an adviser, it is the dream. The dream of a better life. But what does a better life mean? Often business owners will question this during the journey, posing questions like: is the dream attainable? Will it actually provide a better life?   People will start businesses with the following objectives:   Financial security and independence Satisfying a creative entrepreneurial flair Work-life Balance Pursuit of excellence Control over destiny Creation of a legacy   Naturally we ask and answer questions before we embark on any task. The trick is to ask yourself the right questions. So before you start the journey, sit down and have a think about these four steps and the questions posed. The more we can predict the future, the greater chance we have for success.   Step one: The why   Develop your personal and business why. The why to help you keep the momentum in hard times. Have your why close to you at all times to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. Step two: The law of economics   A fundamental law of economics is demand versus supply. Is there a market for the product or service I want to sell not only today but in the future? The past is not always an accurate predictor of the future, so ensure that what you sell will be relevant or adapted for the future markets. Will it survive and/or embrace technology and globalisation?   Step three: Does the business idea have scale?   The size of a business may be limited to the size of the market, the type of product/service that is offered or the ability or the desire of the business owner. The trick is to understanding the possible barriers to the size as early as possible to prevent possible frustration. As there are many possible barriers, prediction of the largest one may be the key to assess the size of the business. Business size can be a determining factor in whether the result is a sufficient return on the investment of time and money.   Step four: Mindset, do you have what it takes?   Starting and running a business is not for the faint-hearted. It takes courage and effort to build a business and realise the dream. Most business owners will fight the stress and pressure demons at some point in their business career. As it is hard to predict when, make sure that you have strategies in place to overcome the stress and pressure that small business throws up to ensure that you remain positively realistic.

Early eCommerce adopters see results while others stumble: Report

8:08PM | Wednesday, 1 August

New research commissioned by PayPal shows business growth increased by an average of 5% in the last year for those who sell online, while those who don’t sell online saw business decline.

March’s top business book

3:32AM | Friday, 16 March

The Big Book of Small Business by Andrew Griffiths (Allen & Unwin, 2011, 368pp, RRP$35)   I first picked up an Andrew Griffiths book five years ago in tropical north Queensland. It was the only business book in the Port Douglas bookshop.