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

Four top tips for great customer service in the age of social media: Why response time matters most

12:38AM | Thursday, 12 December

Regardless of whether you’re the whole company or if you have hundreds of staff manning a call centre, how quickly you respond to a request or complaint is the most important factor in customer service, according to customer service system start-up Zendesk.   Asia-Pacific general manager Michael Hansen and chief technology officer Morten Primdahl were recently in Australia, and they shared their top four tips for customer service excellence with StartupSmart.   Realise customer service is more manageable and more important because of social media   Hansen says social media has completely changed the customer service game, and start-ups need to recognise this and create their strategies accordingly.   “We see a trend at the moment where the voice of the customer is getting louder and you need to earn the customers trust continually. Before you were able to force people to contact you when and how you want to be, but that’s not true anymore,” Hansen says. “Good and bad experiences can be massively amplified on social media in minutes.”   Get back to enquiries as quickly as possible   Primdahl says the most important metric in any customer service strategy is how quickly you respond to the first contact.   “Customers and consumers want to be heard. You need to understand that, and respond as quickly as possible,” Primdahl says.   He adds if you’re a small team or growing rapidly and fielding a lot of enquiries, a quick response explaining that you’ve received their message and will get back to them by a certain point is enough.   “The core of good customer service is a timely response. Give someone a bad experience and they’ll go nuts and tell everyone. Surprise people with a quick and comprehensive response and they’ll tell everyone,” Primdahl says.   Listen to your customers and create content to pre-empt common enquiries   Hansen says once you begin to create a customer service system, start-ups should start working out ways to use the feedback they’re getting to streamline that process.   “If you’re listening to what you keep getting asked, you’ve got everything you need to build a help centre with the answers you keep giving so they don’t need to wait on you,” Hansen says, adding video works really well for businesses with online products.   Be honest, informal and ask for feedback   Hansen says start-ups don’t need to pretend to be bigger or more formal than they are.   “Being honest and transparent is the best strategy. Being informal is key to this. If you’re building a start-up, you’re still a human and your customers want to help you succeed. So if you can engage them well, and listen to them they can help you shape the nature of the company,” Hansen says.   Hansen says the biggest lesson most start-ups discover when they start asking their customers for feedback is they can probably charge more.   “Your customers will usually pay more than you think they will. So there is nothing better than speaking to your customers about what they want,” Hansen says.

How to hire the right people for your start-up

10:39AM | Monday, 14 October

We all know about the ‘war for talent’ and the importance of getting the right people to join your team, but in a start-up it can make all the difference between whether you succeed or fail.   Particularly in the early days, the days are long, the budgets are tight and the chances are if you’re lucky enough to be drawing a salary, it will be small, as profits are put back into the business. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over half of businesses fail within three years in Australia, so it’s important you hire the right people to give your business the best possible chance.   I set up the Zendesk Melbourne office in 2011 with two people that I had hired over the phone: a salesperson and a customer support person. Since that time we’ve grown to 30 people in Australia and 45 across the Asia-Pacific region. Next year we will double that number. It doesn’t matter who you’re hiring, here are a few things to consider:   1. Hire for attitude   You might be running a technology start-up, having developed some incredible software that is set to transform businesses all over the world. The potential candidate doesn’t need to know everything about the technology or your market, they just need to have the right attitude and you need to be confident they’ll get the job done. You don’t need ‘thinkers’, particularly in the start-up phase, you need doers, and lots of them.   2. Find the self-starters   Hire people who don’t necessarily have the ambition to run their own company, but have a high self-esteem, who push your organisation to do right by your customers, and take pride in seeing a job done well. People talk about team players, and it’s important the candidate can work in a team, particularly as there aren’t too many places to hide as a start-up. You need people, particularly in sales roles, who can motivate themselves, take the knocks and get straight back up again.   3. Forget the questions   My hiring routine for many years has been to meet candidates at the office and talk about our company while introducing them to various members of the team. I learn a lot from first impressions, especially from how and who the candidates choose to interact with, and perhaps the intimidating experience of running up and down stairs with me talking. Then it’s coffee time, with a couple of slightly left-of-field questions, to see again how they react. I have only ever scared one candidate away.   4. Be flexible with the role   As start-ups and business owners, you wear many different hats, so it’s important to define the role you want your candidate to fulfil initially, but also for them to understand that it will evolve. Do they understand what the job involves? Have you been honest with them about what your expectations are? And that they can influence and make their own role as the company grows? So many businesses will embark on a search but won’t determine who they’re looking for. The candidate might be able to fulfil the role but would they fit culturally in your organisation?   5. Don't settle   It’s tempting to hire someone because they’re available and you need someone as soon as possible. But don’t settle. Be sure that you think they’re the best person for the job and your start-up and if they’re not, you might need to so some additional work to ensure you find the right person. Good people and great people make all the difference.   6. Have some fun   It’s important to have fun, so take a break and ensure your team enjoys their work. Nobody can sustain working all hours around the clock. It’s important to take a break, have a beer and recharge. Your team are your best ambassadors for your company, so if they’re enjoying their work, chances are they’ll tell someone about it and that person could be your next superstar hire.   Michael Folmer Hansen is vice president and Asia Pacific managing director at cloud-based customer service software provider, Zendesk.

Three ways to boost customer satisfaction via social media

4:52AM | Tuesday, 9 April

It’s important to clarify that not every start-up needs to use social media for customer service.

Star-studded event series helps entrepreneurs face the Startup Grind

2:40AM | Wednesday, 27 February

The US-founded Startup Grind event series continues to grow in Australia, with the Sydney and Melbourne chapters set to host the founders of Atlassian and Zendesk respectively.

Zendesk hunts for software developers after opening new centre

9:37AM | Friday, 28 September

Australian software developers will gain access to a new Melbourne-based development centre set up by Zendesk, which will serve as a hub for the development of cloud technologies.

10 female entrepreneurs breaking down the tech boy’s club

5:26AM | Wednesday, 2 May

Our coverage last week of female representation – or lack of it – in Australia’s tech industry provoked a surge of comment within the sector.

Zendesk launches in Australia with promise to aid start-ups

9:27AM | Tuesday, 20 September

Software firm Zendesk has launched its Australian office with a pledge to help start-ups through some of the country’s top incubators.