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How a commitment to customer service can help your business grow

HelpCrunch benefited from building a customer-centric business. Here's how.

By Lidia Bondarenko · May 17, 2021
Hero image of a 11 faces on a Zoom call

Building a startup is daunting. Building a startup in a competitive niche is next to impossible. That was the position we found ourselves in back in 2016 when we first launched HelpCrunch

Our platform was built on the idea that every customer deserved unmatched service at all times. And businesses should have all the necessary resources to provide it without juggling dozens of tools and spending a fortune on them. The HelpCrunch customer communication tool would become the remedy for both challenges.

The idea wasn't exactly new, and the competition on the market was already stiff. But that's where our own customer service entered the picture. Instead of the "show me the money" attitude often demonstrated by our mature rivals, we could afford the luxury of staying sincere and genuine in our client communication. Customer service became our trademark. 

So, what does being customer-centric exactly mean? Let me tell you our story.

How to build a customer-centric business

A customer-centric business puts its customers at the center of every initiative. Their goals and objectives are two main driving forces behind every business decision—from marketing strategy to product development.

When you start a new business, you do it to solve an urgent problem for a group of people. There's no two ways about it: you do it for customers. But here's the issue: somewhere along the way, owners begin to lose this sense of purpose in favor of more urgent challenges. How do I attract reliable investors? Is my sales funnel effective? Can we earn enough money to pay salaries? Why does the office coffee machine always make terrible coffee?

That is exactly what we at HelpCrunch wanted to avoid at all costs. A customer service software provider without a client-centric strategy is the worst case of a cobbler without shoes. 

We've never doubted for a second the importance of attentive support. We knew from the start that loyalty and retention weren't just marketing buzzwords. And today, we're proud to say that putting all our effort into customer service and customer-centric product development allowed us to achieve the following results:

  • 4.8-star score on Capterra and 4.7-star rating on G2

  • Customer satisfaction level of 95% and higher

  • Churn rate around 4% (a pretty good result for a small business, where the commonly accepted benchmarks are 3-5%)

All we had to do is practice what we preach and put a customer service strategy at the heart of our business. Here are the three activities that became the cornerstones of our modest success.

1. Prioritize the roadmap in cooperation with customer service

The day we rolled out the first MVP version of HelpCrunch was probably the day we also received the first feature request. Our customer support team (rather, at the time, our customer support person) had been the first to receive all kinds of feedback. They quickly learned that a prompt first answer and accurate prioritization are the most important parts of the job.

From day one, every feature request we've received has been stored in a designated Google Sheet along with the contact information of anyone who's made the request. Some inquiries are repeated more often than others, so we also added a tagging system inside our platform, so we could tag for things like Zapier, chatbot, knowledge base, co-browsing, and so on.

Whenever someone asked for a feature that we didn't have, our support team marked it with the corresponding tag and transferred it to a unified database.

Tags in the HelpCrunch dashboard
Tags in the HelpCrunch dashboard

Product managers could then easily track the popularity of various requests and adjust our roadmap accordingly. That's not to say that we didn't have our own vision. But staying responsive and flexible for our customers has always been more important for us. 

Several factors contribute to whether a particular feature is going to be delivered soon:

  • How long is it going to take to design, create, and deliver?

  • How many human resources does it require?

  • Does it in any way impact other functionality as well?

To give you a better understanding of how we balanced being customer-centric and keeping a cold head, here's the story behind our Zapier integration. If our customer support reps had a dollar for every time someone asked them about it, they could've started their own HelpCrunch after the first year.

People want to integrate all their disconnected tools into one well-oiled system, and Zapier allows them to do just that. So the high demand wasn't that surprising. But as popular as it was, we couldn't deliver it for a long time because of our outdated API. So first, we had to rewrite our API from scratch and migrate the entire HelpCrunch platform to it.

Did we know that the new API was long overdue? Sure. Did people requesting the Zapier integration so much help us put things into perspective and speed things up? Absolutely.

Zapier is a no-code automation tool that lets you connect your apps into automated workflows, so that every person and every business can move forward at growth speed. Learn more about how it works.

2. Follow up on old leads and re-activate them after each feature release

Why was it important to mark each chat with the corresponding tags? And why did the Google Sheet contain contact information? Because delivering new features means nothing if you don't let people know about it. (Customer centricity and putting people first, remember?)

Each time the product and engineering team rolls out new functionality, not only do we include it in one of our regular marketing newsletters, but we also use it as a pretext for personal follow-ups.

There are two ways to do it effectively:

  • If a feature is less popular, customer service reps can just copy the contact information from the spreadsheet and send a few emails manually.

  • More frequently requested functionality requires some automation. So our support agents usually compose a semi-personalized email and send it to all contacts marked with the corresponding tag.

Here's an email our customer success manager sent to the old leads about the Zapier integration:

Personal follow-up example after rolling out Zapier integration
An example of a personal follow-up email sent after rolling out our Zapier integration

The reaction was stunning. The open rate varied from 33% to 43.4%, depending on the country. One customer's exact quote was, "That is super great news. We are looking forward to migrating to HelpCrunch in the near future." Music to every business owner's ears.

Compare it to a more depersonalized marketing announcement. Given how important this particular feature is, we've put a spotlight on it there as well. But the immediate reaction was rather chill in comparison.

Part of the marketing email announcement about Zapier integration
Part of the marketing email announcement about Zapier integration

It's not surprising that personal follow-ups from customer support got such positive traction. They're sent as a friendly note to people who have expressed explicit interest in the subject. No one could've asked for more.

3. Keep your business rating at 4.7 stars or higher

You're more likely to buy something if it has positive reviews, right? One of the best ways to get good customer reviews is to offer helpful and genuine customer service. Support reps are often the ones that communicate with your customers or clients the most, so they're going to leave an impression. You want that impression to be excellent.

That's why we ask people to rate our product after providing them with an outstanding support experience. Would you rather endorse a product after a depersonalized NPS survey, or when a company representative wrote to you personally and offered a feature built specifically for you?

Customers play a crucial role in building your brand image and promoting it all over the internet, so we use a couple of strategies to ask customers for their honest reviews:

  • Support reps send customers a chat message at the end of a conversation, asking them to review our platform. It only happens after people express their explicit satisfaction with timely and relevant assistance.

  • The marketing team has an automated email sequence based on customers' satisfaction scores. If people rate their chat experience as perfect, it can mean they're open to giving you a well-deserved endorsement elsewhere.

Chat canned response from the HelpCrunch dashboard
A chat canned response from the HelpCrunch dashboard

Bottom line

It's impossible to overstate the importance of meaningful customer relationships for a small business. While big corporations are all about pushing clients down the sales funnel, little companies can and should bring their souls to work. And what better way to do that than via direct communications? Where you can't beat the competition in features, you can make up for it with excellent customer service and attention to detail.

At the same time, small businesses are often intimidated by providing customer service. Some imagine that it takes a huge call center with dozens of operators, while others think of their companies as too small to even care about such things. But in reality, it all comes down to the right communication channels and proper prioritization. 

A live chat window that's only active during your operating hours and an email contact form don't require unsustainable resources. At the early stages, one person is all it takes to be there for your customers. So, don't hesitate to place your clients on a pedestal and provide them with worthy customer service.

​This was a guest article by Lidia, Head of Outreach at HelpCrunch. HelpCrunch is a one-stop platform for building meaningful relationships with your customers via live chat, self-service, email automation, popups, and more. Want to see your work on the Zapier blog? Read our guidelines, and get in touch.

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