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Great customer support is also a growth hack

Phone Operator Growth Hacks for her Boss

This blog post is written by Alice Default. She is in charge of marketing at Front (a YC grad), with a sweet spot for content. She writes about shared inboxes, email productivity and startup culture. Get in touch with her at @alice_default.

Customer support is never on top of the list when it comes to growth tactics. Most of the time, it’s not even on the list.

For us here at Front though, customer support has helped us from the start to grow, retain and create real relationships with our customers. Because it does help to have a great product. But in the end, it’s always going to be about your customer.

The thing is, customer support is not only about fixing bugs and replying to ticket requests. It’s also about everything else that involves your customer. It’s about how easy you are to find, to signup to, to use, to implement. It’s about engaging with your users, listening to them (and not only when things are going badly). It’s about understanding them.

Here’s how focusing on achieving great customer support could also help you grow your acquisition, activation and retention rates.

1. Customer Care and Acquisition: pushing word of mouth and sales recommendations

As sad as it is to say, good customer support experiences are still rare. That’s why great customer care can have such an important impact on organic growth, word-of-mouth and sales recommendations. 

Nailing the basics should of course be your priority: reply quickly, give the right answers and assist your customers through all the different steps your app requires. Once that’s done though, there is more you can do to take great customer care even further as far as acquisition goes. 

It starts by setting the right triggers to make it dead easy for your customers to talk about you around them and share insights on your product will help spread the word about it quicker. You want to give your users a good reason to give great recommendations about your product.

Front App - Customer Support Growth Hack

Front App – Customer Support Growth Hack

Here are a few things you can try to boost acquisition with great support 

  • Make it dead easy to share the word about your product and encourage your customers to spread the love around them. This can happen through sharing buttons in your communication messages, an easy referral system or working on a viral loop inside of your product if applicable.
  • Have your most active customers become ambassadors for your brand. Your goal here should be to create communities of influencers around your different use cases and work closely with these influencers to understand how exactly your product can fit their needs. If you manage to do that well, you’ll have people that believe in you spreading the word around them.

2. Customer support and Activation: having proactive customer support 

Once you’ve managed to let people know your product exists, customer support plays a huge part in getting people to get to that “aha” moment that will win them over. Having a great onboarding process does part of the job. But there is also a lot you can do with proactive customer support.

  • Send a personal welcome email to all new signups. The purpose here should be to kick off the conversation in a simple and short way, not to jump into a salesy demo. We like to do it manually at Front so that it doesn’t caught in spam folders. And that way we make sure that it doesn’t contain an unsubscribe link or the company address in the footer, leading to higher response rates.
  • Offer your assistance to inactive users. A lot of our signups never go past a certain activation threshold. This is why we get in touch with them with an automatically triggered message to ask them if they need any help. This email lets us make a personal connection with customers so they know that they have someone they can reach out to when they’re ready to take the next step in the app.
  • Don’t give up on those who never converted. Make sure you have some type of clawback email at the end of your drip campaign. At Front, we send an email to all those who didn’t convert 30 days after their signup. Our purpose there is to re-engage with users that never activated, understand why they weren’t happy enough with our product and learn for the future. And we hope to convert a few each time.

3. Customer support and Retention: lowers churn rate

Your focus as a startup should be to get your customer engaged with your service and see the value in it as fast as possible. Just because if you manage that, they’ll be less likely to churn out. And providing great customer support definitely helps keeping these engagements rate up.

But there are times when churn does seem like inevitable. This is why your job is to proactively look for indicators showing that a customer is starting to slip away and see what you can do to fix it.

Here are a few things you can try to boost retention with great support

  • We got into the habit at Front of sending out an email to customers that seem like they are slipping away. In this email, we usually ask them if we can give them a quick call to figure out if there is anything we can do for them and see if our product is a good fit for their needs. We usually get really good feedback that way and are able in some cases to get people back on the app by showing them a feature they didn’t know about or adapting the product to their needs.
  • Be really transparent with where your company is going. A lot of customers will churn because they feel like you’re never going to have that “must-have” feature they want. But maybe you’re about to develop it! Sharing your product roadmap with your customers and being proactive in announcing new changes in your product can go a long way.
  • Finally, send out small gestures to your customers, to thank them for using your service or your app. First of all because it will help word-of-mouth but also because it’s really important to let your customers know you appreciate working with them and that you really care about helping them as best as you can. Wufoo is famous for sending out hand-written notes to their customers written by employees from the entire company. At Front, we had Front legos made that we send out to our customers to thank them :)
Front App - Gratitude as a Growth Hack

Front App – Gratitude as a Growth Hack

Wrapping up

Focusing on our support since day one has led our growth and allowed us to maintain high activation and retention rates. On top of that, since we pay so much attention to our customers, it allows us to build a better product by staying connected with them.

So when you’re thinking about the next growth hacks you want to try, don’t forget to add great customer care to your list!

How customer support is actually a #growthhack by @FrontApp via @growthdevil
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