Starting a business or any part thereof is a risky proposition. As new research by Harvard Business School’s Shikhar Ghosh shows, 75% of all start-ups fail, and when they do, so does customer service.
Every day failed organizations orphan customers who believed those organizations would always be there to serve them. When organizations fail, customers are often left feeling the brunt of lack of service or product questions, without the necessary resources needed in order to address those concerns.
A countervailing force has recently emerged in the world of business startups which removes much of the overhead that is traditionally associated with starting a business, the movement, called “the lean startup”, focuses on developing quick, go-to-market products and services and champions making complete product and service changes on the go. These ideas have quickly taken root in the start-up world, and business schools have already begun adapting their curricula to teach them.
In the 21st century those forces will make people in every kind of organization—start-ups, small businesses, corporations, and government—feel the pressure of rapid change. The lean start-up approach will help them meet it head-on, innovate rapidly, and transform business as we know it.
-Steve Blank, Harvard Business Reviews
5 Barriers to Long-term Customer Relationship Management
Previously, organizations have been constrained in their ability to serve their customers over a long period of time due to:
- The high cost of service agents needed to help customers beyond the initial sale of the product/service.
- The high cost of maintaining product information and support documentation.
- Limited number of product experts available to handle general customer requests.
- Limited resources for proper channel development and engagement with customers.
- Lack of emphasis on service teams during the initial startup phase of the organization.
Rather than waiting until the perfect moment to address all of these typical concerns that all new organizations face, leaders can accept the fact that there’s never a perfect moment in time when service work should be developed. It has to be something the organization commits to on day one and sets out from that moment on with the intention of doing correctly.
Self-Service and Crowd-Service Serve Even After the Company is Gone
The strategic advantage in today’s business environment rewards organizations that move quickly. The emphasis for organizations wishing to hit experience from day one needs to be on nimbleness and speed of serving customers. New ventures can roll out customer knowledge bases for self-service and customer forums for crowd service to get the speed advantage for service experiences.
Even if one customer contact channel is all an organization can afford to address, make it a priority from day one and show customers your commitment to service. Something as simple as a knowledge base or FAQ site can get the service process started. Start with answering the five most asked questions, then move to next five, and so forth. Whatever happens, those critical resources can remain in place to help those early adopter customers or future customers, regardless of the future circumstances of the organization.
Through continuous improvement and iteration on past service undertakings, organizations can continue to improve upon their service efforts until the day it’s required to pivot and move on to something else. Whatever happens, organizations can rest assured that customers will be cared for or have the necessary resources available to address their own issues if the organization can no longer continue serving them.