5 Lessons You Can Learn Doing Your Own Customer Support
At MyCreativeShop, we’ve chosen a rather unique approach to handling customer support as we’ve grown from nothing into a multi-million dollar eCommerce business.
What’s unique about our approach? We’ve never hired anyone else to do customer support.
That’s right. As the owners of MyCreativeShop, Jason and I have handled every support ticket that’s ever been sent to us, every Facebook message, tweet, chat, etc.
Although we won’t always be able to do 100% of our own support, the lessons we’ve learned along the way have been crucial to our success, and I wanted to share them with you.
1. Listening to customers will help you build a better product
It hasn’t been easy to juggle customer service with every other role we have in the company, but if there has been one lesson learned, it’s that customers can help you build a better product if you listen to them.
They’ll quickly tell you if there is a bug, if there is a missing feature, if you hit a home run with an update, or they might even tell you that your product is garbage.
Whatever the feedback, if you stay at the front lines as long as we have (or even for a week), you’ll listen, you’ll improve, and your product will be better off for it!
2. You WILL answer questions from anywhere at anytime
When you’re the owner, you give up the 8-5 shift and you embrace the mantra, “If not me, then who?”
If you’re the owner who also does customer service, then you know exactly WHO needs to answer that support ticket.
Tip: We use Helpscout to bring all customer support under one roof and to better educate our users on our product.
This offers a huge benefit for our customers because although we do say “we’ll respond in 24 hours,” in reality, we typically respond within the first hour, and we’ll respond from anywhere at anytime.
Here are a few of the random places we’ve provided customer service:
- In the dentist’s chair
- On a plane
- At a restaurant
- At a movie theater
- Waiting in line for coffee
- Rocking my child to sleep
Ultimately, this will likely be the lesson that could lead you to hire someone to replace yourself. Depending on what your company needs, you WILL find someone else to “support” you when your time could be better spent elsewhere.
3. You’ll learn (or want to learn) everything about your product
Jason has written every line of code on our site, and I’ve designed or been involved in the design process of every custom template and page on our website.
That was not the case several years ago (Jason wasn’t a programmer, and I wasn’t a good designer), but through managing our own customer support, we learned how critical it would be for us to master the skills that make our company unique.
This lesson saved our company. Embrace the grind and invest in yourself, because knowing what to do and also having the ability to do it, is the most empowering feeling for any entrepreneur.
4. Knowing your customers by name matters
Through the process of handling tens of thousands of customer support tickets over the years, Jason and I have gotten to know a lot of our customers by name (Admittedly, he more than I since he handled support solo for several years before we teamed up).
It’s an awesome feeling as a small business owner to not only see someone find great value in what you’ve built, but to also know them and their business by name.
These are the people who help you keep the doors open, not only because they help you pay the bills, but because they are confirmation that your product is meeting a need. Get to know them, they’re important!
5. We stay humble
The biggest challenge in handling your own support is to try NOT to be offended by what customers say or do.
We’ve put a lot of time and energy into creating something of value, so when a customer has a negative experience, the criticism can cut deep.
It’s the way you respond to these support tickets that can make or break your business. Sure, you could fight back with a response that could possibly trigger a social media backlash of epic proportions, but a better way to approach the situation is to make sure you don’t ignore feedback that could benefit your company.
It might be hard to see it at first, but it’s possible that this customer’s feedback could be exactly what you needed to hear, even if it is laced with profanity and typed out in all caps.
With that said, please remember that the customer isn’t always right. Don’t pivot too quickly or give up on your dream simply because someone had one bad experience.
Extra Credit: Are you a business owner? Try this!
We’re certainly living in a day and age where how we communicate can change depending on what’s trending in an app store. As a business owner, this phenomenon has huge implications for how your company chooses to manage its customer service.
Should you hire a new customer service person? Should you invest in that product/service? Should you put a phone number on your site? Should you create a knowledge base? Should you provide online chat? Should you build a chatbot to communicate with customers? Or more recently, should you use Facebook Messanger to connect with your customers.
In whatever stage you’re at in your company, I challenge you to put on a customer service hat for a week or two and see what you can learn.
Bigger Challenge!! Take a page from one of my favorite companies and implement a rule that all new hires spend a minimum of 6 months contributing to your customer support team. Don't think it's worth it? They recently wrote about how that rule helped play a role in building an awesome marketing team.
If you can learn (or relearn) one of the lessons I shared, it could be just what your business needs!