Updated: Jul 2, 2019
As many of us know, starting a business is not for the faint of heart. It can be a long, dark, and treacherous road from idea to go-to-market, and it requires an extraordinary amount of patience and business acumen to see it through.
Many first-time founders have a very limited understanding of what customer experience is and how it can help their start-up mature through time. We define customer experience as the internal and subjective feelings customers have with every aspect your company. This includes how they interpret, think, act and relate to your brand and its offerings.
“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.” – Steve Jobs
This multidimensional (and condensed) view includes packaging, advertising, usability (online and tactical), public relations, product and features, and reliability. You need a strong, agile, scrappy team, and a founder who understands delivering a badass “experience”, rather than just a product or service.
There are three levels of planning every founder needs to know about running a successful start-up and customer experience program: the right team, a comprehensive solution-delivery process, and transparent organizational systems.
1) People are Everything
It can be tough to find the right people who have enough experience to enhance your idea and would take a chance on future profits. By implementing a successful internal experience (sales pitch, on-boarding, benefits package or incentives, coaching) you’ve got a good shot at instilling amazing customer experiences by simply showing your team how it’s done.
Instead of choosing the person with the most experience in one area, consider choosing someone who has experience in many. As most seasoned start-up leaders know, you’d rather have employees who have a broad knowledge of business systems rather than those who only have expertise in one.
Your team needs to be adaptable, flexible and willing to establish team communication protocols on the fly, to implement a successful experience.
2) Comprehensive Solution-Delivery Processes are Key
This is often overlooked for first-time business owners but having a few key solution-delivery processes in place can make your team more agile and adaptable. In turn, your customer experience program will reflect these efforts from the beginning.
Start by downloading (and branding) your solution delivery and project management templates and have them handy for new team members. They may never get used but having them readily available to new employees will speed the process of on-boarding and will set the stage for what you expect.
A dedicated project manager for each delivery is key. The project manager acts as the team’s on-site eyes and ears and will assist in identifying challenges early on. They will also help you determine when it’s time to bring in an expert. Don’t let your great ideas fade into oblivion for a lack of coordinated and people-led solutions-delivery processes.
3) Make Organizational Systems Transparent for Every Employee
You may have three or four different organizational management systems before you scale. These can include your content management, customer relationships management, and data analysis systems. All should be available to employees. Your teams need to be agile and cross-functional so they’re aware of the ‘goings-on’ in each department. Creating silos and limiting access to information will reflect poorly in your customer experience efforts.
Your product people need to know how long it takes to write, edit, and release content, just as your content and social media people need to know how long it takes to implement product updates and bug fixes. If you don’t arm your team with knowledge, miscommunications and shoddy project planning are almost guaranteed. Align your internal teams and you'll have greater success
Every team member should have access to data. You don’t need to grant access for editing, but every person in your organization is going to have important insights about measurements. Transparency is important in all levels of business and especially to your internal team for solutions.
You have to have a good idea, assemble the right people for your team, and have the passion, drive, and management skills to bring your product to market. The reason ninety percent of startups fail is that founders often neglect these three key factors.
Together, these factors can enable teams to provide a superior customer experience.
P.S. Did you know…
Organizations that lead in CX outperformed laggards on the S&P 500 index by nearly 80%. They retain higher share of wallet and have customers that are seven times more likely to purchase more from the company, eight times more likely to try other products or services, and fifteen times more likely to spread positive word of mouth [Qualtrics].
Pro-tip: Headhunt at your local non-profits for marketing, public relations, business development, content & web development, and admin. Non-profit development people are notoriously over-qualified and underpaid – you’ve got a good shot at luring them to your start-up with the right culture and resources. Recent college grads are also a good bet.