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Use customer service as a weapon to beat your big competitors 🙋🏻

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If you have already read the preface on the email, directly start reading from here.


It is very likely that every startup competes with a large behemoth. That's a reality that all of us have to come to terms with.

The bigger company is always going to have greater resources than you. So, competing on features is not a smart battle.

There are other ways discussed to tackle such a presence. Some top ones are:

  • Niche it: Instead of targeting the entire market, have a narrower focus. This allows you to give a more tailored solution albeit to a smaller audience.
  • Cost: Sure, large companies can probably take losses more easily. But they have way higher overheads than you. So price them out of the equation.

However, there is more to it than that. That brings us to the subject of this article.

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Use amazing customer service to crush your competitors

Today, I want to talk about one other method. One which is very poorly discussed. A route which, I believe, to be much superior to the above two solutions. Amazing customer service.

This is not just a strategy but a spirit. I usually quote experiences from Flexiple to illustrate my point. This time though, I will talk about Unicorn and its founder, Alexander. He truly embodies this spirit.

Don't worry, I don't get paid for this endorsement :). But, that's exactly my point - his customer service is so awesome that I actually felt I should write about it.

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Starting with a competing service

So a quick introduction: Unicorn is a landing page builder. It helps you build static/marketing websites. I was looking to make Google Ads pages for Flexiple and didn't select Unicorn first. I chose a competitor service.

It wasn't a big company (not taking names) but the service was horrible. I would never get replies to my questions for days, if at all. Worse, I didn't even know if my question was being read.

That's when my co-founder suggested that I look at Unicorn. At the time, I felt that Unicorn lacked certain features that the competitor had. So, I reached out to the customer support to understand the timeline for those features to be released.

Within a couple of hours, Alexander reached out. I wasn't made any false promises - those features would not be available for another couple of months. However, he immediately ideated a few workarounds and shared a few pieces of custom code that I could temporarily work with.

Ok, that was sort of unexpected. Not just the solution but the manner in which he was approaching the problem.

He had a customer in me.

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Building out my pages

I started building pages on Unicorn. The product is well built, no doubt. It is surely intuitive. However, I felt constrained by the design of the templates offered. So, I started adding custom styles myself.

You see, products like Webflow, etc. exist. They cater to the creation of static pages too (of course, they also offer many more features). But their support is pretty average. If you are stuck, it is likely that you will have to fight your way out of it.

In Unicorn, knowing that Alexander would bail me out, kept me at ease. This didn't make me lazy though, rather made me responsible - I didn't want to take advantage of great service from a person who was building a startup alone.

We talk about building empathy for our users. He managed to build empathy in me for the product and him.

He now had a loyal customer in me.

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Humanising the product

Recently, I had a scare. I had started taking help from my team to build pages for the website through my account. As luck would have it, one person deleted the entire website by mistake!

It was morning my time and Alexander was still not online. So, I pinged him and then sat & prayed that he had backups stored. Else, months of effort would go down the drain. A few hours later, he replied. He said that he did make daily backups and immediately restored my website.

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Now, of course, a backup is not a big feature in a product. But it is what followed that was brilliant. He apologised for the stress that I went through - he apologised for a mistake made by me! Not just that, he shared his personal number and told me that for such emergencies, I could actually just WhatsApp him.

I frankly can't imagine any other company doing that for me. That's the clincher for me - Unicorn was not a company but represented a human being behind the product for me.

I was now a fanboy of Unicorn.

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What is customer service?

My experience with customer service in recent years has been either with a bot or a human impersonating a bot. Staged answers to any question asked. The idea is to manage the number of "tickets".

I have had many interactions with Alexander. Each time, he spoke as a concerned friend, who is interested in my growth as much as his. We even joked internally that we now had a team member in Russia :P.

I realised that what we need from customer service is just a human talking to you like a human. To actually want to solve a problem for you and not to treat you like a ticket.

Unicorn might not solve all problems for me, but I know that my problems are listened to and cared about. I believed that the team would do its best to address them. To me, that's what great customer service is and I think this would make me choose a product over another 99 out of 100 times, if not every time.

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Make your startup more loveable

There is something for all of us to learn here - I surely did. Maybe, you can also pick a few things to make your startup even more loveable.

Have you had such great experiences with any other company? Do let me in the comments below or as a reply to the tweet here.

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