Hey, this is Morgan from Gemoo.
When a startup enters the market, founders are usually wondering what to focus on first. Normally, you must go through certain stages: focusing first on product development, then on building a customer base and establishing a positive cash flow. However, in today’s competitive world, meeting customer demands is more important than ever for a business to succeed. Customer service has been an integral part of every business, no matter large or small.
When Gemoo was first released and the first user feedback came in, there was no customer service staff in my team. An idea came to my mind somehow: Why not do it myself? There is no better position for getting to know my users for the first time than that of CS. Furthermore, I was incredibly interested in how my users would respond – what motivates them and what pisses them off.
I wouldn’t say that I took it upon myself to personally respond to every user’s feedback because I already have a lot on my plate, but I would say that I am aware of all requests, feedback, and bug reports made by my users, and whenever possible, I have personally responded to them. Now I find it’s more of a necessity than a choice in the early days, and it’s absolutely the right thing to do.
• 1v1 user interviews
In the early days, we need conversations that lead back and forth, and we need to be able to ask our own questions, lots of them, to dig deeper into why our new product isn’t performing how we want it to. Those front lines are customer service every single time.
It’s easier to identify those users who are open to conversation if I do CS myself. I’ve mentioned this also in my post “What I learned after talking to my users”. I’ve conducted 4 interviews so far out of the 8 users who have accepted my invitation, and several of them were found through users who actively provided us with feedback via customer service email.
• Establish a positive reputation
Founders who handle customer service themselves can ensure that any issues or complaints are addressed promptly and effectively, which can help to maintain a positive reputation for Gemoo.
When our LTDs were released, I received several concerns about the name of the LTD. Being in charge of customer service myself allowed me to immediately learn about these complaints, react quickly, and then make things right ASAP. A user purchased Gemoo after I responded to his concern about LTD.
• Help refine the product and identify areas for improvement
Founders who handle customer service themselves can gain a better understanding of their customers’ needs, pain points, and preferences. This can help them refine their product or service offerings and improve the overall customer experience. I’ve received much feedback on user experience and feature requests, some of them have been addressed properly and added to Gemoo already.
• Faster feedback loop
By handling customer service myself, I can receive feedback from customers more quickly and directly, and make necessary changes to Gemoo in a timely manner.
Initially, Gemoo didn’t have a download option, but it was being developed and is now available as a result of numerous requests. When I have a meeting with my dev team and product managers, I don’t say things like “I think we should do this, it would be cool”. Anyone can do that. I say things like “Look, we received over 40 user requests for the video download option, so it seems like people are loving it, and I think it would be better if we had it.”
In the early stages, resources are always limited. By handling customer service myself, I can save on the cost of hiring additional staff or outsourcing customer service. However, it’s time to move on, as I feel exhausted and sometimes give late responses to my users. I’m planning to recruit customer service staff.
• Personal touch
Users appreciate a personal touch and may feel more connected to the brand when they interact directly with the founder. I believe this can help build brand loyalty and increase customer retention.
Doing customer service myself allows me to build a direct connection with my users. I got a better understanding of their needs and preferences, which I believe will help Gemoo become a more user-friendly product.
Although there are benefits, I have to admit that CS can be very exhausting and time-consuming. Sometimes I need to create a step-by-step guide for users, and other times I need users to provide me with additional information to help us locate their problems precisely, which requires back-and-forth emails and always takes time.
Complaints are common, and I understand how they can be hurtful, but trust me when I say that your users will notice if you treat their complaints well, even if you don’t solve the problem at all. But still, they will feel valued.
In conclusion, I still strongly advise founders to handle customer service themselves when it’s possible. It takes time, but the benefits may be worth the time investment. You just need to know when to stop: You should stop when you get burned out from it. Because your users won’t get sufficient and quick customer service, your brand’s reputation will suffer.
Please feel free to send a message via MorganKung7 to share your experiences with CS if you’ve done it or are currently engaged in it.