Your customers are the lifeblood of your company. Without their support, dedication and input, your business would have never been possible. As your venture starts to grow, however, you need to maintain these connections and relationships. Otherwise, you risk sacrificing your core value proposition as a small-business owner and may lose business to your competition.
"Going to market effectively these days, no matter what business you're in, means relating to customers as individuals—even if there are millions of them," consultant and business process researcher Brad Power points out in the Harvard Business Review.
As much as you would love to spend hours on the phone with your customers, you need more efficient solutions. The following five platforms can help you meet your company's high demands.
This platform has one core value proposition: to help businesses understand and connect with their users to build more effective products. Support tickets, feedback forums, knowledge bases and metrics are all features of this tool. You can even customize the software to let users share feedback directly from your Facebook page to the UserVoice app.
Subscription packages range from free to $95 per month, depending on your business's needs.
Speak2Leads helps businesses manage their leads more effectively. This is a Web-based lead response management app that supports several core functions: immediate lead response, persistent follow-up and services to handle overflow when your sales reps are busy. Speak2Leads integrates with most major CRMs and is backed by a client service team to help business owners get up and running with minimal hassle.
Pricing starts at $195 per month and increases per lead based on your business's size.
ZenDesk helps businesses streamline their customer service requests. The platform consolidates customer communication from social media, discussion forums and chat into a customer support ticket. Your customers can then connect with you through the channel they prefer. The platform also comes with analytics to help you boost your operational efficiency.
Plans range in cost from $24 and $119 per month.
Instead of requiring your customers to connect with you via email or phone, have them submit a form through your site. WuFoo is an intuitive, drag-and-drop form builder that eliminates the need for complicated databases and coding. You can brand the form to fit within the scheme of your website and customize instant notifications for teams that need to act quickly.
WuFoo plans range from free to $200 per month for more robust form features.
As your business ramps up, you'll probably face a number of questions from customers and prospects. ClickDesk integrates live chat support on your landing pages by redirecting messages to your Google Talk and Skype accounts. A help desk feature allows support agents to view, reply, transfer or flag incoming tickets. With voice chat, you can easily switch your online conversations to a phone-based setting. You can integrate ClickDesk with a number of platforms, including Google Apps, BigCommerce, Joomla, as well as major CRM solutions.
Plans range from free to $17 per month.
The Bottom Line
Customer service should be straightforward and enjoyable—not a frustrating hassle. As much as you care about your business, you aren't superhuman and have finite time in your busy day. As your business starts to grow, rely on technology to maintain that personalized touch with your much-appreciated client base.
Read more articles on customer service.
Ritika is a San Francisco-based blogger who writes about trends in business, Internet culture and marketing. She's inspired by the intersection between technology, entrepreneurship and sociology.