Embracing the Vocal Customer
By Hubert Liu
Once you’ve got paying (or non paying) customers, you’ll inevitably find yourself doing some support. In the early stages, before you’ve gotten your first customer success team member, it’s all hands on deck.
Sometimes support will be frustrating. You know how everything works inside and out -- things that are obvious to you, aren’t obvious to everyone else.You take offense when someone says that your beautiful creation isn’t working properly. Inevitably, there will be that one customer that complains every single time something goes wrong. While it may make you want to pull your hair out responding to this one customer, they are super important to your business.
Try to see things from the other side. Your product is so valuable they hate when it doesn’t work. They can’t wait to show it off to their colleagues, but get flustered when the mobile view doesn’t work quite right. This customer, the one that takes the time to contact you, is the voice of all other customers. Most customers that have problems will silently churn, and you’ll never really know why.
Sometimes, you’ll hit that one issue that seems impossible to solve. I worked with one customer that sent in a support ticket multiple times a week for a scheduled event that didn’t always work right. We tried to handle the issue within our helpdesk system, but eventually both sides became frustrated. Responses got shorter and more direct, but tone and intent sometimes are hard to convey over email. I found it incredibly helpful to get on a call with this customer, and we were able to resolve their issue after eliminating the back and forth. Having a real conversation allowed me to hear their tone, and gave them a chance to clarify what they exactly they were having an issue with. I was able to understand that they weren’t having an issue with me (or our support), but were frustrated of not being able to do something correctly in a product they enjoyed using. For products that have a lot of customization, moving an issue out of the ticketing system can really help bridge the gap.
It's incredibly helpful to get on the phone with a customer,
You can quickly resolve their issues.
Make sure to take care of your vocal customers. We’ve sent many gift cards and thank yous over the years to those that helped make our product great. We’ve even invited customers to sit in on quarterly prioritization meetings to get more feedback and let them know what we’re working on.
As an engineer, a lot of my tasks revolved around squashing bugs and getting features out the door. It’s easy to keep your head down and get lost in the code. While engineering things is fun, a lot of satisfaction can come from supporting real people with real problems. Remember to always embrace your vocal customers, have real conversations with them, and continue the good vibes by letting them know they are valued.