Ever contact a company for help with its product, only to have your inbox flooded with endless help-desk tickets? Nick Francis is here to fix that. As the cofounder and CEO of Help Scout -- which hit $3.5 million in revenue in 2015 -- he has created software that helps such businesses as Blue Bottle Coffee and Timbuk2 streamline their customer service operations (so customers actually get help rather than endless frustration). He tells us his dos and don’ts of building a business -- and keeping your customers happy.
Consider the customer.
“I waited tables for a couple of years at a fancy steakhouse, and I loved that job. Every shift was an opportunity to make somebody’s day. What juices me about a customer experience is that it’s just about creating a memory for someone. I could create a great time for whoever was there -- and sell a lot.”
“Don’t cover your ass. Last week, we totally screwed up for a customer on the technical side. I apologized profusely and provided a credit for their next bill and told them what we were doing to correct the problem. You can earn a lot of trust in those moments just as quickly as you can lose it. But people are human -- they’ll forgive you."
Correct your mistakes.
“In the first three years, we had to fire nearly 40 percent of the people we hired. I was giving people a lot of credit for their enthusiasm -- but enthusiasm doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to give everything they have to learning a craft. I had to start giving hiring a bit more structure and a bit more thought.”
Cast a wide net.
“Having an opinion that resonates with a specific audience -- even if that opinion won’t resonate with everyone -- can endear them to your business in a very unique way. For example, Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company, cares about the environment and it communicates that to its customers.”