The process of building a startup company can be daunting. Even if you have the best idea in the world, it’s never easy to gather support for it and create a customer base from scratch. Especially when starting a technology company, as so many young and aspiring entrepreneurs today do, you’re faced with the challenge of convincing people to adopt new and unfamiliar solutions. The initial process can be a grind, as it could be slow going to get people to climb aboard the bandwagon.
This is essential, though. Your customers are everything. Your startup idea might be pure gold, but if you can’t convince the rest of the world to agree, your venture will never survive. Marketing your business is therefore just as important as founding it in the first place.
Devising a startup idea isn’t just a matter of envisioning a new technology and creating it. It’s also about finding loyal customers and building support and trust over time.
According to PandoDaily, after you’ve designed a new product, created it and put it out there on the market, the next step is to work toward gaining credibility. This means connecting with valued customers and working to ensure their loyalty. Girish Shenoy, marketing analyst at Freshdesk, says there’s no quick and easy way to do this.
“The final and perhaps most important stage in the lifecycle of a startup is getting to a point where customers can comfortably whip out their wallets and pay for the service they receive,” Shenoy stated. “But first, they need to trust you. And you get there by being responsive, eliciting user feedback and communicating with your early, most enthusiastic power users.”
Earning people’s trust requires much more than a one-time effort. If gaining trusted business allies was as easy as simply making one cold call or sending one email, then everyone would be doing it, but it’s not that simple. If you want people to trust in your idea, you have to be persistent, showing an unflinching ability to respond to customers’ concerns and consider their opinions.
Eventually, you want to reach the point where people are not just your customers, but your advocates. You want them to appreciate your product so much that they’re willing to testify to their friends and families. This begins with earning trust.
Shaping your success
Once you have a few customers in the fold, you can begin to consider their feedback and let it shape the future of your venture. Your first 10 customers are your most valuable ones – because they’ve been by your side from the very beginning, they have the best perspective on where your business began, where it’s going and what potential it has for improvement. Consider the input of these loyal patrons whenever possible. When you’re faced with a difficult business decision, try to ask yourself – what would my most loyal customers want?
According to ZDNet, feedback is crucial. Srinivas Kulkarni, a technology enthusiast who works with digital and tech startups in India, says that considering others’ opinions will prove hugely beneficial down the road.
“One of the key things that customer feedback does is help entrepreneurs build a process,” Kulkarni stated. “A process that will actually help not only quantify, vilify, validate but also give a vision and a clear perspective to their already well thought idea and passion towards their startup.”
When considering feedback from customers, you should try to look at people through both a quantitative lens, looking at statistics and relevant data points that can teach you about consumers’ needs, and a qualitative one, considering their thoughts and emotions as well. Both viewpoints can help paint the complete picture.
Prioritizing customer service
Your dedication to serving customers shouldn’t end with building an initial client base. You should always be working toward better customer service, whether your startup is just beginning or business is going strong. Being there to help people with their needs will always be mutually beneficial, improving the customer experience and adding to the credibility of your startup.
Forbes contributor Kyle Wong is a big believer in the potential for strong customer service to be a win-win proposition.
“Customer service is not only an opportunity to make your customers happy, but also your pipeline to valuable product feedback and insights,” Wong stated. “A strong two-way communication channel can be the lifeblood to ensuring customer satisfaction, honing your vision, and accelerating your product development. Investing in it will ultimately help you do your job better by bringing you closer to your customer.”
No matter how big your business eventually becomes, customer service will never stop being a priority. Connecting with consumers can help you build from the ground up, shape the growth of your company and continue thriving once your venture is up and running.
Have you had success building a customer base for a startup? How did you do it?