Customer-centric Growth by Lincoln Murphy

Customer Success in Early-stage Startups

Early-stage startups think Customer Success isn’t for them. Wrong!

Not only is Customer Success for startups (along with established companies), it’s also your key to growth without the friction of churn and bad-fit customers distracting you from rapid expansion.

Let’s talk about how to apply Customer Success in early-stage startups.

For context, on Friday, May 5, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video (audio only… sorry) is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

Customer Success in early stage Startups

Susana asks, “What are the main points a small startup has to care about to build a strong customer success culture?”

I think you have to care about your customer. Start there. Understand what your customer … What is their Desired Outcome?

Startups are an amazing thing. They’re also incredibly, incredibly frustrating because the sky is the limit. The possibilities are endless. Anybody could be our customer.

We don’t have to worry about that stuff right now. Probably all of that is not true. We have certain customers that we built the product for. We have certain customers that can get value today. We have to get deliberate. We have to get specific. We need to understand who you’re actually trying to sell to or who your customers are.

You have to understand the different segments within those customers. That’s based on the Appropriate Experience of those customers, what they need. Then we need to understand just overall their desired outcome, what is the business outcome that you need and what is that appropriate experience? Then we need to start to solve for that.

None of that, by the way, takes technology. None of that takes any special skills. All of that takes a dedication to making sure that we’re here to solve for the customer success. Startups are all about what we don’t know. A lot of times we don’t know what we don’t know.

A good sanity check is always, “Is this in the best interests of the customer?”

Very often, we know some things. I just wrote a post a couple of weeks ago that got a lot of plays. It’s the $1.2 million Churn and Burn To Learn Mistake or something like that. It’s really all about the high cost of bad fit customers.

It specifically talks about a startup that knew full well that just three customers that they signed were a bad fit. They knew this because there wasn’t a technology fit there.

Yet, they still signed them.

I don’t want to spoil the whole thing, but basically, they lost $1.2 million in revenue, a couple of million dollars in company valuation and honestly could have gone out of business because investors started to lose trust. Go read that article. It’s very eye opening.

The thing is in startups up, we like to just ignore facts and almost be anti-customer in some ways because we’re just trying to do things.

I think that that’s a really big mistake. You could actually cause your business to fail. You could certainly cause a lot of friction to growth. No reason to churn over in customers right now.

All of this goes back to having a just really dedicated focus on making sure that your customers are successful, which means really understanding what that means.

What is the Desired Outcome of our customers? And solving for that.

Hopefully that helps.

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