It’s an unfortunate reality: Startups tend to overlook their customers during the first two to three months of a customer’s journey. Instead of nurturing existing customers, startups often focus their energy solely on acquiring as many new customers as possible, and optimizing their product or service.
3 Benefits of Customer Centricity
- It validates their ideal customer profile, personas and any original assumptions about their customers’ expectations and behavior.
- It captures specific product-related insights from early adopters.
- It fosters customer evangelists who can provide invaluable testimonials and case study content.
Prioritizing sales and product development and neglecting customer experiences is understandable, especially in the earliest stages of a business. But it’s important to recognize that de-prioritizing a customer’s initial experience can create a negative, residual impact on the larger business.
When a customer first signs up for a startup’s product or service, their attention is undivided and arguably the most enthusiastic it will ever be. This moment represents an incredible opportunity for startups to make a positive first impression and provide immediate value to their new, eager customer.
Why Does Customer Centricity Matter?
To seize this timely opportunity, startups must adopt a customer-centric mindset. In other words, startups need to put themselves in their customer’s shoes and think like their customer. Imagine the excitement and anticipation a customer has when they’re about to get started with a product or service that solves a problem they’ve been experiencing for a long time. What will they expect to achieve in the first few days of using your solution? Will they feel they’ve made progress after every interaction with your solution and have a clear next action in mind? What are their expectations for the partnership overall?
When a customer first signs up for a startup’s product or service, their attention is undivided and arguably the most enthusiastic it will ever be.
When a startup puts themselves in their customer’s shoes and fully embraces a customer-centric mindset, they can begin thinking about all of the various interactions their customers will have with their business in an entirely new and much more effective way.
How to Provide a Customer-Centric Experience
Startups can follow a tactical process to ensure they’re delivering the most effective, customer-centric experience possible. Exact time frames may vary based on the specific product or service in question, however the following guide can provide helpful milestones for startups across a variety of industries and stages:
Day 0: Customer Orientation
This is a critical moment. Take these steps to ensure the customer feels welcomed and supported as they begin their journey with your product or service:
- Welcome them and make appropriate introductions. Get all the information you need from your sales team beforehand so you have a strong sense of who the customer is.
- Be transparent about the relationship and how it will function. If your startup has a dedicated customer success or customer support manager, inform the customer that they will serve as an extension of their team, serving as their advocate and voice.
- Determine what the customer’s communication style and meeting cadence preference is. Be clear about what their meetings with you will involve and what they can expect from you in the meantime.
- Create and deliver a cheat sheet or FAQs for new customers so they can reference it as needed.
Days 1 to 30: Customer Implementation
At this stage, the customer has many tasks they’ll need to complete to ensure proper setup of their instance of the solution in question. If your startup has a dedicated customer success or customer support manager, they’ll be less involved during this stage. However, a few things can be done to demonstrate value, including:
- Continually communicating. Leverage an automated email sequence or personalized communication (e.g. video) to keep the customer’s excitement up.
- Sharing training and education resources, for instance related webinars, blogs, case studies, toolkits, a monthly newsletter or even a welcome kit that includes quick start guides, demo scripts and best practices for using your solution.
Day 30 to 120: Customer Adoption
Planning and personalizing the approach your startup will take with each of your customers is key during this stage. To do this, customer success or support managers should:
- Ask questions about the customer’s business. What are their key objectives? What challenges drove them to purchase your product or service? Use this information to make your communication with the customer more impactful.
- Give the customer a checklist that outlines the key activities they should complete in their first eight to 12 weeks and why each of these activities are important.
- Collaborate with the customer to establish realistic KPIs for their first 90 to 120 days (e.g. daily active usage, completion rate, usage, etc.) Ensure these KPIs are clearly documented and easy to reference.
- Conduct a mini business review highlighting their first few months with your solution. In particular, this review should show how the customer is performing against the initial goals they set, ideally in a visually appealing manner.
Why Customer Centricity Is Effective
Achieving customer centricity and providing truly customer-centric experiences throughout all stages of a customer’s journey can feel like an overwhelming, almost nebulous task. Empathy and imagination can go a long way, however, in adopting a customer’s mindset and ensuring a customer-centric approach is delivered.
Startups should prioritize the key customer journey milestones of activation, implementation and adoption, ensuring customer-centric communication, materials and activities are delivered throughout so progress and results can be achieved.
When immediate attention is given during your customers’ early interactions with your product or service, it leads to higher retention and longer-term customer happiness. Stay close to them and don’t waste a second after your customers sign up.