Customer Support for Bootstrappers

Customer Support for Bootstrappers: Scaling the Team

In our posts Before you Launch your Product and After you Launch your Product we looked at the tech side of things you can do for bootstrapping the support side of your product. Let’s shift into looking at the human side a bit more. After all, all the technology in the world won’t make up for having the wrong people on your support team.

When a customer emails you, you need to have an actual human respond. As more emails come in, you’ll need more people to help reply to those customers. When you reach your limit, call on the rest of your team to pitch in and help.

Lots of small teams are taking this all-company support approach. Bringing on your partner, designer, programmer, etc. to work support cases is the same as hiring on another support-specific person, only at no extra cost.

There’s a couple of ways to start with all-company support like this. You could have each person take a support rotation for a few hours or half-day. Or you could have each person answer a set amount of support tickets a day.

The last thing I’ll mention here is to keep everyone fluent with your product. You want everyone on your team able to field any question they might get from a customer. When your team is fluent in all areas of your product, they’ll be able to provide a better experience to your customers. There’s no weak link then that might break under certain situations.

Of course, this all-team support will only help with the growing support load for so long. At some point, you’ll need to hire more support reps. But when?

A good rule of thumb here is to hire when it hurts. This lets you feel the pain of being short staffed. You’ll have a clear picture of what you need to hire a person to do instead of just guessing at what they should do.

Start looking for a dedicated support rep when:

  • You spend more than half your work day working support.
  • You response time is more than 24 hours to a customer.

Don’t freak out the first time either of these happen. It could just be a slight bump in your support load. When your support load is constantly heavy like this, go ahead and start looking for that dedicated person.

It’s easy to be bad at support. Companies excel at that all the time. Why not be the one that gets it right? With this mindset, and great tools, support can truly become your competitive advantage.

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