Small business and customer service: 3 tips for creating a virtuous loop.

At crowdSPRING we place a great deal of emphasis on customer service: quality, accuracy, and timeliness are critical measures of our ability to deliver this to our users. Customers are the life-blood of any business and small businesses particularly must focus on listening to their customers, responding, and making adjustments based on the feedback received. Three rules we live by:

  1. 1. Make it easy for them to talk to you,
  2. 2. Respond quickly – don’t keep them waiting and solve their problems as fast as you can, and
  3. 3. Learn from the feedback, make adjustments in response, and turn the feedback into a virtuous loop.

Here’s how we address these three critical components:

  1. 1. We provide both an easily accessible link in both the header and the footer on EVERY page on the site: “Contact us” is always a click away. Clicking the link gives users a very simple form where they can describe their issue or ask their question and it gets in front of us immediately.
  2. 2. We work hard to constantly improve the amount of time it takes to assign and solve every request that comes in. Our ultimate goal is to reduce the average “assign” time for any ticket to under one hour, and reduce the average “solve” time to under 24 hours. Of course some problems will always take a longer time to solve while very simple requests or questions will necessarily take longer.
  3. 3. We’re here to learn, to improve, and to make the experience and the product better for our users. We do that in several ways, but first by listening to suggestions and culling the best of these. We list these out and discuss them as a team at our weekly product meeting. This is where suggestions are debated, refined, and ultimately are developed into actual features, policies, and tools.

So how are we doing on this. I took a few minutes this weekend to analyze our support data and track our progress towards our goal of improving customer service. By some measures we are doing great and our efforts are paying off, in others we still have some ways to go. Here’s a few charts which nicely illustrate our progress:

Traffic. As our traffic has increased so have we seen more customer service requests and so have we increased our internal capacity to handle the additional volume. Here is a chart which shows traffic over time:

Requests. Almost in direct relation to the increased traffic, we have seen an increase in the volume of customer service requests. The callouts on the chart refer to relevant events which impacted our ability

Assign time. We increased capacity with additional manpower, but also built tools and procedures to make us more efficient in how we handle requests. The combination pays off over time:

Solve time. Most importantly we worked as a team to implement procedures which help us to continuously reduce the time it takes to solve a request. We’re not below our 24 hour goal yet, but we get closer and closer: