Zendesk, Inc. (NYSE: ZEN) today released the Zendesk Startups CX Benchmark Report, documenting how early-stage startups that invest in customer experience (CX) outperform their peers. The data shows that while there is no one-size-fits-all approach, startup success stories have one thing in common: the ability to provide more holistic support to customers from the beginning.
The findings feature Zendesk Benchmark data from more than 4,400 early-stage startups from around the world, giving founders and CX leaders direct insights into this crucial part of their businesses for the first time.
Most surprisingly, more than 70 percent of startup founders and decision-makers reported they do not have a formal customer support strategy in place. This shines a spotlight on how many companies are missing out on the opportunity to deliver on the customer experiences that will set them apart from their peers and foster long-term business success.
“India is a thriving startup hub and home to several Unicorns – many of whom have embedded customer experience as part of their growth strategy. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly hit many Indian startups hard, highlighting the importance of having robust customer support from the get go. The Indian startup community has shown their tenacity and adaptability in the past and will do so again. And we hope the learnings from our latest Zendesk Startups CX Benchmark Report can help shed light on the path forward in these unique times.”, said KT Prasad, MD and RVP Sales, India & SAARC at Zendesk.
According to the report, fast-growing startups—those that have doubled their customer support agent count (a proxy for employee growth) in the first two years of using Zendesk and have 18 months or fewer between publicly disclosed funding rounds—make greater investments in their CX strategies, and do so more quickly.
In fact, 33 percent of these companies are more likely to add omnichannel or multi-channel support in their first two years. The result is shorter resolutions (roughly half the wait time for customers), better team efficiency and more options for customers to find the support they are looking for, which all lead to an overall improved CX.
The report identified six actions companies should focus on to operate like a fast-growing startup within their first two years, in order of priority:
- Set up a customer support function that prioritizes speed and convenience for both your customers and service team
- Add live channels, such as phone and chat, which are faster alternatives to email and web ticketing
- Launch messaging channels, like social media and WhatsApp, to reach customers on the channels they use in their day-to-day lives
- Establish an FAQ or help center, and include at least 30 articles that answer frequently asked questions
- Introduce at least one new app or integration to your customer support platform every six months to increase support agent productivity and streamline workflows
- Keep first reply times and resolution times down to three to eight hours
“It’s natural to prioritize your product at the beginning of your startup journey, but not to think about how you sell to or support your customers,” said Kristen Durham, vice president, startups, Zendesk. “We know CX directly impacts customer loyalty and retention, and whether you are a first-time founder, serial entrepreneur, or customer support leader looking to improve business performance, our data shows that the sooner you put customers at the center of your plans, the faster you’ll be setting yourself up for long-term success.”
The report also indicated that faster-growth startups direct more resources toward self-service and live channels, like phone and chat, with unicorns—privately held startups valued at over $1 billion—adopting live channels even faster. Unicorns also prioritize adding self-service features like online help centers 61 percent faster than other startups in their first year.
“Startups that want to rise above the noise should invest in building a strong foundation in great customer experience right from the start,” said Jeff Titterton, chief marketing officer, Zendesk. “Customers have come to expect more out of companies, regardless of their size, age, or industry. Having differentiated customer support can be the difference between failing to scale and becoming a successful, fast-growth startup.”