The Oft Forgotten Function – Support

By Stacie Chang

You’ve found product market fit – now what? Scale, of course. But scaling is hard. There are so many different parts of your business that you need to think about –hiring, product, sales, among others. In LTV, we did a great job covering the obvious roadblocks that you’ll face:

·         Hiring– in CloudFlare, we discussed the challenges of adding process and organizational structure without changing the culture of the company. Hiring people is hard. Who do you recruit? Are they right for your organization? Can you only hire rockstars? And what will it cost you in terms of money and time?
·         Product – in OPOWER, we discussed technical debt and the impact it may have on your team and product. When is it ok to have technical debt? Is it possible to build a product/platform on a poor foundation? When can it be good – testing vs. deployed software?
·         Sales – in Plastiq, we focused on if there was product market fit, but we also discussed options for scaling sales. When should companies choose channel vs. direct sales? Who is the “right” sales persona? How do you create a learning sales organization that can feed information back to product?

All of these topics are critical in thinking about scaling, but there is one category that I think we missed. Perhaps it is embedded in product or sales, but I think it deserves it’s own category – Support.

Different companies call their support teams different things – service, customer success, community management. Whatever you call it, it’s important to understand how deeply this team is connected and how often it interacts with the other functions. Some people assume that once the sale is done, the sale is done. That is rarely the case these days even with companies that are “self-service” or “easily provisioned.” There is often still heavy lifting to be done post sale. That’s when your support team comes in. They take care of a lot of stuff that’s behind the scenes. From something as simple as setting up log-ins for customers or updating documentation to important retention tactics like on-going training and help desk, account management, and cross- and up-selling – these are all things that the support team is in charge of. Even cloud based, administrator friendly systems require some integration or after-market support.

When companies start to scale, they often focus on growing sales as quickly as they can with little regard to how they will retain and build their customer base. This is a mistake. A properly scaled support group will not only help you retain customers, but it will also be a great way to test new features, collect feedback, and promote word of mouth referrals. We often talk about lean startup methodologies pre-product market fit, but you shouldn’t stop being lean just because you have started scaling. Your support team, like your sales and marketing team, can present great opportunities for testing new iterations of your product even as you are scaling.


Popular posts from this blog

Quiz Time 129

TCS IT Wiz 2013 Bhubaneswar Prelims

The 5 hour start-up: BrownBagBrain