Category Archives: Thoughts

5 Best practices for providing world class email support


5 Best practices for providing world class email support

Inspite of a large social media presence, a lot of organizations depend on email to provide support to their customers. Not all issues can be solved over social media, email provides a better solution. It gives a more personal touch and helps is longish replies. Hence, it becomes extremely important to master the art of handling support emails. Here are 5 best practices that worked for us (they can work for you too):

Be friendly

Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Always use your customer’s name. Try to imagine a conversation and carry a smile on your face. Wish her a good day or ask how she is doing. Don’t miss an opportunity to wish your customer on Christmas, New Year or on Thanksgiving. Give them a friendly hint that you are always there to help. See what one of our users had to say:
Best email practices be friendly

Format well

Proper formatting is far more important than most of us think. Make sure your email is properly formatted so that your customers can read it easily. And try to convey things in a short and simple, point wise manner. Remember, your customers are reading an email, not an essay!
Best email practices format well

Use screenshots and links to help better

A picture is worth a thousand words. Make use of screenshots, guide them to relevant articles/blogs/videos. This will help them understand your point clearly.

If a user wants to know how to take a screenshot on his iPhone 6, it’ll be easy for him to figure out if directed to a YouTube video rather than just using words – “hold the ‘Home’ button and then press the ‘Sleep/Wake’ button” might not help everyone.

Speed, Speed, Speed

The faster you respond, the better it is for you and your customer. No one is going to wait for your solution to come for days or weeks, they’ll just move on to the ‘other’ product. What we found from our experience is, even during downtimes, users were happy to wait just because we were listening and responding to them instantly. Just be there to listen to your customers, they’ll love you for life. Here are some responses we received for our wicked fast support:
Best email practices speed

Follow-up

When a new feature is released or an old bug is fixed, always drop a personal note to the users who had requested the feature or were affected by a bug. This makes them feel special and builds trust. It worked really well for us:
Best email practices follow up

Incorporate these practices and see how they enhance your support overall. Feel free to share your thoughts as comments below.

Have a great day!

What to do when your startup’s competitor is acquired by MSFT for $200M


What to do when your startup’s competitor is acquired

Acompli, our closest competitor, was recently acquired by Microsoft for $200M. I’m sure many startups see a competitor getting acquired by BigCo. at some point. I wanted to articulate the emotions you will go through when this happens and how to make the most of such an event.

Panic – ‘Shit!’ will be the first word that comes out of your mouth when the news breaks
Pain – Your thumbs and eyes will hurt a lot, because you’re going to scroll through and read every single thing written about the acquisition. “Why did BigCo. not pick us”
Denial – You’ll quickly try and find the positive to it, but still feel sad subconsciously.
Analysis – You’ll probably have 117 theories on how/why the deal went down and where you went wrong. Those will range from colors on your icon, to lack of features and even to the location of your offices.
Acceptance – Eventually, you turn off the Google Alert for that competitor

All the above emotions are absolutely normal (even healthy) to go through if you are passionate about your product and your startup.

A few things to consider when this happens:

  • BigCo acquiring a competitor has never meant your startup is doomed. There are numerous examples of this – Sparrow’s acquisition by Google never hurt Mailbox, whose acquisition by Dropbox never hurt Acompli.
  • M&A action in your space is invaluable. As someone recently told me, it could be the ‘perfect storm’. Its a big validation of your market’s potential.
  • It can easily become a larger opportunity for your product. Mailbox now has a mandatory Dropbox sign up after it’s acquisition, which I’m sure causes people to dump it and signup for CloudMagic instead.
  • Its usually a beginning to what could lead to great things. WhatsApp’s $20B acquisition does not signal the end of the messaging era, it signals the beginning.
  • Don’t start emulating the competing product/business – you don’t know their context, why they were bought and what dynamics were at play.
  • Communicate with your team so that their thinking is aligned with yours. Don’t pretend it didn’t affect you, be clear in communicating that it hurts, and also that it’s important to get back to execution.
  • Put your head down and get back to work with your original plan, quickly.

In summary, its likely to be hard on you, there’s no doubt about it, but its not the end. Its easier said than done ‘ignore the competition, focus on what you’re doing instead’, but it must be done. Startups are an emotional roller-coaster (described further by Paul Graham here) but one must think honestly and rationally during the numerous ups and downs.