You always remember a clean restroom.

Great customer support is to startups what clean, comfortable restrooms are to restaurant franchises. The best companies are able to turn the experience into something pleasant, and it always says something memorable about your business. 

I saw the parallel during a conversation with Scott Markovits, who used to be Head of Support at InVision. Scott is adamant that you can learn a lot about a business in the way it responds to its users’ questions. And I’ve also met some investors who make it a cornerstone of their decision-making process. 

It all made me think of this tweet:

Having great support sounds like something simple, that every business can have; but when you look around it’s clear that surprisingly few companies actually do it. 

And it’s not just about the customer’s experience, either. 

You can learn a lot as a business by investing significant resources in customer support. Often, founders dismiss support as just a cost center, even seeing it as being beneath them, unworthy of their time. But support should be a key driver of product decisions: what matters more than your customers’ experiences when deciding what features to build or workflows to improve? 

So in the earliest days, don’t delegate support to interns. You and your company would be losing way too much information when they leave. Don’t kill features without asking support. Support is where you learn what your users are doing at the margins, and huge opportunities arise from understanding those margins. 

If you pay attention, you’ll see that the best founders are completely obsessed with support. Patrick Collison of Stripe & Tobi Lutke of Shopify run 100B$+ businesses and they still find time to engage with their customers on Twitter. Even with support teams numbering in the dozens, if not hundreds, they keep support as a core part of their routine, a central component of their thinking about the product. This is also an incredible example of leading by example; if the CEO is speaking to users, there’s no excuse for anyone in the company to not do the same! 

There are many ways to get insights from support. You can look at which pages in your documentation people spend the most time on. You can survey your support team to understand what the most recurring queries are, or what tickets end up taking the most time to address. 

Whatever method(s) you pick, you should treat support’s feedback with the same level of attention as you give to your salespeople. Sales may understand what makes your product more attractive to new customers, but support will have key insights on how to keep customers engaged and transform them into hardcore fans that you can upsell. 

By the way, if you’re building something to make it easier to transform the work of the support team into actionable insights, I’d love to talk!

The Family’s directors share daily insights on building ambitious startups, no matter where you live. Our next 6-week batch starts in September - find out more here 💖

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