Ever found yourself in a department store wanting help and having to wait for sales assistants to stop chatting to each other? Found yourself frustrated at the robot responses via email or phone and wanting to speak to a real human?

While user experience design is generating a lot of buzz, there is another just as important experience called “customer experience” that happens outside of a business’s web app.

Customer experience is the long-term relationship you develop with customers. It’s the level of service you provide and how your customers feel about your business when they see your name or hear others talking about your company. Do they praise it? Do they like the product but can’t name the founder? What do you want your business to be known for?

Don’t compete on price, compete on service

How many SaaS (Software as a Service) web apps are there out there that are in the $0-$99 per month price brackets? Why would a user switch services just to save $5 when they would have to spend hours trying to migrate their data to the new service? There will come a point when your web app is practically indistinguishable from the 50+ other copycats. One way to distinguish your offering is with customer service.

Apple products are famously more expensive than everyone else in the computing & mobile market. However people still line up for every new release and Apple stores are always full of customers. Store employees approach customers not to sell, but rather to help solve their problems.

They will be your evangelical customers, advocating your web app and freely convincing others to buy and use your product or service. Make them feel valued.

Love your first 100 customers

One of the hardest things is gaining traction for your startup. The first 200 customers should be loved and taken care of. Give them your personal email address to contact you with problems. Don’t write boring email newsletters that read like they were written by a robot or an over zealous marketing guru. Write them as if you are emailing a close friend. Obama’s campaign famously split testing email campaigns and found that a casual tone was usually most effective.

Approach any communication or contact with customers as a chance for them to get close to you and make sure they know to put your name to a face.
Send your early adopters goodies such as stickers, t-shirts and handwritten thank you letters. Where a lot of processes are automated and companies all look like faceless behemoths, the personal touch will always bring your customers back.

Filed under:   creative   customer experience   customers   cx   design   service   user experience   ux