[Founder Lessons] Startups That Communicate With Customers Will Succeed


Lance Trebesch Lance Trebesch is the CEO of TicketPrinting.com & Ticket River which offers a variety of event products and ticketing services. After nineteen years of Silicon Valley experience, Lance found the key to happiness is helping customers worldwide beautify and monetize their events with brilliant print products and event services. Listening to his customers and learning about how they plan their events – ranging from concerts to fundraisers has helped him gain insight and expertise on how to host a successful event that he is always eager to share.

When examining the differences between failed and successful startups, you will see many theories. Everyone seems to have one. I’d like to share mine, which comes from decades of work with startups, both as an employee and as a CEO. The factor that separates successful startups from unsuccessful startups more often than not is communication.

Startups don’t have the brand value of big corporations. They typically can’t afford to spread their messages on a widespread basis. This means finding ways to reach customers in more personal ways. The better startups can communicate, then, the more likely it is they will succeed.

Building trust

Every online business faces the same imposing obstacle: gaining trust. People don’t just enter their credit card numbers into any old site. Before they do they need to have a level of trust. The challenge for any business is to create that bond of trust. Getting started can prove daunting to even the most dedicated CEO.

The most reliable way to build trust is through word of mouth. You’ll have to work hard to earn the trust of those first few users, but they’ll pay you back a thousandfold if you treat them properly. Those first few sales must be picture perfect. The entire process, from placement to processing to shipping, must exceed the customer’s expectations.

Exceed expectations and those customers will trust you in the future. Furthermore, they’ll recommend you to people they know. That builds an implicit trust between you and another prospective customer. Exceed expectations for them, and the cycle continues. It all starts with communication. Communicate expectations to customers and follow up to ensure that they’re getting exactly what they desire.

Addressing objections

When people are dissatisfied with something, they like to have their voices heard. This can happen after the fact, but oftentimes it happens before they even make a purchase. They might see something they like in one regard, but might object in another regard. The easier you make it for them to address those objections directly to you, the better chance they will turn into paying customers.

Many CEOs might fear the prospect, but that means putting your own email address front and center. When people complain, they like their voices to reach the top. If you give them just a generic contact form, or a generic customer service email address, they might not feel inclined to voice their objections. Instead they walk away. That’s the last thing any startup wants.

By putting the CEO’s email address in plain view, a startup encourages people to voice their opinions. It means some ground-level work for the CEO, but that never killed anyone. Address these customers’ objections thoughtfully and sincerely, and you might just win them over and turn them into customers. It’s unlikely that an email from customer service could hold the same power.

Ensuring satisfaction

The exchanging of money for goods or services should not signal the end of a transaction. Startups have an opportunity to ensure that the product or service truly fulfills a customer’s needs. This requires a level of follow-up that too many startups neglect. When we ship out an order of tickets, the customer receives an email from me right around the time he or she is scheduled to receive the shipment. I want to know if everything continues to go well.

This single follow-up email does two things. One, it establishes yet another connection between the CEO and the customer. Two, it provides the customer with an easy outlet should anything actually go wrong. Now they don’t even have to visit the site and search out a help email address. They have my email address right in their inboxes. This has come in handy on so many occasions when customers have questions or issues with their orders. Within minutes they send me an email, which allows us to address the issue immediately.

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