Category Archives: Technical Support

Second to None Customer Experience: Beating the Goliaths

smile face on colored ping-pong balls

Great customer relationships = Powerful competitive advantages

By:  Andrew Johnson, Ph.D.

The quality of the interaction your customers (both current and future) have with you in the early days of your company can be a powerful differentiator in the long term.  In fact, establishing a high level of customer care is something that startup companies with small customer bases have a decided advantage over larger competitors.  When you have only a few customers, you are able to actually speak with them on the phone to ease purchasing or handle technical issues.  Doing this in the early days can help to create a group of evangelists for your product(s) that will generate the kind of positive publicity that will help you win new customers and successfully compete.

Hold onto this advantage by growing with your customers
All of this may seem pretty self-evident.  However the key here is to make sure that your customer care efforts are scalable.  In the beginning, you may be able to plan visits, schedule direct meetings with your lead R&D team members and other activities that will delight your first customers.  However, these types of interactions are costly (with regard to time, effort and money) and are likely not sustainable as your customer base grows.

Maximizing your customer relations efforts
Use your early effort-intensive efforts to learn what particular customer relations efforts are most valued by your customers and begin to plan scalable, sustainable and cost effective alternative that can grow along with your increasing customer base.  Doing this early, will allow you to plan for the budgets, human resources and other efforts that will be required to maintain this.

The following list of Customer Relations Tactics is intended to kick-off the thinking that will lead to a winning strategy.

  • Smooth purchasing process
    • Small Customer Base: Every order handled in-person or by phone
    • Larger Customer Base: E-commerce, ‘Click here for quote’ button on online store, hire inside sales dedicated personnel
  • Caring technical support
    • Small Customer Base: Every issue handled in-person or by phone
    • Larger Customer Base: FAQ’s on website, ‘How-to’ videos, hire dedicated tech support personnel
  • Easily contactable
    • Small Customer Base: Encourage customers to call you with any issue anytime
    • Larger Customer Base: Encourage customers to contact via email, hire dedicated tech support and/or inside sales personnel to handle calls
  • Insuring customer satisfaction
    • Small Customer Base: Check in with all customers by phone or in-person
    • Larger Customer Base: Check in with a customers by e-mail (automatically set up at the time of sale), periodically send out satisfaction surveys, randomly select a subset of customers for calls by dedicated inside sales personnel.

Picture Credit: © Dawnbal1 | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

The Technical Demonstration: 3 Tips to Insure Success

Pipetting into 96 well plate with multi-channel pipet

Always demonstrate using your own samples!

By:  Andrew Johnson, Ph.D.

If you are introducing an innovative new scientific product, you will likely need to plan on letting your customers ‘test-drive’ them first.  Good life scientists are naturally skeptical and often the only way of getting past this to a satisfied user (that will tell their colleagues) is with a demo.  Here are a few tips that should ease this burden and allow you to make the most of this effort.

    1. Only offer Demos to qualified customers.This seems like an obvious one.  However, it is easy to offer demos to anyone that shows interest.  It is quite another thing to actually conduct them.  Be sure that your customer  has the authority, budget and is planning to make a purchase in the next 30 days (if the customer is planning on making a purchase beyond 30 days, consider scheduling the demo later. (this is one of the times that being last is best)
    2. Establish clear success criteria for the demo with your customer.Schedule a meeting prior to the demo where you agree on what the customer would consider a successful demo (e.g. sensitivity, maximum measurement range, throughput etc.).   This will allow you to unequivocally determine that the demo was a success and remove the final barrier to purchase (I say final barrier as this is a qualified customer – see previous point)
    3. Be sure to use your own sample(s) during the demo.Customers will always want to run their own sample.  You can only show how your product performs using a well-tested standard sample.  Using a standard sample will allow you to demonstrate how your product works without the confounding effects that might be present in an unknown customer sample.  It needs to be clear that you have a tool that should help your customer with their research.  A demo should never be a research project (unless you are offering a service and the customer is paying for it).  Offer to run the customer’s sample along with your standard sample if the customer is insistent.

A good demo will go a long way to getting your new product into the market.  In time, the need for customer demos will decrease.  In their place you will be able to use testimonials from satisfied customers, reference customers and even a video demo or two.

Picture Credit:  © Phakimata | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos