The world of digital commerce is dynamic and quick-moving. In the early stages of a company's growth, it may seem as if the startup has complete control over its success due to new technology, a disruptive business model and the size of its following. However tempting this thought is, nothing could be further from the truth!
In reality, there are several red flags that every entrepreneur should be aware of as they build their business or seek investment. In a survey of startup owners, 38% said that running out of funds was a major factor in the failure of their venture, while 35% mentioned a lack of customer interest as the cause for their company's collapse.
Failure to address these will very certainly lead to a company entering the ranks of startup failures. Continue reading to learn about the most common mistakes startups make when it comes to customer and employee experiences, and how they can resolve them using a total experience platform designed for customers and teams.
Why are CX and EX important for startups?
Because funds are limited, startups must carefully control their burn rate, which provides them with a relatively small window to generate positive cash flow via their value proposition and good customer experiences. They must also listen to the market and collect feedback to quickly pivot their offerings if necessary.
How can entrepreneurs achieve this in the midst of startup activity? When teams choose different applications for their own needs, they create data silos and no one has a single view of the customer. Without an overview of the entire customer journey, creating great experiences or truly understanding consumers is challenging.
One solution is to use a total experience platform like CINNOX. When startups sign up for a free trial account, they have two weeks to try it and decide whether it's a good fit for their tech stack. Aside from offering a wallet-friendly price plan that suits startups, it also consolidates every customer and employee interaction in one place.
Common CX and EX mistakes made by startups
Say you're the founder of an upcycling fashion startup. You've progressed from selling one-off designs on social media to launching an e-commerce shop with a payment system and shipping tracking service. You're now searching for the last piece of the tech stack puzzle: a platform for customer and team experiences.
Let's look at each mistake that startups make in turn and relate them to your fictional business.
1. The illusion of control
Startup founders may suffer from the illusion of control from time to time. It's common to overestimate your capacity to affect events and outcomes, even when you don't have much control over them! While confidence should be encouraged, too much confidence can lead to risk-taking behaviour that puts your startup at risk of failure.
For example, after returning from a recent fashion week, you get a strong hunch that 1990s fashion is making a comeback. You stock up aggressively on bales of used clothing, assuming that consumers want to show their individualism post-COVID with bright neon colours and phat pants, and easily outbid competitors at every auction.
There is one small problem. You did not gather feedback from consumers. After listing several vintage items, you could have tasked your agents with reaching out to visitors and asking what they thought. Or monitor live chat sessions to see how customers react to tight-fitting nylon shirts, neoprene jackets and platform shoes.
Your startup's ability to survive depends on meeting market demand. If you're not selling what fickle consumers want now, you may fade into irrelevance. Engaging your customers in two-way dialogue can even uncover valuable insights into where the market may be heading, keeping you one step ahead of your competitors.
2. Endlessly tweaking business models
The first step to building a successful startup is to have a business model. This means identifying whom you are selling your product or service to, what it is that you want them to do, and how much money you expect to make from each transaction. This may look good on a pitch deck but markets often have surprises in store.
The danger is that business models can be difficult to define. Many startups spend more time working on their initial business model than they do on actually building the product or service itself! This often leads to the endless tweaking of the original plan as new data arrives and changes are made based on those findings.
On the other hand, sticking to one particular variation of a business model can be harmful as well. What is a startup supposed to do when faced with this dilemma? You can get closer to finding success with your digital commerce venture by balancing experimentation with iteration, and by learning from mistakes—FAST!
Your e-commerce shop depends on a tried-and-true business model: list some products, attract web traffic, and then wait for people to add items to their cart. Alternatively, try conversational marketing to excite customers, dazzle them with videos, and share screens as your agents accompany them on their buying journey.
Instead of wasting money on discounts, coupons and website redesigns, you could boost your conversion rate by changing the way you sell online. Experiment with conversational marketing to learn how visitors from different countries react: some may want to be left alone to browse your listings, while others may love the attention.
3. Your brand is not your identity
Understanding the difference between brand and identity is crucial for digital commerce startups. Your brand shows the value of your offerings to customers; it is how people view your company. On the other hand, your identity is how you treat customers and employees, including every interaction they have with your company.
This distinction is important since promoting your brand may have minimal impact on your business growth.
Your pre-loved brand grew on social media because of the viral effect when people shared your listings. On the web, however, online competition is fiercer and expensive display ads are not delivering the ROI that you are expecting. Instead, you should focus on your company's identity: create personalised experiences that delight shoppers, converting them into brand advocates and increasing sales.
4. Disconnected systems and data
As your startup grows, you will add SaaS solutions to meet your evolving needs, such as an e-commerce platform or CMS for your website, CRM for sales and marketing, payments processing for finance, and more. However, they may not be seamlessly integrated, and data silos may create more difficulties than they solve.
Data for a single customer may be stored across different software. For example, the customer's purchases and addresses may be found in the e-commerce platform, while the CRM may have demographic information, and the payments platform may contain payment details. It is not possible to have a unified view of the customer!
Using a total experience platform, you can build an end-to-end solution, from first contact through final payment, customer support and retention. Integration with CINNOX can be done using no-code automation tools like Zapier or advanced use of the open API, removing unnecessary steps to match data and switch between apps.
Your genius hardware guru created an IoT clothes hanger that is tagged to each piece of clothing. When left unused for a long time, it will send a promotional message to the customer and automatically create an enquiry in CINNOX, informing your agents that the customer probably needs a new jacket!
Your startup can only benefit from a seamlessly integrated system. Getting a holistic view of the customer may help you make sound business decisions with confidence. Plus, system integration can reduce costs by removing redundant apps and boost efficiency by automating repetitive workflows, freeing up agents for productive work.
5. Over-managing every single process
Micromanagement, unfortunately, is a sign of insecurity. Controlling every part of your agent's job and decision-making demonstrates a lack of faith in your team as well as a lack of understanding about what you want to achieve. When you have limited resources, it's too easy to over-manage to meet your aggressive KPIs.
You hired customer service representatives from all over the world to work in the same time zone as your customers, as many other businesses did after COVID-19. While remote teams allow you to find talent wherever they are, they also provide you with little or no visibility into what they are doing or their productivity levels.
When you use a total experience platform like CINNOX, you can instantly get a real-time view of the pulse of customer and employee interactions. Besides seeing every customer interaction in one chat room per customer, you can also drill down into analytics and reports about the performance of individual agents and teams.
6. Being paralyzed by data
Data is a tool, not a strategy. It cannot predict the future. Nor does it solve problems by itself—it is just information that you need to interpret and use wisely to make decisions on what is best for your startup. Data may be used to validate assumptions, but it cannot be used as proof that something is right or wrong.
Human emotions also mean it is easy to make irrational decisions based on the ebb and flow of information. Should you be worried about daily sales variations, or should you look at monthly and yearly reports? By gathering interaction data today, you are creating a treasure trove of insights that machine learning and AI can uncover later.
Your website's logs are considered "dark data" because they contain information that is rarely used in day-to-day decision-making. Plus, they are difficult for teams to access and even harder to interpret. Using CINNOX, you can unlock insights such as a visitor's path through your store and their browsing language.
Gather enough data and you will be able to understand if shoppers are facing any roadblocks at your store, optimising it if necessary to ensure they end up at the checkout page! Or a surge of visitors from a particular country may convince you to hire agents who speak their language and understand their culture and nuances.