Scaling up is on every startups mind. If an idea can’t be scaled up, it is more likely to be scrapped. Even a Subway doesn’t have the secret sauce for this but there are a few things you can do right. Clickdesk did a few of those and here’s what they have to say:
Start with a viable idea first
When you are coming with your initial idea, talk to your friends. Lots of them! Carefully see their reactions. Do they get it? Are they excited? Do you have to buy them a beer to listen to you? Hope not!
For ClickDesk, our initial attempt was to bring virality into our core 65 man-year cloud-telephony platform, InVox, to acquire customers. Network World rated us the best while we were still in beta. It was an innovative way for businesses to receive calls from their visitors who could call them directly from browser using flash and our access numbers in 40 countries. Customer from Singapore could call our local number there to reach a business in other parts of the world. We started with that idea.
Listen to your customers & keep listening
Our customers asked us to incorporate chat functionality as it often started off with a text chat which then led to a phone call. We kept it simple allowing businesses to chat directly from their IM – Google Talk and Skype – without requiring them to install anything new. The effort took off.
The recently launched helpdesk was recommended to us by our customers as they wanted to manage offline chats and emails in a better way.
Customers are the best brand ambassadors for any business and they spread the word more actively (good or bad) than you can imagine. Customer support is one of the critical areas where a company should invest on, very early and continue to provide excellent support while scaling too.
Keep it simple
Kiss your customers good bye if they do not understand your service on your website in just 30 seconds. Put a video, keep the pricing simple, offer them incentive to signup (free models work too), and ensure that your dashboard is easy to comprehend. They should be done configuring and using your app in just 10 mins. There should be enough stickiness for them to come back and keep playing with your service.
Build on a decent platform
All the while, we had proven expertise on the cloud – we dealt very early with Amazon and Google clouds when these companies were giving free coupons to try their platform.
Developing on AppEngine and Amazon EC2 is always pleasure. You have to think out-of-box – no-sql big table, no threads, no huge latencies, backend instances etc. All this pays off. While we honestly expected no more than thousand companies, we grew to 20k customers doing more than 30M impressions each month. If it would not have been the platform, we could not have scaled easily.
Most of the problems are simple to fix early on. If not, they become a nightmare to deal later.
If you keep listening to your customers, have a solid platform to scale, offer a rock solid support (do not compromise) and a decent viable idea – I am confident that word about your company will spread and you will be successful.
Keep customers happy and more will come.
- Manohar Chapalamadugu, Founder ClickDesk