For startups just beginning to gain traction, the joy (and relief) of watching user numbers grow can vanish as soon as support requests start coming in. If customers don’t get their queries answered quickly, it can negatively impact a fledgling company’s reputation. But responding to questions in a timely fashion is difficult when a startup is still run chiefly by its founders.
Australian company Influx recently received $250,000 in seed funding from Mark Harbottle, a founder of SitePoint.com and 99designs, and Leni Mayo, an early investor in both sites, to help startups help their users.
Founder Mikey De Wildt wants the company to enable tech startups and other online businesses to provide quality customer support while they are scaling up. Influx’s services are currently available in Australia and it will use its seed funding to expand globally.
Many customer service support providers won’t work with startups because their customer enquiry volumes don’t yet meet their minimum requirement. Influx doesn’t require a minimum volume and offers its services for a flat fee starting from $199 a month, even when a startup gets more customer enquiries during a peak period. All of Influx’s customer service providers, who are currently based in Australia, speak English as a first language and have tech backgrounds. The company also provides weekly reports so startups can see what bugs customers are complaining about or which features they want added.
Founder Mikey De Wildt says that startups have several alternatives to customer service support providers, such as hiring a freelancer. But drawbacks include not being able to attract good candidates because you can only offer a few hours of work. While services like oDesk and Freelancer make it easy to find contract workers, many are only looking for short-term work and have to be trained in order to handle tech-specific customer questions.
“To address these issues faced by many developers and new project founders, Influx aims to disrupt the traditional structure of outsourcing customer support to bring all the benefits of outsourcing your customer support, whilst eliminating the disadvantages,” De Wildt told me in an email.
As Influx grows, it will start to hire more customer support staffers in key locations around the world. De Wildt says Monterrey, Mexico is one possibility because it has a strong startup scene and plenty of tech talent.
Influx’s core offering is an email-based customer support service that can scale with startups as they grow and it is already generating good revenue, says De Wildt. Influx will also start to offer additional features. Potential additions include authoring documentation so startups can ask the company to write a knowledge-base article for a one-time fee and live chat.
Image by picjumbo