Ten Steps to Kick Off Your CX

Hi Friends,

I’ve taken Tuesday-Friday off this week to rest up. It’s my first proper time off since last October, and I am thankful for an incredible team that allows me to take a few days off to rejuvenate.

It’s also the first time in my career that I am taking time off and not traveling anywhere.

I am staying put in PA and sipping Watermelon Lime OLIPOP, inhaling pink and white cookies, and, might I say, ~catching a vibe~.

This newsie comes to you from ReAnimator Coffee in Philly with a macchiato in hand.

This week's topic comes from a request from a friend:

“I’m about 85% of the way done with launching my beverage brand (eeee!) and as soon as I start shipping the boxes to beta testers I will need to be the CX team on top of the founder, brand marketer, Ops lead, etc.

Could you please talk about building CX from scratch, especially how to set it up to scale successfully from day one? Where are the breaking points?”

Sure, product is always number one. But real talk, CX is almost as important.

Your startup's success isn't just about what you're selling; it's about how you're making people feel while they interact with your brand.

So, how do you start a CX function from scratch without getting overwhelmed, especially when you're already wearing a dozen other hats?

Today, we're breaking down ten key steps every startup founder should take to build a customer experience function that not only survives, but thrives.

Let's get started.

Today is the Day!

The CX Unlocked Guidebook is here! I'm proud to present this labor of love to the world!

This guidebook is dedicated to all the forward-thinking individuals who, much like myself, recognized the urgency of a fresh perspective in CX.

Your feedback and insights mean the world to me. If you have any questions or want to chat, don't be shy and hit reply. 😉

….But wait, there's more!

I've chosen the lucky winner of the CX Audit! 🥁🎉🥁🎉

Congratulations, WHOOP!!

Keep an eye out for an email from the Gorgias team; they'll be reaching out to take care of all the details.

A big thank you to everyone who signed up and participated. It’s a bummer I can’t run an audit for all of you…

…But wait, there’s actually more!

Gorgias has teamed me up with my close friend and CX superstar Zoe Kahn to give away five more free audits!

Here’s the deal: Sign up with Gorgias before 09/30, and Zoe will set your Gorgias account for BFCM success!

PLUS, two months of Gorgias for free on me!

Part 1: Laying the Groundwork

1. Redefine the Role of CX: It's Your Strategy, Not a Side Hustle

Let's be clear: Customer Experience is not just a department—it's your business strategy wearing a different hat.

From your initial business plan to scaling efforts, CX deserves a line item in your budget and a slot in your weekly team meetings.

As the founder, it’s your job to instill the value of CX and customer obsession into the DNA of the company. It doesn’t start when you hire your first CX’er; it starts when you create and launch the company.

2. Embrace the Peaks and Valleys: Your CX Learning Curve

Your startup will face its fair share of ups and downs in the early stages—product issues, shipment delays, or even a social media snafu.

Instead of viewing these as setbacks, consider them as data points. Each issue is a learning opportunity to refine your CX. With low volume, now is your time to learn, iterate, and test.

For instance, if a product release falls flat, don't just move on to the next feature. Dig deep. Conduct customer interviews to understand what went wrong and what could be improved.

Take advantage of how small and intimate your community is; the person closest to the customer wins.

On the flip side, don't just pat yourself on the back if a feature is loved. Analyze what made it a hit, and replicate that success in future endeavors.

Remember, the key is not eliminating mistakes, but learning from them quickly.

Use analytics tools to track customer behavior, surveys to gauge satisfaction, and direct feedback to make real-time adjustments to your CX strategy.

Part 2: Mastering the Solo Act—The Founder's CX Playbook

3. The 30-Min Rule: Your Early-Stage CX Barometer

Time is the most precious resource in a startup, and the 30-Min Rule is a helpful gauge for allocating it wisely.

If you're spending over half an hour daily on customer experience tasks, it's a red flag. Now, this doesn't mean you instantly hire a full-time CX professional.

Instead, use this as a trigger to evaluate your CX processes.

Are there repetitive tasks that can be automated?

Could a part-time intern handle basic queries, freeing you up for more strategic CX planning?

4. DIY but Don't Fly Solo: Leverage Your Network

You might be a one-person CX team, but you're not in a vacuum. Utilize your existing network to bolster your customer experience.

Have friends in the UX/UI field? Ask them to evaluate your customer journey.

Know a data analyst? Get insights on customer behavior.

It's all about pulling in favors and tapping into skills you don't possess personally.

5. Iterate, Don't Hesitate: The Power of Agile CX

Adopt an agile approach to your customer experience. What worked elsewhere might not work here.

Keep iterating based on real-time feedback. Simple tools like Net Promoter Score (NPS) or Customer Effort Score (CSAT) can offer quick insights into how you're doing. (We use Retently for both of these.)

But remember, these are just indicators. The real gold is in customer comments, reviews, and direct feedback.

Analyze this qualitative data to understand the 'why' behind the 'what.'

6. The Feedback Loop: Turn Customers into Advisors

Your early customers are more than just revenue; they're a treasure trove of insights. Create an open channel for feedback and actively encourage it.

Whether it's a monthly survey or a feedback link at the end of each transaction, ensure you are making it easy for customers to share their thoughts.

And once they do, act on it. Even negative feedback is a gift—it shows you where to improve.

Part 3: Scaling Your CX—When and How to Hire

7. Identifying the Right Time to Hire

Sure, the 30-minute rule is a great indicator that you need help, but it's only the tip of the iceberg.

The decision to hire should be triggered not just by the time you're spending, but also by the quality and complexity of customer interactions you're handling.

When you find that you can no longer give individual customer concerns the attention they deserve or when dealing with CX starts affecting other crucial parts of your business, it's a clear signal that you need to expand your team.

8. Hiring the Right Talent: Go Beyond the Resume

The first step in hiring the right talent is understanding that this isn't just another 'job.' You need someone who lives and breathes customer experience.

During the interview, ask questions that get to the core of their passion for CX:

What attracts you to customer experience and why do you want to work in this field? (Looking for passion)

Describe a situation where you had to solve a customer problem or overcome a personal challenge. What did you do? (Looking for resourcefulness)

How would you handle negative feedback from a customer? (Looking for a proactive player)

What do you do after a long day in the inbox handling negative inquiries? How do you handle it? (Make sure they are not disassociating, but are emotionally present)

These questions are a starting point to help you understand whether the candidate sees CX as a job or a calling.

9. Flexibility in Hiring: Consider Your Options

Not ready for a full-time CX hire?

No worries. Look for someone working part-time at a brand you admire—chances are, they'd be willing to devote a few extra hours to your startup.

Alternatively, consider hiring someone who can wear multiple hats, like operations and CX.

College students passionate about CX also make great part-time hires. They're often looking for practical experience and have the flexibility you need.

Pro tip: I’ve got a discord with 900+ CX’ers from your fav DTC brands, and we’ve got a handy dandy job board!

10. Quality Over Cost: The Economics of Good CX

You may be tempted to cut corners when it comes to hiring for CX but trust me, it's a false economy more often than not.

I've seen it too many times: a $5/hour agent might handle ten tickets an hour in a robotic fashion, while a $30/hour agent could manage 60 tickets with superior quality.

I’m not saying one way or the other; I’m just pleading with you to run the math on the heart and soul of your business–your CX.

By considering these factors, you're not just filling a position; you're making a strategic investment in your company's future.

Customer experience is the foundation upon which successful businesses are built.

Set yours on solid ground.

Before I go: JRB launched a Lip Pencil this week, and it’s already a fan favorite. Check it out here if you wish.

That’s it for this week!

Any topics you'd like to see me cover in the future?

Just shoot me a DM or an email!


Eli 💛