If you’re a startup founder and you haven’t quite thought about customer support, you’re not alone. A recent survey of startup founders and decision-makers shows that less than ⅓ have a formal strategy for support in place. But, data shows that the fast-growing startups not only thinking about customer experience but actually integrating it into their bigger company strategy early on.

So what is customer experience (CX) and when should you start investing in it?

CX is just as it sounds — the experience and journey your customers have when interacting with your products, services, and company. When a startup has a solid CX strategy in place, it means they can anticipate customers’ needs and solve problems quickly and proactively with the right tools. And according to the Zendesk 2020 CX Benchmark for Startups, research shows that the sooner you start thinking about and prioritizing your customers, the better off you’ll be. Good customer service translates to happy, loyal customers for years to come!

It pays to start early

We looked at over 4,400 startups using Zendesk, and the data was clear. Fast-growing startups are quicker to adopt tools like Zendesk Support and integrate communication channels early to ensure a seamless experience for inquiring customers. These startups understand that it is important to be where their customers are, whether that’s on social messaging apps like WhatsApp or Twitter to email, chat, or phone. We call that an omnichannel approach. As a result, you’ll be responding to customers faster and more efficiently than competitors, and your customers will have an easier time connecting with you.

Fast-growing startups prioritize support early on in their CX success.

Work smarter, not harder

Fast-growing startups also employ more support tools, such as AI and automation, to streamline operations across their entire workflow. In fact, small, fast-growing teams do so with 2.8 times as many workflow tools as their slower growth counterparts. Because of this, they are able to do more with less. This thinking helps to set a protocol that prepares any team for early success. From collecting more data on customer issues to ensuring that urgent customer inquiries make it to the right support agent at the right time, these efforts help you stretch existing resources so your team can stay lean and agile.

“The key to startup growth isn’t just automating time-consuming manual work, but also scaling out processes across the entire organization to convert more leads, win more deals, respond more quickly to customer requests, and do more, faster.”

— Rich Waldron, CEO and co-founder of Tray.io

Put your customers first

It may seem obvious that putting your customers first is good for business. Still, we find that startups who put this in practice grow more quickly than those who don’t. We learned from the companies using Zendesk that have gone on to become unicorns were 37 percent more likely to offer omnichannel customer service, 38 percent more likely to have rolled out chat, and 48 percent more likely to have phone support. The data clearly shows that fast-growing startups who put more time and effort into their support operations early on see faster resolution times which leads to a better experience overall for their agents and customers.

So how can you do the same? Here are a CX few benchmarks that you can borrow from fast-growing startups:

How do I put my startup on a path for CX success?

There’s no magic formula for faster-growth, but there are obviously clear benefits from providing better customer experiences. Good customer service drives growth for startups.

To achieve this, do your research early and choose the right support platform — one that is easy to use and can scale as you grow. Next, adopt an omnichannel approach that prioritizes how your customer reaches out to you today in addition to how they would prefer to reach out to you so that you don’t miss interactions. You can also use self-help features like FAQs and help center articles to solve customer problems fast. Finally, always be searching for more efficient workflows and processes so that your team’s productivity won’t be compromised.

If you want to learn more about how you should build and set-up a CX strategy, the Zendesk for Startups Program can help. Startups like yourself can get access to our exclusive community of founders and partners for strategic advice, and get set up for CX success quickly with our customer support, sale and engagement solutions for free for six months.

Originally published at https://medium.com/