How Customer Service Drove One Startup's Business Model

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For young companies, top-notch customer support creates the most value.

By Laura Behrens Wu (Founder & CEO, Shippo)

This is part of a series from one of our How To Conference speakers. Laura Behrens Wu spoke on our panel How to Create Value with the Right Business Model. 

It’s no easy feat for a seed-stage company to find a business model that suits its founders, employees, investors, and, most importantly, its customers. The right business models are most often a result of trial and error, continuous implementation and response to customers’ needs.

I gave a talk about this at the Women 2.0 How-To Conference last fall here in San Francisco. Many of the women in attendance were early-stage entrepreneurs, like myself, who had also recently launched their own companies. Now, as Shippo has passed its first anniversary, I’m reflecting a lot on the early days of Shippo and the business models we iterated on to get to where we are today.

In its most basic form, a business model is a plan for the successful operation of an enterprise. It’s also an architecture crafted around the core value proposition. All startups go through frequent business model pivots. Some are minor, some are monumental, but they’re all a part of honing in on figuring out what your company is going to be the very best at. I believe that for young companies, top-notch customer support creates the most value – both for your company and your customers.

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Over the past year, I’ve been asked many questions about how we’ve managed to grow Shippo as quickly as we have. Since the first label created on our platform in Feb ‘14, millions of packages have now been processed using Shippo’s software. Despite people’s guesses, this phenomenal growth came not because we landed on the right business model on day one. It’s also not because we released an amazing product on day one. In fact, in hindsight, our product and growth at the beginning were not impressive.

The reason we have the traction we do now is because we went out of our way to provide the best customer support experience possible for our earliest customers. Our learnings equipped us with knowledge we needed to define our business model element by element: our target customer, their key pain points, and the core of our solution, all towards the end of determining the foundation of our value.

Customer service remains to be the backbone of our business. We continue to sharpen our customer toolkit. I want to share our learnings and insights with you through a series of posts about customer service on this blog. I’m excited to start the conversation and look forward to hearing your perspectives in the comments!

This post originally appeared on the Shippo blog


About the guest blogger: Laura Behrens Wu is the founder and CEO of Shippo. Shippo simplifies shipping for e-commerce companies by offering discounted shipping rates and a streamlined solution across all different shipping providers. It provides Amazon-level logistics for e-commerce stores, marketplaces, and platforms. Laura is proud to be a first-time founder, currently leading a team of 14 people at Shippo. Prior to founding Shippo, Laura worked at LendUp and was educated at the University of St. Gallen & Harvard College. Follow her on Twitter at @laurabehrenswu.