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I say again – phone your users

When our server monitoring product, Server Density, was in beta, I wrote about how well phoning the beta users worked in getting feedback. Now we’re out of beta I want to say it again in relation to all your users:

Phone them.

Due the nature of our server monitoring service, we have the phone numbers for a lot of users but even those that do not provide them can be located if they are using a company/personal domain that leads to a public phone listing on their site, or even their whois entry.

Don’t bother with e-mails. If we can’t find a phone number for the customer then we don’t bother getting in touch. A generic e-mail asking how they’re getting on will be ignored and probably considered spam. I usually delete these kind of messages myself so I know our users probably will too. It’s a little different if you’re asking a specific question (such as why they haven’t added any servers to be monitored yet) but even those messages get a very low response rate.

The majority of our users are using the free service but that is the first step on the path to upgrading to a paid account. On signup, a task is set up in our contact management system to contact that customer by phone to find out how it’s going. A quick call only takes a minute or two but leaves a lasting impression that you care about them, but also provides a good opportunity to discuss what they like, dislike and especially important, why they aren’t going to use the service (if that is the case).

Just got an international call from @boxedice about their server monitoring app Server Density. Respect for making this effort!

- Twitter

You’ll find that users are actually surprised to get a call from you, particularly if your service is free. Nobody else does it – take advantage of that stand out by proving you do provide exceptional customer support.

Can this approach scale as the user-base grows? Maybe, if you hire more staff. But that’s not the point – we’re still an early stage startup so the initial impression of our first few thousand users counts to build up the company reputation and drive traffic by word of mouth.

If you’re not phoning your customers, you should be.

  • http://trusst.co.uk David Laing

    I was definately surprised to get a call after signing up – and it definately made me come back and learn a bit more about the service.

    I’m thinking of trying this for my startup; do you have any tips as to when the best time to call; or what a good opening line is?

    • http://www.serverdensity.com David M

      You need to make sure you call during working hours in the timezone the user is in. Due to the nature of our alerts we often have the direct mobile number of the person who signed up, which helps a lot. I say “Hi, you signed up to our server monitoring service, Server Density, and I was wondering how you’re getting on.”