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Bootstrapped and with happy clients – how this startup does it all

Not many companies can combine high customers satisfaction while being bootstrapped. Here's how Lokalise does it.

Not many companies can say that they hold the top customer satisfaction score in their industry, let alone doing it without any external investments (aka being “bootstrapped”).

Lokalise is a rare case of a startup that has managed to do both – despite having to make realistic financial decisions about where they allocate their money, making their customers happy has remained a priority. For many companies, this would mean that funds are funneled to what is considered the most important operations – and usually, that isn’t customer satisfaction.

So what’s their secret? How are they maintaining a simultaneously high level of customer satisfaction, as well as a high level of product development, while having to be smart about where they spend their money?

We spoke to the team to get down to every bit of it. Here’s how they do it:

Each new hire starts with support

Every time a new employee is hired, even if they’re hired to a completely unrelated field, they are required to start with a few weeks of customer support.

Yes, that’s right. Even developers and accountants.

Benefits:

  • They get to better understand the product – you can’t explain what you don’t know. This serves as a quick immersion into the product.
  • To get to know the client they’re serving better – if they’re building the product, they have first-hand experience with them and their needs. They can then better do their job, be it in sales, marketing or development.
  • They uncover issues – when you’re served with queries, you get a look at the shortcomings of the product, and as a result, can work to improve it immediately as you begin work in your real position.

Based on these benefits, it’s clear that starting an employee off with customer support gives them a head up when starting in the new customer.

Besides helping them with their daily tasks, this improved employee onboarding can also have a positive impact on revenue growth and employee retention. The Boston Consulting Group found that the onboarding of new hires + retention yielded 2.5x the revenue growth and 1.9x the profit margin compared to companies less adept at onboarding.

Everyone does customer support

Regardless of your position, all employees are expected to occasionally hop onto the support chat tool. Even the CEO.

The CEO has made his growth strategy clear:

The key to success and growth is to have the happiest customers.

Nick Ustinov, Lokalise founder

As a result, it has become a matter of priority that all employees get a feeling for the customers and what they need.

And this isn’t just made up. A study of 100,000 companies found that the most successful companies had one thing in common – they prioritized customer experience. For Lokalise, by prioritizing happy customers through excellent support, they’re doing just that. Other companies, such as Zapier, also encourage what they call “all hands support” to set them apart.

Benefits:

  • Even higher-ups and senior employees are able to connect with users about their daily tasks – this keeps the entire team aligned with the needs of the customers
  • Breeds trust among the team – considering that no one is “too good” for customer support. This demonstrates that the team is as one, horizontal

Users participate in new feature definition

A key aspect of ensuring that Lokalise has the happiest customers is that they allow the users to vote  the next features to be developed. From a user’s perspective, instead of being confronted with the frustration of not having a certain feature they want, they’re able to pour that frustration into suggesting the feature or upvoting existing features. This psychological moment lets the user do something, rather than feel blocked.

On the same feature submission and voting page, users can also see which features have been moved to the “planned” stage, demonstrating that their votes have not gone unnoticed.

Benefits:

  • Provides users with a sense of ownership that encourages loyalty
  • Gets them the product that they want and need
  • Feels like needs are heard
  • Diffuses tension

Additionally, by allowing customers to define the next features, this lets the company skip the validation stage of product development and dive directly into solving users’ problems.

A customer-centric approach doesn’t have to be expensive

As we see in the case of Lokalise, it’s possible to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction without an influx of millions of investors cash to float the company.

Through a customer-centric approach to employee onboarding and daily support, Lokalise is able to get the entire team on the same page in terms of customer needs and how they actually use the product.

Their feature request system, meanwhile, allows their users to make their desires known in a public space, which are also then acknowledged by the founders when those features are put into the product development pipeline.

Altogether, we see that it doesn’t have to take much money to maintain happy customers, but it does take a lot of love and support from the team to keep them that way.

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