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Brex and Zendesk crunched their customer data and created a presentation to help startups jolted by crashing sales. Here's what they learned.

Roli Saxena chief customer officer brex
  • Brex, the fintech startup that sells primarily to other startups, just shared its framework for handling customer support during the economic crisis.
  • Many startups have been advised by investors and advisors to cut costs and extend their runway, but without clear guidance on how to do so while maintaining customer relationships.
  • In an analysis of startup data, Brex found that those with the best chance of successfully retaining customers, and therefore retaining revenue streams, was to standardize the customer experience process.
  • See the playbook and guidelines Brex just released together with HR startup Zendesk.
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Fintech startup Brex has advice for other startups struggling through the economic crisis: It may be difficult to sell your wares to new customers right now, but there are things you can do to get more from the customers you already have.
Brex, which provides credit cards to startups, analyzed data from its own customers and worked with HR company Zendesk to produce a set of customer service and support guidelines. The idea of the project, which the companies presented this month in one Brex's ongoing series of webinars, is to provide insight and actionable tips that can help young businesses jolted by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Brex and Zendesk, customer service is a vital skill that more startups would do well to focus on.
"We really have to change our mindset in this moment away from selling and towards retention by trying to find growth, if possible, through that existing customer base that we have," Zendesk vice president of startups Kristen Durham said.
That's important because sales prospects are bleak for a lot of startups, especially those that cater to sectors hard hit by the virus.
"One of the things that really has been striking for us is some of this data around the fact that businesses are no longer selling," Durham said. "Sales teams are sending about 50 percent more emails to prospects than they were pre-COVID but the responses just keep dropping."
The drop in raw sales numbers is a scary situation for startups that have been advised by their investors to cut costs and extend their runways. Without much guidance on how exactly to make that happen, startup founders are walking something of a tightrope — if revenue drops off, they might have to resort to executive salary cuts or layoffs just to stay upright.
Keeping customers happy is as important as keeping employees happy, Brex chief customer officer Roli Saxena said, and requires founders to employ similar tactics to sales, such transparent communication. Overall, startups need to have a standardized plan in place to make it through the rough waters ahead, and out the other side, Saxena said.

Here is the customer service and support strategy Brex developed with Zendesk.

SEE ALSO: See the deck that top growth-stage investor Insight Partners is using to prepare its founder network to weather a prolonged economic downturn



































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