Innovation Blog

Taking on Dunbar: One Startups Pursuit for…

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Here at Bootstrap Compost, we often reference Dunbars number and its effect on our relationships with our clients. Dunbar’s number is a suggested cognitive limit to the amount of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. Most estimate Dunbars number lies between 100 and 230, with 150 the common go-to.
It was back in January 2011 that Bootstrap Compost was founded by Andy Brooks, with cart in hand, a handful of clients and an idea to help folks divert their food scraps from landfills. Those were the good old days. Brooks was a phone call away and problems were quickly resolved via personal text messages, emails or G-chat.
Today, Bootstrap serves over 300 residential and a dozen commercial clients. Although we try, we understand those days of Brooks providing a personal customer service touch are nearing their end. Dunbars number has long set in effect.
We are grateful that weve grown as quickly as we have. But growth brings the challenges of alleviating growing pains by delegating tasks to new employees. So how can we make sure to preserve the +1 customer service that Bootstrap Compost was built on?
It starts from within. Weve been careful to develop a company culture that staff can easily buy into. Not only does every Bootstrap Compost employee understand the company mission, but they take pride in working to make that missions succeed. At the forefront of Bootstraps mission is our clientele. I always say that our company mantra is Satisfaction Guaranteed.   
Bootstrap client satisfaction runs two ways. The client should feel fundamentally satisfied about reducing their waste footprint; they should also feel satisfied in the service itself. On our end, that means promptly – and often patiently – responding to dozens of inquiries: No maam, your sons diapers are not compostable, being just one of many.
Speaking of inquiries, external systems can help streamline customer service. For instance, we are rolling out an online FAQ system. Weve been planning for a while, but, you see, its hard to know the questions that your clientele frequently asks if you dont take the time to let them ask the questions first. Thus, a waiting period was necessary. Rounding out the FAQ section will be a questions or suggestions box, with a drop down menu to direct the clients question to the appropriate department. For example, a subscriber with a payment issue will be able to direct his question to our billing guy.                                           
Bootstrap Compost hopes to be serving thousands of clients in the coming years. As we look to scale, were counting on a combination of internal culture and external systems to allow us to continue having stable social relationships with our clients. Dunbars number be damned! 

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