How Shane Ketterman Started a Social Customer Service Company

Erin,

As anyone with a social media account knows, customer service issues get more attention when shared publicly. And as any business knows, a quick response is the key to success when serving customers with questions and complaints.

Shane Ketterman launched Rewire Digital at the end of 2016 to address this very need. We talked to him about starting a social customer service company and blogging about his startup journey.

What inspired you to start Rewire Digital?

Back in 2010, I was working full-time in IT and getting an MBA. At the time, blogging was becoming far more mainstream as a way to earn an income through affiliate marketing, advertising, etc. I had this epiphany that I belonged in marketing, and even more so that I wanted to own my own company.

I started a content marketing blog and decided to run it like a business. I differentiated myself by answering every single comment on the blog personally — and that extended to Twitter and Facebook.

Much to my surprise, that differentiator caused the blog to grow to over 20,000 visitors a day! This growth was due to an early form of “social customer service,” and I’ll never forget how much of an impact that had on retaining readers and growing the brand. It was magical!

That experience of offering immediate social customer service changed my life, and along with the current demand from customers, inspired me to think about how I could build a world-class agency that did the very same thing for businesses. I wanted to build something that was highly focused – a first of its kind.

How did you determine your target market?

I determined my target market based on industry and size. The larger enterprises have internal teams that handle their social customer service. I decided I wanted to focus on mid-sized businesses, which could benefit immensely from offering social customer service, but that didn’t have the time, resources, or expertise to implement it.

We’re still in the midst of deciding if we should focus solely on financial, hospitality, or ecommerce as a further differentiator. We want to be the best at whatever we focus on.

How did you come up with your pricing model?

Pricing was interesting. We began by exploring a “per interaction” model, but when we looked at it from the perspective of the client, there were too many areas where it could get complex and confusing just because we do pre-emptive, proactive, and reacting social customer service.

We then arrived at a flat-fee model based on expected volume, and that can slide up or down. Additionally, it allows flexibility for clients and us as well. We like less friction for clients!

What were your biggest startup costs and considerations?

Drafting up legal contracts. You cannot do this type of work for clients and not have a lot of protections in place. We needed protections for our clients as well as our business.

The next cost was picking a platform to use for our social customer service work, and after that, I’d say it was time developing our own framework for doing customer service via social.

How did you get your first clients?

We’ve just launched, and are starting the process of marketing our services to potential clients.

This is a very interesting business because it’s based on a lot of trust, and we want clients who will embrace social customer experience and build a partnership with us. As much as the client will interview us, we’ll interview them as well.

Why did you decide to blog about your startup journey on Medium?

I decided to blog about this journey to inspire others. People want to change the world, but they don’t always know how to get there. As much as I can, I help by showing how I’m making that attempt and I see that as a positive thing.

Additionally, it holds me accountable and builds a community — I like that!

What online tools do you use to run your business?

I use a social media customer service platform, WordPress, Zapier, Slack, Google Docs/Sheets, Skype, Google Analytics, QuickBooks, Basecamp, and Atlassian Confluence. I’m evaluating sales platforms as well.

Why did you decide to design your own logo rather than hiring a designer?

I decided to design my own logo because I wanted to be creative and not spend thousands of dollars — time was also a factor. There were many “online logo maker” platforms, but nothing was quite as incredible as Logojoy.

I was a little hesitant, of course, because you want to make sure you’re doing your brand justice and you don’t want to make a mistake displaying it to the world.

But I feel that I made the perfect choice. For anyone else starting out, it’s great to have this option, especially if you want to save money and have something that looks professionally designed.

Rewire Digital logo


What tips or advice would you have for people wanting to start an online, service-based business?

My tip would be to make sure there’s a market with a real need. Do lean market validation before spending a lot of money, and then, based on your validation, do the work and don’t lose focus. That’s one thing I’m learning: stay focused and do the work – after you grow, you can explore other additional services or features, etc.

My biggest tip: Don’t give up and don’t get caught up in the little details that stop you from offering your services.

What are your goals for the year ahead?

Growth and culture — they go hand-in-hand. Building an incredible team with an amazing culture of caring, innovation, and empowerment will build even stronger client relationships.

The better we are, the better off our clients will be. My goal is to have 20 clients and a thriving team; we’d also like to contribute to helping educate those in need.

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