How To Create A Winning SaaS Support Strategy
When it comes to the SaaS business model, it’s not just about getting as many customers as you want. The real battle is in keeping them.
In fact, retaining your users is more important than getting new ones.
Don’t get me wrong, though. Acquiring more users is still a critical factor in a SaaS company’s growth. But the thing is, it’s way easier (and cheaper) to keep a SaaS customer than to acquire a new one.
So once you already have customers, you need to put in the effort to keep them.
Your marketing, sales, and other customer acquisition efforts still need to keep rolling. But when you need to choose between customer acquisition and retention, retention has to have more weight.
Now, there are a lot of factors that affect customer retention. There are many different departments at work.
And one of them is customer support.
In this article, we will discuss how you can create a SaaS support strategy that will help you keep your customers.
What Is Customer Support?
Customer support, also known as customer service, is the department or team that helps your users with their inquiries and problems. They are the ones who provide assistance regarding your SaaS product.
The main goal of customer support is to ensure customer satisfaction. And they do this by providing prompt and accurate solutions to the user’s problems.
A SaaS company’s customer service has to be top-notch because SaaS products are usually subscription-based. This means that customers can cancel their subscriptions at any time. And if they’re not happy with the SaaS solution, they will definitely do so.
It’s important to note that customer support is different from customer success.
Customer success is more focused on helping the customer achieve their goals with the product. They make sure that the customer is using the product correctly and taking full advantage of its features.
Both customer support and customer success are important for SaaS companies. But in this article, we will focus on customer support.
Now that we know what customer support is, let’s discuss its various components.
Components Of SaaS Customer Support
The first step in creating a SaaS support strategy is to identify the various components of customer support.
These include the following:
- The Right People
- The Right Tools
- Helpful Resources
- Your Own Customer Support Philosophy
The Right People
The customer support team is composed of different people with different roles.
The most important members of the team are the front-line support representatives. They are the ones who directly interact with the customers.
They need to have excellent communication skills. They should be able to empathize with the customer and understand their problem. They should also be patient and never get easily frustrated.
Aside from front-line support representatives, there are also other members of the team who play important roles.
There are those who develop training materials for new support reps. There are also those who come up with knowledge solutions to common problems. And there are managers who oversee everyone and make sure that everything is running smoothly.
It’s important to have the right mix of people in your customer support team.
The Right Tools
Tools play an important role in customer service. They help representatives do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.
The tools you are going to need may largely depend on what support channels you are using.
But some of the most important tools for SaaS customer support are the following:
Help Desk Software: This is a software solution that SaaS companies use to manage customer tickets. It includes features like automated ticket routing, ticket assignment, and service-level agreement (SLA) management.
Live Chat Software: This tool allows SaaS companies to provide live chat support to their customers. This is important for addressing minor issues or answering quick questions.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Software: This tool allows SaaS companies to make and receive phone calls using an internet connection rather than a regular phone line. This is important for SaaS companies that offer phone support.
Resource Management Software: This tool helps SaaS companies manage their customer service resources and representatives. It includes features like shift planning, vacation scheduling, and performance tracking.
Another important component of customer support is resources.
This includes things like knowledge bases, training materials, and FAQs.
These resources help support representatives resolve customer issues more quickly and efficiently.
They also help reduce the number of tickets that come in by providing answers to common questions.
And lastly, they help improve the quality of support by providing accurate and up-to-date information.
Your Own Customer Support Philosophy
The last component of customer service is philosophy.
This is not usually presented as one of the key components of a SaaS customer support strategy. But your philosophy sets the tone for a lot of other things in your customer service processes.
Your customer support philosophy defines how your team works and how they interact with your customers. It sets the culture in your customer support department.
Your philosophy should be aligned with the culture and values of your company. And it should be something that you and your team are passionate about.
Some SaaS companies have customer service philosophies that focus on the customer experience. Others focus on first contact resolution. And still, others focus on speed and efficiency.
The important thing is that you have a philosophy that works for you, your team, and your customers.
SaaS Support Channels
Now that we’ve discussed the components of SaaS customer support, let’s talk about the different channels that you can use to provide that support.
The most common SaaS support channels are:
- Live Chat
But there are also other types of platforms that can serve as customer support channels. These include:
- Social Media
- User Review Sites
- Online Communities
Let’s talk about these channels one by one.
Email is the most common SaaS support channel. It’s also one of the easiest to set up and manage.
With email, customers can send their questions or concerns to your support team. And they can do this at any time of day or night.
One advantage of using email as a SaaS support channel is that it allows you to keep a written record of all customer interactions. This is important for quality assurance and training purposes.
Another advantage of email is that it’s asynchronous. This means that representatives can take their time to craft thoughtful and accurate responses
However, one downside of email is that it can be hard to provide an immediate response to customers.
This is because representatives have to wait for an email to come in before they can start working on it.
Or the customer might shoot you an email in the middle of the night and your reps won’t be able to respond till the morning. Unless you’re offering 24/7 customer service.
The second most common SaaS support channel is phone calls.
Phone support is important because it allows customers to get an immediate response to their questions or concerns.
This is important for addressing time-sensitive issues. It’s also important for building relationships with customers.
One advantage of using the phone as a SaaS support channel is that it allows you to provide personal service to your customers. This personal touch can go a long way in building customer loyalty.
Another advantage of using the phone as a SaaS support channel is that it’s easy to set up and manage.
However, one downside of this customer support channel is that it can be expensive. This is because you have to pay for the phone lines or a VoIP solution if you want to use that tool.
You also have to factor in the cost of missed calls. This is when a customer calls your support line but no one is available to answer the call.
The third most common (and getting increasingly popular) SaaS support channel is live chat.
Like phone support, live chat is widely used because it also allows customers to get an immediate response to their questions or concerns. It’s also a lot easier to shoot a message than to craft a full-fledged email.
What’s more, live chat support is convenient for customers because they can chat with representatives while they’re working on other tasks.
Like in phone support, live chat allows you to interface with your customer one on one, and thereby deliver personalized service.
Another advantage of using live chat as a SaaS support channel is that there are a lot of online tools that can help you get started with it. You can use software like the Zendesk live chat tool or Drift.
However, one downside to it is that it can be challenging to offer 24/7 support. Again, it’s up to you and your philosophy (and budget) whether or not you would provide round-the-clock support access.
Social media is another platform that is getting used more and more as a customer service channel.
Firstly, the messaging tools within these platforms can serve as live chat support channels.
Take Facebook for example. Customers can simply contact your company profile through messenger and air out their problems regarding your SaaS product.
Secondly, social media posts themselves could be customer support inquiries. It’s more commonly seen on Twitter where SaaS users tweet about their issues and then mention the SaaS software providers to get their attention.
The advantage of using social media as a SaaS support channel is that it’s free. You don’t have to pay for the phone lines or a VoIP solution.
Moreover, you can reach a wider audience through social media. Your customers might not think to contact you through email or live chat, but they’re more likely to post about their issues on Twitter or Facebook.
What’s more, resolving technical issues and documenting them on a public post can be an opportunity to build your brand. Not just to your current customer. But to everyone who sees the post.
After all, it’s all there out in public. If you do a great job addressing their concerns, you get to show off your awesome customer support team.
IF you do a great job.
If you don’t, others still will be able to see it. But it won’t be pretty. It can rather hurt your brand.
So when your SaaS support interactions are out in public, make sure that the service you provide is nothing short of excellent.
One downside of using social media as a SaaS support channel is that it can be hard to keep track of all the posts and tweets. So you might need additional social media management tools to help you with that.
User Review Sites
There are customers who leave comprehensive reviews that will really get you thinking and acting on improvements to your SaaS product.
But there are also those that write negative reviews about simple issues that could have been addressed with a support call.
That’s when you can leverage user review sites as customer support channels.
If you see that a user has left a negative review, you can reach out to them and try to resolve the issue they’re having.
Like social media, these interactions are also out in public.
So not only will you be addressing your existing customer’s concern. But you can also show anyone who visits that reviews page that you’re committed to providing outstanding customer service.
However, the stakes are higher on this platform. On social media, your followers may just randomly see your support conversations
But review site visitors are there for the sole purpose of evaluating a SaaS product they are interested in.
And for many SaaS users, customer support quality is one of the biggest considerations when or not to buy a particular SaaS solution.
If they see that you were able to flip a negative review with stellar customer service, that would work out well for you. But if you fail to do so, your potential customers are going to note that.
Another advantage of using user review sites as SaaS support channels is that you can build relationships with customers who are leaving positive reviews. You can even offer them incentives for writing reviews, such as discounts or freebies.
The disadvantage of using user review sites as SaaS support channels is that not all users will be receptive to your attempts to reach out. Some might just want to vent their frustrations and not actually engage in a dialogue.
Another platform where you could take your customer service efforts is online SaaS communities.
Having an online community for your users is a great way to build loyalty and even advocacy among your existing customers.
One of the main purposes of SaaS communities is peer-to-peer support. If you have a Facebook group, a Slack channel, or a Discord server, you might find your customers airing out their concerns there.
But remember that this is a platform for peer-to-peer support. So you shouldn’t be the only one providing support.
Encourage your customers to help each other out, especially if it’s just simple problems. You can still pitch in if they missed something.
But for more complex problems, you might take matters into your own hands, so to speak. You can let them know that they can tag you on their posts if they need your customer support team’s attention.
The advantage of using SaaS communities as a SaaS support channel is that it’s another way to build relationships with your customers.
It’s also a great way to get feedback about your product since people are more likely to speak their minds in a community setting.
The disadvantage of using SaaS communities as a SaaS support channel is that it can be hard to keep track of all the conversations.
SaaS Customer Support Best Practices
Now that we’ve gone over the different SaaS support channels, let’s talk about some SaaS customer support best practices.
Build A Thorough Knowledge Base
One of the best SaaS customer support strategies is to have a thorough and up-to-date knowledge base.
Your knowledge base should be comprehensive enough that your customers can find answers to their questions without needing to contact your customer support team.
But it shouldn’t be so comprehensive that it’s confusing. You may organize your pages and links in a way that customers can browse them per category.
The goal is for your knowledge base to be a self-service support tool that’s easy for your customers to access and navigate.
To do this, you need to make sure that your articles are well-written and organized. Make sure to include screenshots or screen recordings in order to better explain the concepts.
You should also include a search function on your knowledge base so that your customers can easily find what they’re looking for.
What’s more, you also need to keep your knowledge base up-to-date with the latest changes to your product.
Personalize Your Messaging
Another SaaS customer support strategy is to personalize your messaging.
This means that you should address your customers by name and use language that’s appropriate for them.
For example, if you have a B2B SaaS product, you might use more formal language in your customer support messages than if you had a B2C SaaS product.
You should also avoid using jargon or technical terms in your customer support messages. Not everyone will be familiar with the terminology.
And even if they are, it might just confuse them more.
Instead, use plain language that anyone can understand.
Additionally, you should try to match the tone of your customer’s message. If they’re angry, don’t respond with anger. If they’re being sarcastic, don’t take their message at face value.
The goal is to build a rapport with your customers and show that you’re empathizing with them.
Make Your Support Widget Easy To Find
Your SaaS product might have a support widget that allows your customers to contact customer support without leaving the app.
If you have a support widget, make sure that it’s easy for your customers to find.
The last thing you want is for your customers to not be able to find your support widget when they need it.
One way to do this is to put the support widget in the same place on every page of your app. That way, your customers will always know where to find it.
Another way to make sure that your users can find your support widget is to use a pop-up window.
You can set up a pop-up window so that it appears when your customers click on a certain button or link.
For example, you can have a pop-up window appear when your customers click on the “contact us” button on your website.
Or you can have a pop-up window appear when your customers click on the “live chat” icon in your app.
Set Reasonable Response Times
When you’re setting up your SaaS support channel, you need to set reasonable response times.
Your customers should know how long it will take for them to get a response from your customer support team.
And you should do your best to stick to those response times.
If you can’t meet your response times, make sure to let your customers know why and apologize for the inconvenience.
Additionally, you should try to over-deliver your response times.
For example, if you say that you’ll respond to customer support messages within 24 hours, try to respond within 12 hours.
This will show your customers that you’re serious about customer support and that you’re doing your best to resolve their issues as quickly as possible.
Automate Repetitive Tasks
There are certain tasks that customer support representatives do on a daily basis.
For example, they might need to send the same message to multiple customers or they might need to follow up with users after a certain amount of time.
These tasks can be automated so that your customer support representatives can focus on more important tasks.
There are a few different ways that you can automate repetitive tasks.
Automation Tools: One way to automate repetitive tasks is to use automation tools.
These tools allow you to automate tasks by connecting different SaaS products together.
For example, you can use Zapier to automatically send a follow-up message to a user after they’ve contacted customer support.
Or you can use IFTTT to automatically add users who contact customer support to a follow-up list.
Scripts: Scripts are pre-written responses that customer support representatives can use when responding to users.
But be careful not to sound robotic or manufactured while doing so. Make it sound natural and organic.
Your customers should still feel that they are talking to a human who can understand their concerns.
And remember the importance of personalizing your messages.
Scripts can help you respond a lot faster and with less effort. But personalization connects with the customer and builds that rapport with them.
So the best thing to do is to get the best of both worlds and come up with a highly personalized response made faster with a script.
Chatbots: Chatbots are computer programs that simulate human conversations.
They can be used to handle simple customer support tasks, like sending a relevant knowledge base article to a customer or following up with them after a certain amount of time.
But you should still give your chatbots the ability to direct customers to a live agent. Some issues are just too complex to cover with a knowledge base article or an FAQ. So always give your customers the option to talk to a support rep.
Track The Right Metrics
When you’re running a SaaS business, it’s important to track the right metrics.
There are a number of different SaaS metrics that you can track. But not all of them are relevant to customer support.
Here are some customer support metrics that you should track:
Average First Response Time: This is the average amount of time it takes for your customer support team to respond to a user’s message.
Average Resolution Time: This is the average amount of time it takes for your customer support team to resolve a user’s issue.
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score: This metric measures how satisfied your users are with your customer service.
To get your CSAT score, you can add a short survey to your SaaS support process. Once the issue is resolved, you can ask your customers to rate the service they received from 1 to 5.
To calculate your overall score, you can count how many gave a rating of 4 or 5 and get the percentage.
Net Promoter Score (NPS): This metric measures how likely your customers are to recommend your SaaS product to others.
Like CSAT, finding your NPS score involves asking your customer a question before ending your support conversations with them.
To get your NPS, you ask your customers to rate their likelihood of recommending your SaaS product to others on a scale from 1 to 10.
You can then group the responses into three categories: Detractors (score 0 to 6), Passives (score 7 to 8), and Promoters (score 9 to 10)
To get your overall score, you can subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters.
This will give you a number between -100 (all are detractors) and 100 (all are promoters). And that would be your NPS.
Final Thoughts On SaaS Customer Support
Customer support is an important part of any SaaS business. It’s the first line of defense against churn and it can help you build a better relationship with your customers.
Creating a good SaaS support strategy is essential to the success of your business. With the right support team, tools, channels, and practices, your users will be happier and will stay for a longer time.
If you want more guides and strategies to grow your SaaS business, check out our blog here.