Customer support is a sink or swim situation for all businesses, without exception.
However plain and simple your product or service is, there will always be someone who needs help with it. When you can’t be there on time and help effectively, that’s when you sink. And I mean the whole company.
This is because customer support is almost always the only time your customers get to interact with you directly, if not for the sales process in the very beginning. If you fail to impress there, it’s way worse than having a poorly designed product.
The customers can always solve their product-oriented problems through customer support but they can’t solve their customer support-related problems anywhere. That’s why you need to excel at the customer support part of your business.
SaaS and Customer Support
Customer support is just as important for SaaS businesses as it is for PaaS businesses or any other business, if not more.
It is hard to overlook customer support when 90% of customers say customer support is important for brand loyalty. Isn’t it the ultimate SaaS dream to have loyal customers?
But before we dive any deeper, let’s make sure all terms sit right in our heads.
What exactly is SaaS, again?
SaaS, also known as Software as a Service, is a software licensing method with which you subscribe for a membership to access cloud-based tools. Since SaaS is something you can access anywhere with an internet connection, it has been the main focus of the business world for decades now.
In fact, we are surrounded by million-dollar SaaS companies in our everyday lives: Netflix, Zoom, Slack, and Grammarly are just some of them, but it must be enough to prove the success of SaaS, as well as its importance.
How to define SaaS customer support?
SaaS customer support is the type of customer support provided by SaaS companies. This means there is need for more tendency toward better technologies and more agile tools in order to better serve customers as well as answer to their needs immeadiately. SaaS customer support is also defined by more agile, more accesible, and more effective; all in all better service.
How is SaaS Support different?
Since SaaS is not really tangible and pretty much non-deliverable, SaaS customer support is obviously not your run-of-the-mill customer support.
Although almost all customer support best practices apply to SaaS customer support, there is one fact about SaaS that changes the whole support experience: SaaS means your product is a tool that needs to be learned.
Of course, this mostly applies to B2B (business to business) SaaS companies rather than B2C (business to customer) SaaS, which requires relatively less customer support optimization since B2C software needs to be way simpler than B2B.
For example, you can find solutions for a Spotify bug online, but it’s a different case when the product at hand is more sophisticated, like UserGuiding.
Still, this doesn’t change the fact that it is crucial for all SaaS companies (especially B2B) to have customer support that can immediately solve customer problems, better if it’s 24/7 live support. Because people won’t sell their iPhones if they can’t reach Apple’s customer support but they just might switch to your competitor if you can’t help them immediately.
SaaS customer support has its differences alright but is it really that different compared to any other company’s customer support? Isn’t there a common area between SaaS support and regular customer support?
I say there is. Let’s look at the standards of good customer support that apply to all types of support.
Common Elements of Good Customer Support
Strip away all the fancy concepts surrounding customer support and you will have one main focus: customer satisfaction.
It is not the easiest task to satisfy customer needs, but it is easy enough to see what might satisfy them. And when it comes to customer support, it is three things: accessibility, speed, and effectiveness.
No matter the business approach or the product type, it is crucial that you make sure your customers can easily reach you.
One common mistake that most companies make when designing their website is taking it for granted that everyone will be able to find the “support” or “contact us” button. We just can’t. I am an adult who grew up with a smartphone in her hand, and even I can’t.
So, one simple step you can take for the sake of accessibility is to make sure you have a visible button for customer support as soon as the visitors enter the website. Even better, a chatbot.
I thought it was annoying to receive chatbot messages at first, but now seeing that tiny circle jump around in the right foot of the screen gives me AI fever.
They are not only easy to reach but they also make the whole experience more accessible thanks to clearcut directions. Take Zoom’s bot, Bolt for example.
Of course, this is only one step. Once you get this done, you can go on to optimize the rest of your customer support page and make your customers aware that you can support them through other channels too.
When 90% of customers say an immediate response is important when it comes to customer service, you just have to deliver. And according to HubSpot’s research, immediate means 10 minutes or less.
Of course, we would expect speed to be important since we are also customers ourselves and happen to care about a quick reply a lot. But imagine this in a business context, which is what B2B businesses have to deal with every day, and you will see just how important speed is.
For our individual SaaS purchases, we mostly pay really inexpensive numbers, but for business, the price for one single tool reaches hundreds of dollars, even for startups.
That’s exactly why customers’ patience gets thinner and thinner: they expect customer service fit for the price. Especially when they are having a problem that can affect their whole company if not looked into immediately.
Still, it is important to remember that not all companies can offer 24/7 live support, even some bigger companies can’t. So, it is important to help customers find solutions on their own before they need the immediate help of a customer support representative. Online communities, forum pages, and FAQs help a good deal if you can’t afford to go 24/7 on live support or when you just want to help your customers help themselves.
We know how much speed matters, now take this: 95% of customers think effective support is more important than speed.
And I don’t doubt it. If I was asked whether I would want quick but vague support or high-quality support after a bit of wait; I would for sure pick the latter. Sadly, most of the time it is easier to provide fast support than effective support. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- Unknowledgeable customer support representative
- Customer not being able to identify the real problem and ask the right questions
- Not having the right tools to access, view, or see customer experience
Obviously, it is the customer support representative’s responsibility to offer effective support no matter what. So, it all boils down to hiring the right members. great customer support representatives don’t grow on trees but once you find the right person to lead the team, you will be raising great reps real soon.
3 Vital Tips to Provide the Best Customer Support in SaaS
As we have discussed so far, SaaS customer support isn’t necessarily very different from any other customer support. It still needs to abide by the 3 fundamental elements of customer support and make sure to put customer satisfaction at the very core of goals.
But at the same time, SaaS customer support has its own requirements to function well. I have sought these requirements day and night and finally came up with three fundamental tips that will leverage your SaaS customer support right up.
1. Understand the advantages of live chat
If you are comfortable with talking on the phone with a random person what I am about to say may shock you. According to Kayako’s study, only 32% of customers prefer customer support via phone calls; 41% prefer live chat, and the rest is 23% email and 3% social media.
Knowing how phone calls dominated customer support in the past years, this piece of data was a shocker to me. And apparently, it was a shocker to some companies too as 42% of companies think customers prefer phone calls.
However, also knowing that the millennials (and some of Gen Z) have been joining the workforce, I see what is going on now.
It is clear to see that the newer generations are here to change tradition, and the dominance of call centers won’t be an exception, it seems. What SaaS businesses can do is improvise, adapt and overcome: Get a live chat option!
Here’s the thing though: according to Zendesk’s research on customer satisfaction, the live chat customer satisfaction rate is 85%, while the phone call’s rate is 91%. Live chat could possibly be better than phone calls at some point, but phone calls still hold the lead.
Still, live chat may offer way more for your business. Here is just three of the many advantages of a live chat:
- By using live chat you can have written data on each support session and can identify common problems easier.
- You can filter through problems by offering a session with the live chat at first and proceeding with a phone call for the most urgent and complicated customer problems.
- You can have your customers talk to a chatbot before being transferred to the live chat so that the customers don’t have to talk to an actual person for the smallest questions. Combine it with what’s above, you have a step-by-step customer support experience.
2. Equip the support team with the necessary tools
From chat tools to knowledge base software, there are many types of customer support tools businesses might need. But when it is SaaS, this need is doubled. And even tripled, if it is B2B SaaS.
The thing about SaaS customer support is that you can possibly get away with a lack of proper tools when your product is not software but with SaaS, it is almost impossible.
This has many reasons:
- For most customers, a customer support representative should be able to view and confirm customer profile for a better support experience
- The customers’ problems may be too technical and could require online conferencing or remote access to customers’ devices
- Customer feedback is crucial in SaaS and without the right tools, it is not likely to collect valuable feedback from customers
Even when forming a FAQ forum, which is the most basic form of customer support, you need tools – that is if you don’t want to count questions on your fingers. But let’s not forget that every tool used for customer support is a customer support tool. What matters is choosing the right ones for each channel and situation.
You should especially be careful when choosing:
1- Chat tools
You might want to ask yourself whether your business needs a chatbot, a live chat tool, or both? Do you actually need them and can you really afford them? Which one will be offered when and where?
2- Phone support
Can you afford to build a call center or do you need a small team? Can any customer call directly or will you offer chat support first? Will you offer your high-profile customers phone support directly or go with live chat first, given that the latter seems to be more effective?
3- Knowledge base
How will you segment your customers and who will receive immediate support? How are you going to collect and support feedback? Can you integrate data from separate teams using a knowledge base?
4- Emails, messaging apps, and social media
Are you going to offer support on these channels as well? Can you create an omnichannel experience for your customers? Is it necessary for your company to be present on all these channels and can you afford it?
It is true that SaaS customer support is highly dependant on proper tools but it goes without saying that the team members also play an undeniable role in great customer service. I’d say it’s like Ying and Yang. Bring a good team and the right tools together and there you have perfect customer support.
3. Turn every session into an opportunity
It is likely that you have received an upgrade offer talking to a customer support representative, at least once in your life. No matter the product or service, it is natural to be given a better deal when you have a problem: they want to compensate and keep you loyal even though you had a problem with the product.
Though this happens with the PaaS support and probably any other business type, it means a lot more for SaaS companies. Because as a customer, even when you received good customer service, it doesn’t change the fact that you had a problem, now you are automatically more likely to churn. And the last thing a SaaS business would want to do is let that customer retention opportunity slip away.
To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.Bruce Lee
I am pretty sure Bruce Lee had nothing to do with SaaS, but his wise words do apply. If the situation you are in is bad, simply turn it around and make it good. Do you think your frustrated customers actually want to go through changing companies and adapting to another software? Give them a reason to stay.
An upsell or upgrade is most probably the best thing you can get out of a customer support session with a customer. But of course, making an offer may not be the best thing in every situation. You just can’t get your customer to purchase a bigger tier when all they are struggling with is finding a button.
But even from the smallest customer pain points, you can extract value. According to Microsoft’s report, 77% of customers think it is important for companies to ask for feedback. Furthermore, customers are more likely to want to give feedback when they had a problem and reached out to you.
However, only 7% of companies almost always ask for feedback.
So, make a difference and ask for feedback. You can’t always upsell, but asking for feedback is a more permanent and actionable value you can achieve through customer support.
Best Examples of Good SaaS Support
From its highly intelligent chatbot Bolt to video tutorials available on Zoom Help Center, Zoom does customer support the right way. One thing I like about their website is that you get the chatbot option right away, no need to click “support” or head to the help center, which is a great example of accessible SaaS support.
Another thing that made a lot of sense to me was the Zoom webinars called “Ask Eric Anything” where Zoom CEO Eric Yuan came together with Zoom executives and help assistants to answer live questions. These webinars were later uploaded on YouTube to make sure people could watch them later.
With this unique approach to customer support, Eric Yuan not only delivered live support but also created content for later customer service needs. Wouldn’t expect any less from the dude who got us all staring at our laptop cameras all day long.
Shopify understood the assignment and said, “We got you.”
When I said to offer support step by step, this was exactly what I meant. When you go to Shopify’s website for help, the first thing they do is to have you log in. this way they can access the necessary information about you and help better.
If you want to continue without logging in, Shopify asks you to type in your question in case there is an entry that can help you on the knowledge base. If you need to talk to a representative, Shopify then gives you two options, live chat or email.
With this step-by-step system, Shopify not only reduces wait time for customers by minimizing the need for live support but also shows that they value customers’ time as well. Truly the epitome of self-service.
Hey, that’s us! I’ll be honest with you, our help center is pretty good. Well, it’s the same old knowledge base, but we have some helpful personal touches that I think are really cool.
Now take a look at this. Our knowledge base revolves around small articles for each FAQ and you can see that they are written by our very own support team thanks to their tiny pictures up there. Just by letting you know who is behind the answer that probably saved you a good amount of time, we give you a more human experience.
Another thing I love about our help center is that there are tiny little surveys asking whether the answer’s been helpful. It’s a really tiny change but it makes sure to check how the customers feel about the answer.
Remember, seize every opportunity, even the smallest piece of feedback can make a huge difference.
In its essence, SaaS customer support is not very different from any other customer support. Just like PaaS customer support, the main concern is customer satisfaction. However, it goes without saying that every sector has its own specificities and requirements and SaaS is no exception. Once you can make sure you are delivering accessible, fast, and effective customer support, hopefully, you will be able to apply the tips on this article and many more.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is SaaS support?
SaaS customer support is the type of customer support that SaaS (software as a service) businesses offer. Normally, there is not much difference between normal customer support and SaaS customer support, however, there are things that can improve SaaS customer support in specific ways.
How to get a SaaS support job?
SaaS customer support requires a certain set of skills that not any customer support representative has. To get a SaaS support job, one needs to have critical thinking skills as well as great understanding of certain customer support tools, apart from the regular set of skills of a customer support rep.
What is the average first response time for a SaaS company support?
There is no standard first response time, however, studies show that bigger companies tend to respond three times slower than smaller companies. Of course, with chatbots this first response problem can be solved.