Best Support Practices for SaaS in 2018 and Beyond
Service and support have always played an essential role in brands’ abilities to satisfy and retain customers. That’s certainly true today, as consumer expectations in this area seem to be getting increasingly high.
Fortunately, as support technology continues to evolve and improve, meeting those expectations is entirely possible. In fact, new channels, tools, and management platforms give support teams the ability to assist customers more efficiently than ever before.
Still, providing the level of support your customers want requires more than simply investing in the latest support tech. Instead, you need to have a comprehensive strategy for support and make sure that your approach is in line with current best practices.
That’s why on this page, we’ve compiled five of the most important support practices every SaaS company should be aware of — so that you can get your strategy up to speed and offer the kind of support your customers want.
Why Customer Support matters for SaaS Companies
Customer support is essential for every company, from e-commerce stores to B2B customer service providers to local retailers — but its exact functions vary within each of these business models.
So, as you may suspect, the role of a customer support team at a SaaS company is unique.
Unlike many support teams, which focus solely on addressing customer issues after they’ve made a purchase, SaaS support plays a role at every stage of the buying process that includes acquisition, activation, and retention. And given that each of these steps has a significant impact on business growth and overall revenue, your support strategy needs to account for all of them.
So while some brands may be able to get away with merely listing a phone number and email address on their websites, this simply isn’t enough to meet the needs of SaaS customers. You need to not only make it easy for users to get in touch with questions and concerns, but also take a proactive role in driving activation and engagement with your product.
After all, most SaaS companies rely on a steady base of recurring subscriptions — and the only way to achieve this is by ensuring that all of your users get value from your product, whether they’re brand new, or have been a loyal customer for years.
5 Best Support Practices for SaaS
It’s clear that excellent customer support is a necessity for SaaS businesses. What isn’t clear is how, exactly, to provide it. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of five best support practices to keep in mind as you create a strategy for your brand.
1. Begin with Onboarding
Many SaaS support teams make the mistake of waiting to provide assistance and information until users reach out with problems. To establish stable growth, you need to take a proactive approach to help each new user make the most of your product. After all, the sooner they see value from it, the more likely they’ll be to continue using it and opt for a recurring subscription.
And your approach doesn’t need to be complicated to work. It can be as simple as this onboarding email from LastPass.
While the concept of a welcome email isn’t exactly a novel one, the key here is that LastPass encourages new users to sync their accounts to their phones.
This is a simple task and one that most users can complete within a matter of minutes. But once they do, they’ll be able to experience a feature that’s unique to this platform — and to integrate the product more fully into their daily internet use.
The idea here is that with every additional feature a user tries, the more value they’ll get out of the product. And the more value they experience, the more likely they’ll become loyal customers — and, ideally, upgrade to a higher plan.
2. Offer Multiple Support Channels
Today’s consumers want options for all of their needs, and support is no exception. That’s the reason you should give customers multiple support channels to choose from.
Shopify, for example, lets users choose between live chat, phone support, email, and Twitter for all of their support needs.
While the exact channels you include depend on your target audience and their preferences, you should aim to offer at least two or three options. That said, it’s important not to expand your support options faster than your team can handle. Offering two efficient channels is much better than five disorganized, understaffed ones.
Scale your approach carefully, and make sure your team is equipped to provide excellent support on each channel you offer, and you’ll be much more successful in delivering the level of service your customers want.
3. Take an Omnichannel Approach
As you add new channels and expand your support options, it’s in your best interest to take an omnichannel approach. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it’s used to describe support strategies in which you connect all channels. This is different from the standard multi-channel approach in which each channel essentially operates independently.
For example, if a customer speaks with an agent via live chat, then wants to follow up via email, a company with a multi-channel strategy might require the customer to start from the beginning and re-explain their interaction with the live chat agent.
A company with an omnichannel approach, on the other hand, would have a record of the customer’s previous interactions on all channels — so that the agent reading the email could quickly get up to speed.
Freshdesk, for example, compiles all support inquiries and interactions in a single dashboard, and lets agents communicate about them using the “Team Huddle” feature.
This way, each agent has access to the information that will enable them to provide as efficient a support experience as possible — without running the risk of frustrating customers in need.
4. Make In-app Support Easily Accessible
Part of providing great customer support is making help accessible whenever and wherever users need it. For SaaS companies, that need often occurs while customers are using your product. Of course, they could exit the product’s interface, navigate to your support page, and either search for a tutorial or contact an agent. But many of them will just get frustrated and leave.
It’s in your best interest, then, to take a proactive approach to address their needs and eliminate frustration. One of the best ways to do this is by offering in-app support. Canva, for example, does this with a brightly-colored “Need help?” button in the corner of their interface.
After clicking this button, users get directed to step-by-step tutorials for each stage in the design process. This way, even if a user wouldn’t have taken the time to seek out a tutorial on their own, they can jump directly to the information they need to keep using Canva’s product.
5. Create Helpful Self-service Resources
Although self-service resources may not fit the conventional idea of what customer support looks like, they’re a necessity for SaaS companies. In-depth, helpful resources not only enable customers to make the most of your product but also eliminate the need for your support team to spend time answering the same simple questions about specific tasks and features. That said, creating a self-help platform that accomplishes these goals requires a bit more than writing a few support articles.
If you want your users to take advantage of your tutorials and other resources, you need to make accessing them as intuitive and user-friendly as possible. Splash, for example, organizes their support articles into a searchable database and suggests articles as a user types.
Even if a user isn’t entirely sure how to phrase their question, they’ll likely be able to find the article that answers it — and get the information they need within a matter of minutes.
Creating an effective customer support strategy is challenging for many SaaS companies. But considering how significant a role your support team can play in your overall success, the time it takes to find an approach that works is more than worth it.
And although the exact tactics you use depend on your needs and goals, keeping the five best practices on this page in mind as you develop your strategy will help you make sure you’re meeting each of your customers’ needs. Once your strategy accomplishes each of these goals, you can be confident that your customers have the support they need — and that you aren’t missing out on revenue simply because your approach falls short.