Regardless of the size and scale of your SaaS project one thing that you need to think about right now is, customer service. This goes beyond nice words and creating a warm feeling, customer service provides you the ability to reduce churn and increase customer advocacy.
For any startup SaaS platform, creating advocacy is crucial for reducing marketing and growth costs – word of mouth is the king of all marketing channels – and ultimately you want to also reduce churn.
Invest in the tools to make it easy for yourself
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail is a fantastic mantra for a startup. When it comes to areas of business such as customer service, this mantra really ring’s true to the simple fact that if you do not have the right tools in place, you will inevitably have a really hard time staying on top of messages and your day-to-day operations too.
For early stage startups all you really need is a live chat widget and support emails so that customers have multiple methods of contact. Live chat will inevitably be the main channel that customers will use as it’s a quicker method of troubleshooting problems. Make use of electronic business cards instead of physical ones so that the high cost of printing cards for the team is eliminated and data collection is made easy.
Consider a shared inbox too, which essentially combines all of your support channels and live widgets into one single inbox that your entire team can see and answer to. Finally, you can also consider using an IP geolocation service, or using a platform that has it built in. Knowing where your users are from goes a long way when aiming to deliver stellar customer service.
The idea with these tools is that customer service will be proactive in getting customers to their desired goal. You also need to be considerate of your time and aligning everything into one platform is always handy and welcome just for the efficiency.
Get the entire team on service duty early on
Off the back of the shared inbox tip, getting your whole team (if applicable) to complete teambuilding training and onto customer service duties and tasks on a rotation is a great way for everyone to get a grip of things.
If a customer shares their frustration at something and a developer is on service duty, they can probably think of a solution far quicker then putting a dev ticket in. In fact they may find a bug or glitch that they would have never noticed before.
Another benefit here is that the team members from different departments will be able to gather some ideas, think on them and potentially use it for future projects or tasks to improve things.
The goal is to ensure customer service is fantastic for your customers and that your team can also learn what the customer is feeling about the platform. Having a shared inbox, for example, provides easy team collaboration, messaging, and problem-solving which would otherwise be quite difficult when having to use multiple tools and platforms to ask simple bug questions or troubleshooting.
Slow and steady service is key
With customer service, large companies reward their agents for problem-solving in the quickest possible time. For a SaaS startup, this is the worst kind of customer service that you could provide….and you will be tempted to do so because of other tasks or just a desire to solve problems and move on.
Early stage startups need to live in their customer service platforms/tools. Asking questions and digging deeper, jumping on a call to really speak with them (if they are willing – don’t hassle them if they appear to not like the idea) and understand where things could be improved and what they would like to see.
This slow and steady approach is not scalable, sure, but the plethora of information that you will get will be better than any marketing campaigns data trial early on will prove to be priceless for growth.
Automation is key but avoid feeling robotic
There are certain steps that can be automated and they will work for the better. Live chat auto messages provide an estimated time for a reply is great, it sets expectations and the customer can carry on with their day whilst awaiting your response.
Imagine how many times you have sent a support email out to be provided with silence. Sometimes you get a thank you auto message but a lot of the time you do not. So you sit and wait and wait, drop them a follow up to get a snarky response. This is not great customer service. Ideally you will focus on automating the start of the conversation and setting those expectations.
Sometimes a live chat will try to troubleshoot with some article suggestions, however, there are times when this is way off the mark so you do feel like you just lost your opportunity to fix the problem.
You can also automate the end of the conversation by providing customers with a personal advice report. Provide them with a short questionnaire to analyze the issue and let a tool generate the solution.. A tool like Pointerpro lets you create a questionnaire with automatically generated personalized reports. You can advise your customers without feeling guilty about timing or the tone of voice, prove your expertise as a brand and spare time to dedicate your attention to the more complex issues your customers are dealing with.
Ultimately there should be a balance of automation but really after you have spent some manual labour answering service questions so you understand the general feelings towards your platform.
FAQs and support documents
After spending some time on the service side of business you will inevitably find some FAQs that keep coming up. This is perfect for automation and setting up your FAQ/support document centre. A central location for your customers to search and troubleshoot, whenever they please.
These documents can be added to live chat widgets for quick and easy responses BUT they should only be provided after you have spent time understanding your customer.
FAQs and support documents should also be regularly updated to ensure new features and actions are up-to-date. Also, adding FAQs as and when the same questions come in will help avoid getting drowned in future content requirements.
Pro tip: because FAQ’s are formulaic question-answer content pairs, it might become tempting to you to use an AI writing tool with an FAQ template (Jasper AI is a good example) to quickly churn out your FAQ’s. Please don’t. These tools can seemingly answer any question, but when you scratch beneath the surface you see their answers are superficial at best, but often quite nonsensical. Instead, take the time to answer questions real people have about your service.
It will pay of.
Low response time, high success rate
Even if your product is $5 per month, customers expect that they are catered to in a quick manner and that their problems are solved with perfect precision. Trying to get the inbox down to 0 is going to be a morale beater for you and your team. Focus on creating efficiencies in areas that you can control and build on.
As we mentioned the FAQ/support documents will be the key to achieving low response times and high success rates. But only after you have spent time understanding problems and noting them down in order to understand what is an FAQ, what is a genuine bug that needs fixing not patching or workarounds and ultimately you need to know how to effectively fix it before writing it down and sharing it with your customers.
Clear and concise
Having deep knowledge of your SaaS platform is a great advantage for ensuring customer service requests are dealt with quickly. But this deep knowledge can result in you viewing solutions and problems in a more abstract way.
Your customer is probably not tech-minded or they just expect your product to work so having to think of solutions is not something that they pay a monthly subscription for.
The classic customer service sentence would go “Thanks for the message, you are being transferred to the relevant department” which is OK but having a response such as “Hey John Doe, this is our service guru who will be helping you today” will make you feel more welcomed and like you are dealing with a human.
Being clear and concise is simply providing dates, times or information that will help the customer ensure they understand what is going on. A call that is spent 1-hour on hold with no idea when someone is going to answer is not good customer service. This can be considered the same for live chats and emails.
Your SaaS startup may be a small founding team or a distributed bunch of freelancers, either way, customer service is incredibly important in the early stages. Too few companies put emphasis on their customers in the early days, essentially focusing on data and metrics from blogs and articles to make key product/feature decisions when they really should have been focusing on speaking with their existing customer base Think of your customer service as another, free way to market your Saas.
By implementing some basic tools – live chat, shared inbox and support emails – you can already provide a better service experience than a lot of corporates do, at a fraction of the cost. The lessons learned will be priceless and product development will be fruitful with it’s success.