You may also want to view our webinar “How to Support Your Offering at Scale”
Traditionally, customer support has been seen as a cost center, something to be managed and reduced in order to preserve or improve margins. But with SaaS, it is seen as an important part of the client retention strategy, thereby increasing the total revenue that you collect from a client during the entire length of the subscription. The longer they stay, the better.
Based on the metrics that are used by many venture capital investors, if a client leaves in less than three years, there is a high likelihood that a vendor will lose money on that customer, because there won’t be enough time to recover the customer acquisition costs, provisioning cost and client support costs. You will be collecting your revenues over time, but you absorb the customer acquisition and onboarding costs up-front.
In the SaaS world, keeping a customer can become at least as important as selling to a new customer.
Since most churn takes place during the first few months of a subscription, getting new clients over the hump makes it much more likely they will stay with you.
But customer service costs money. Each client touch, especially when it involves human interaction, incurs a cost with no offsetting increase in revenues. So one of the objectives of a good support program is to do as much as possible up-front to reduce the need for support later. There are a number of ways of doing this.
• Provide a broad library of documentation to help with the deployment and specific functionality.
• Build a library of video tutorials that cover the key issues someone is likely to run into.
• Have an automated trouble-ticket tracking system allowing customers to see the status of their issue without having to call or e-mail.
• Support platforms available on mobile devices.
With an on-premise solution, the users within a company call IT – now they will be contacting you instead. This means you will be dealing with less savvy users, often with simple questions about functionality. “How do I print a document?” “How do I change a field from green to blue?”
As a result, you will want to provide support that is less technical, and more user friendly. In many ways you will need to dumb down your support.
A lot of issues come up during the deployment, especially in the enterprise market. Across a wide range of technologies and verticals, successful SaaS solutions offer a standardized, remote deployment package with fees ranging from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand.
Consider rotating your developers through a few shifts in customer support to answer questions. Chances are, they will find ways to modify the product to help eliminate issues.
Usability labs can be a great way to test out your installation process during your product development.
And if you can, you should consider building pro-active notification into the technology, a system that automatically alerts users to known issues that can impact performance. It is all about communications and heading your clients off at the pass before they feel the need to pick up the phone and call you.