SaaS: Software as a SERVICE
Let's break down SaaS for a minute. It stands for Software as a Service. Up until now, we've talked a lot about software. It's an important piece. But you know what else is important? That second S. The one that stands for service. Service affects your price, marketing, sales and product direction.
Good service vs. bad service
The level of service you provide will impact your business. There are two main ways that shakes out.
Poor service creates:
- Bad reviews. In the case you don't watch much news, let me tell you, people are pretty eager to share how others mess up.
- Increased price sensitivity.
- Lower renewal numbers. Every time a customer renews their subscription, they ask themselves, "Is this worth it?" If your service is crap, their answer is likely to be, "no."
Great service creates:
- Customer evangelists. These generate powerful, positive word of mouth reviews.
- A boost in perceived value. People are willing to pay more for good service.
- A clear path for improvement
- Higher sales. Compared to finding new customers, it's easier to upsell to existing, happy customers.
- A competitive edge. If your competitors are coasting by with OK service, you can stand out with great service.
So let me ask you this. Can you afford anything less than great customer support?
Your first customer support setup
After skimming that list, you get it. Good customer support is important. Here's how to get started when you're just starting out:
1. Decide WHO and HOW
Pick who's going to do support. You? You + your co-founder? Make sure this is explicit, otherwise no one will do it on a busy or ho-hum day. Next, pick how you'll do support. Email, live chat, social, a software, phone, a combo of two of these? There are pros and cons to every channel.
Whatever channel you pick, it needs to work for you and it needs to be where your customers hang out.
2. Define a great response
Identify what elements make a great response. Then, ensure every response has those elements. For example, before you send something, see if you can answer "yes" to these questions:
- Is it clear?
- Is it positive?
- Is it human?
- Have you provided a solution?
- Have you read it twice?
If it isn't clear, nothing else about it matters. Psychologically, customers respond best to positive, human communications. And an extra 20 seconds to proofread can save you countless emails.
Note: You can customize your own definition to include things like a style guide. Our basic questions will get you rolling in the meantime.
3. Know what to say and what not to say
4. Be proactive about reducing requests
Great support takes time. Good news is, there are steps you can take to reduce request loads. These take upfront time but save you loads of time down the road. They are:
Customer education helps people find answers before coming to you.
5. Don't build responses from scratch
As you identify frequent requests, make templates for those. In the meantime, stockpile responses for common situations - including bad situations. With so many good examples out there, there's no reason to start from scratch. Check out free templates and examples for:
- Thank you notes
- Common scenarios (e.g. "I want a refund.")
- More common scenarios
- Going above and beyond
- Handling tough situations
- Apologizing for a big failure
- Status updates during a mishap
- Welcome emails
- Onboarding emails
- The real-life examples over at Just Good Copy
6. Organize + analyze requests
Support is your front line for feedback. Tag and categorize requests to see where you get the most questions. This indicates things like what features you should pitch, what's confusing about your software, and what people want. If you're super Type A, Groove has a spreadsheet for tracking those.
Also, consider a quarterly review to see what your support logs are telling you. Schedule a recurring calendar invite for this like you did with pricing.
7. Bookmark resources for the future
As you grow, your support setup will change. Bookmark resources (like Helpscout and Groove) so you know where to turn when that happens. Also, pay attention to founders who do customer support well. Reach out to them or founder groups for ideas when you get stuck.
It may seem like a lot of effort to provide good support. And it is. But it's worth the outcome. These basics will help you level up because, at the end of the day, your startup can't afford poor support.
"Good customer service costs less than bad customer service."- Sally Gronow
Want to see us cover a topic? Have major startup questions or sticking points? Email firstname.lastname@example.org