SaaS customer support: An introductory guide for 2024
How you respond to customer concerns can make or break your business. Learn about SaaS customer support and impactful strategies you can use in your operations.
SaaS customer support delivers on-demand solutions
What is SaaS customer support?
SaaS (software as a service) customer support refers to the systems and practices technology companies use to best serve their customers. This support extends from pre-purchase to post-sale, focusing on completely resolving consumer issues while also driving home the value and functionality of the SaaS product.
Nowadays, every business needs to provide an outstanding customer experience (CX), but the level and expertise of support varies by industry. An e-commerce brand, for example, may only need to handle basic inquiries about product specs, refunds, or shipping concerns. Diving into the world of technology companies, however, provides a vastly different experience.
SaaS businesses have the unique responsibility of providing both basic and technical support. This includes answering common customer concerns while also ensuring customers completely understand the product for maximum adoption and customer retention.
In this guide, we’ll touch on the basics of SaaS customer support and the steps you can take to implement a successful support ecosystem.
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Why is SaaS customer support important?
SaaS customer support is important because every interaction between a business and a consumer matters. Companies that can effectively educate and assist their customers have a greater chance of maintaining long-term consumer relationships.
SaaS organizations provide ongoing product support alongside general customer support requests due to the learning curve often associated with these products. Therefore, support agents need to ensure every individual they interact with leaves with complete resolution. If not, customer churn rates can skyrocket due to a misunderstanding of the software.
There are numerous benefits of SaaS customer support, including:
Customer satisfaction: According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2023, over 70 percent of consumers will switch to a competitor after multiple bad experiences. When companies provide excellent SaaS customer support, they can better secure customer retention.
Customer knowledge: SaaS products often come with several features and capabilities that may be difficult for consumers to learn. Support interactions can offer information customers need to understand the product and possibly contribute to long-term adoption.
Internal feedback: Customer support interactions can provide valuable insights into user needs and pain points. SaaS businesses can use internal feedback to improve their product and internal processes.
Competitive advantage: According to our CX Trends Report, more than half of customers have made a purchase solely based on the customer service they expect to receive. In an industry as competitive as SaaS, companies with exceptional customer support can stand out in the marketplace.
SaaS businesses can achieve all these benefits with the right processes and action plan.
Components of a strong SaaS customer support strategy
A well-crafted SaaS customer service strategy consists of several key components and support tools that can increase the level of customer service and drive product success. Here are a few of the most important ones.
AI and automation
AI and automation have become integral to a strong customer support ecosystem and can help businesses streamline issue resolution. Chatbots, for example, can automate responses to frequently asked questions, helping consumers resolve their issues in seconds. And with the help of AI, the bot can also automatically transfer a customer to the right live support agent for the task. Customers can get answers faster through this process, and support teams can focus on more complex issues.
Additionally, generative AI can assist agents by quickly expanding and shifting the tone of their messages, so they can resolve issues quickly and consistently.
Integrated customer data
According to our CX Trends Report, 7 in 10 consumers expect anyone they interact with to have the full context of their situation. This means SaaS support teams must have access to comprehensive customer data.
This data—which you can gather from user accounts, email, previous support interactions, and more—creates a holistic view of the customer, so support reps can personalize every interaction. Doing so results in streamlined support interactions and more effective service desks.
Unified omnichannel ticketing system
Today’s consumer communicates with businesses through several mediums, including a company website, email, or social media profile. As such, SaaS companies need a unified omnichannel ticketing system to centralize all interactions in one place. When businesses embrace an omnichannel approach, they can streamline ticket management, prevent duplicate tickets, and ensure good customer service.
Scalability and agility
SaaS businesses can achieve exponential growth seemingly overnight. As a result, their chosen support strategies and service desk software must be agile, to get up and running quickly, and scalable to adapt to changing user demands without a decrease in support quality. These principles are essential to ensure that customer support remains responsive and effective even with a customer base increase.
Outstanding support team
SaaS customer service agents are the first line of defense against customer questions and concerns. These team members have the unique responsibility of being an empathetic voice when faced with dissatisfied customers and serving as experts on technical issues or similar product concerns. Building a team of skilled and effective support agents is crucial for great customer service and a successful SaaS customer support strategy.
Being customer-first means putting the customer at the center of organizational decision-making instead of only focusing on products or profitability. When SaaS businesses adopt this mindset, they can better understand customer needs and pain points, more effectively gather feedback, and proactively address concerns.
How to measure SaaS customer support
There are many ways to measure SaaS customer support, but the best way is by keeping track of essential customer service key performance indicators (KPIs). A few KPIs include:
Average resolution time: This refers to the time it takes a customer service representative to solve a ticket.
Occupancy: This is the amount of time a support agent spends resolving tickets.
First reply time: Also known as first response time, this measures how long it takes for a support agent to respond to a consumer request.
First contact resolution: Known as “one-touch tickets” at Zendesk, first contact resolution measures how many tickets are solved with only one support agent (i.e., no transfers or multiple agents are involved).
Tickets handled per hour: This is how many tickets, on average, a support agent interacts with per hour.
Customer satisfaction score: Otherwise known as CSAT, this measures how happy your customers are with products, services, and the overall experience with your business.
How to improve SaaS customer support
There’s no one solution to improve SaaS customer support. It’s a constantly evolving process requiring teams and processes to work harmoniously. To reach your goals, consider the following steps.
1. Take a proactive approach
Most businesses want to reduce customer support interactions, and taking a proactive approach is the best way to do just that. Part of a customer-first strategy, being proactive involves anticipating customer needs before they become major concerns.
To illustrate, a company may emphasize information on its product page addressing a frequently asked question about a product. Or, a company may send out an email alerting customers that there is a product bug that is currently being fixed. Businesses can significantly improve their customer relationships by identifying and addressing issues as soon as possible.
2. Keep a record of your metrics
Data and performance metrics are some of the most important indicators of the effectiveness of your support efforts. Regularly track and analyze customer satisfaction, first reply time, first contact resolution, and other metrics using help desk software or other recording methods.
Businesses that develop comprehensive records of these metrics can use that data to identify areas of improvement and other bottlenecks in their operations. This results in more intelligent, data-driven decisions that can improve the support system.
3. Always strive for improvement
A continuous commitment to improvement should be at the core of any customer support strategy. Regularly review your performance metrics, agent training programs, support technologies, and high-level strategy to ensure you are always progressing and improving as a support system.
Furthermore, set concrete goals to guide those improvement efforts. For example, don’t just pledge to be “better” in six months—pledge to have a five percent CSAT improvement by Q3.
4. Ask for customer feedback
No one knows the effectiveness of your support system better than your customers. Regularly seek their feedback through surveys, feedback forms, questionnaires, FAQ pages, community forums, help desk ticketing systems, and any other place you can connect with them.
This information is invaluable in uncovering common pain points, preferences, and customer expectations. Doing so shows that you value customer opinion and can unearth improvement opportunities that your team may not be aware of.
5. Promote team collaboration
Effective SaaS customer service is a collaborative effort. If every department or team functions as an independent silo, impactful consumer information and support interactions can easily be forgotten.
Encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing among your support agents and schedule team meetings and brainstorming sessions so every customer-facing employee can weigh in on trends and current operations. By fostering a collaborative environment, you can tap into your team's collective expertise to improve the customer experience.
SaaS customer support examples
Now that we’ve covered what efficient SaaS customer service and strategy look like, let’s see how businesses have used customer service software to level up their operations.
Reverb is a Chicago-based business that focuses on buying and selling musical instruments, as well as teaching people how to play. Given the expertise that many of its customers have, the company quickly knew that knowledgeable, effective customer service was paramount to success—something Reverb turned to Zendesk for.
Pairing musically inclined support agents with Zendesk omnichannel capabilities, Reverb’s support staff delivers an outstanding CX across phone calls, chat requests, and emails. Furthermore, the company leans on many of the Zendesk personalization capabilities to get ahead of customer needs and provide proactive service.
With Zendesk, Reverb saw a big jump in support efforts, including a 10X increase in self-service usage and a 97.6 percent CSAT.
Instacart is a same-day grocery delivery service with two distinct user bases: customers who order food and shoppers who pick up and deliver that food. The company needed a system that would allow them to best serve each user—and that system was Zendesk.
Instacart relies on the customizable features and comprehensive integrations Zendesk offers to tailor the experience for each user base. Now, whether a shopper or a customer contacts Instacart through call, email, or text, its support team has everything they need to solve these issues in a flash.
After partnering with Zendesk, Instacart achieved a 90+ percent CSAT score, even with a 175,000+ monthly ticket volume.
CARET is a SaaS company that seeks to deliver high-quality legal and accounting software solutions. The organization always prioritized customer-first experiences, so when they needed to enhance the customer and agent experience, Zendesk was a no-brainer.
CARET uses Zendesk to streamline its workflows and communication as well as manage client services, business systems, and support tickets from internal and external customers. Since partnering with Zendesk, CARET has achieved a 1.54-hour median first reply time and 91 percent average CSAT score.
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Scale your SaaS customer support with Zendesk
Effective SaaS customer support is vital for enhancing CX, promoting customer acquisition, and fostering long-term relationships. Businesses need to implement a strong strategy that utilizes AI and automation, an omnichannel ticketing system, customer data, and more—key areas where Zendesk excels. With Zendesk, you can create meaningful connections with your customers, scale your support, and maintain flexibility through change. <a href="https://www.zendesk.com/register/#step-1" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Start a free trial</a> today.