The views in this blog post represent the viewpoints of the guest author, and may or may not reflect the viewpoints of Planview IdeaPlace.
When it comes to providing value, SaaS businesses have it very different. Unlike their e-commerce counterparts (which provide value based on price), SaaS companies provide value with customer service experience.
Businesses might measure customer experience on various parameters, but the majority of customers measure it against one metric – time. A staggering 77% of customers judge a company’s service on how it values their time. Any aspect of your SaaS business that makes users feel that you respect their time should be in your customer experience kit.
SaaS companies depend heavily on retention and repetitive revenues, that’s why customer experience plays an important differentiator that can give them an edge over competitors. If a first-time user isn’t getting his or her expectations met, chances are they won’t upgrade to your premium services.
To tighten the ropes on your customer’s experience, here are the five must do’s for your SaaS business:
1. Don’t disguise automation as a human act
Let’s be clear, automation is one of the best things that has happened in the digital realm. 88% of marketers have agreed that reducing time spent on creating reports and analysis has given them more time to focus on customer interactions. Ultimately, empowering companies to provide exceptional customer experiences.
But, the problem begins when SaaS companies try to trick users into believing that there is an actual human behind the action. Even though automation does provide personalization to a certain degree, it cannot remove the ‘human’ factor out of the equation. The fact that ‘Better human service’ is the most requested improvement from customers, goes to show that companies cannot downplay on human interactions.
An automation platform can make you proactive in your customer support, but it should not be used when users want to genuinely connect and share their issues with you. The minute they realize it’s a machine, they feel they have been tricked – the user doesn’t trust you anymore.
Here’s an example of how Dominos, the popular pizza chain, made an epic automation fail. They later tried to claim that it was a human mistake, but by then – it was too late.
2. Let customer feedback evolve your support philosophy
Asking customers for feedback is a great mantra to nurture your customer support philosophy. A Harvard study shows that just asking for feedback can change customer perceptions, irrespective of whether they give their opinion or not. This helps in shaping your customer experience.
Since your cash flow depends on repeat users, customer support plays an important role in building the experiences you give customers. When you collect customer feedback, you can identify the roadblocks that hinder the customer journey and work towards improving them.
But, do not try to push customers for feedback. If your SaaS company tries to be aggressive, you might actually see yourself at the receiving end of a customer’s fury. Keep the process subtle, make the feedback experience positive by:
- Being mindful of the time you reach out for feedback. The best time to call is between 8 am to 9 am on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
- Adopting a smart approach to collecting feedback.
3. Do not make radical product changes
Kaizen, a Japanese management philosophy, involves making continuous small changes that will later lead to a more substantial change. Your SaaS product marketing should operate based on this principle.
Do not try to introduce rapid 360-degree product changes. Instead, let it be a slow process. Allow customers to get used to your product and the various functionalities, and then bring in new features. Customers will find it easier to cope with these small tweaks and will see it as an easy add-on to their product experience.
Say you are an email marketing SaaS company which follows the Kaizen principle. To provide a smooth customer experience, every six months you introduce a new addition to your user interface. Over a long haul, customers would not even realize that your entire user interface has gone through a heavy makeover from what it used to be – consistency is the key to an enriching customer experience.
4. Stop saying sorry; rather, delight
Even though you don’t intend to, chances are you are going to make mistakes. In that case, apologizing might be a smart option, but overdoing it might just be the end of your SaaS business. A recent study has concluded that people ‘apologize’ at least eight times per day.
Maintaining composure and Zen is very important if you expect to win back your customers. None of these traits can be expressed if you are busy apologizing. Most customers provide you an opportunity to rectify your mistake and that’s your golden chance – don’t waste it by writing a sob story, rather, give solutions.
Say, a customer calls one of your support associates, but it happens to be the wrong person. A support staff member tells the customer “I am sorry, I am not the right person who can help you,” that’s the wrong answer. Here’s what you should be doing:
- If you are not the right person for the job, redirect customers to the ones who are.
- When transferring the call, explain to customers the reason why you’re doing so.
- Brief customers on how waiting for a few more seconds would be beneficial for them.
By doing this, you are able to gain a respectable position in the eyes of the customer. It creates a ‘Halo effect’, where customers would forgive your mistakes only due to the newfound appreciation they have gained for you. This way, your brand is able to create a positive customer experience from a bad one.
5. Don’t function in silos
A lack of proper integration services has been a major reason for customers discontinuing their cloud services. When the majority of SaaS companies are facing a churn rate of more than 5% annually, operating in silos can be catastrophic.
Your business cannot pretend to be on an isolated island anymore. Given that most people use numerous apps and services at one time, product integrations are a great way to combine complementary functions. Your customers see utility when you integrate with other SaaS products.
For instance, Google Docs integrating with Slack makes it easier for teams to communicate. Slack users can create and share Google documents right from their Slack channel. It adds to a positive customer experience for both platform users because it saves time and increases productivity.
The reason why all of the above points help your SaaS company deliver positive customer experience is that they value customers’ time. The faster you let users get things done, the happier they are.
About the guest author
Niraj is the founder of Hiver (hiverhq.com), an app that turns Gmail into a powerful customer support and collaboration tool. When not working at Hiver on programming or customer support, Niraj likes to play guitar. Niraj can be reached on Twitter @nirajr.