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SaaS customer support: Strategies, best practices, and tools

SaaS customer support: Strategies, best practices, and tools

min read

Software as a service (SaaS) companies sell subscription-based solutions that are delivered remotely and accessed via the Internet. It's different from ordering a product or a one-time service, as SaaS companies provide ongoing functionality that companies typically pay for each month or each quarter.

Some popular SaaS companies you've likely heard of include Slack and Zoom, which allow individuals to communicate through the cloud. More complicated options, such as Salesforce or HubSpot, provide companies with a full array of marketing and sales automation.

SaaS companies often devote extensive resources to customer support by creating extensive knowledge bases, dedicating significant time and resources to onboard new clients, and providing ongoing support to understand features and troubleshoot problems.

The best customer support teams are reachable via channels like:

  • Phone
  • Email
  • Chatbot
  • Ticketing systems
  • Video calls

In this short blog post, we'll take a look at why SaaS customer support is so important and ways you can shore up your support department's impact.

Why is SaaS customer support important?

SaaS companies often provide complicated products that have steep learning curves. For example, a service like Salesforce is famously complicated, and many companies hire dedicated employees to be Salesforce admins (or experts) that the rest of the company can lean on for help. Without great customer support, it's nearly impossible for anyone to learn a system to that degree of mastery.

In fact, Zendesk's CX Trends 2024 report found that more than 70% of people would switch services if they had multiple bad customer support experiences. Said differently, SaaS organizations are only a few bad customer support interactions away from losing customers for good.

5 important SaaS customer support metrics

When managing a SaaS customer support team, it's not enough to provide a few resources and hope for the best. Metrics should be measured as closely as they are in marketing and sales teams.

Let's talk about a few:

1. First response time (FRT)

This metric answers this question: How long, on average, does it take for the SaaS support team to answer a customer's message?

Of course, different methods of contacting the company should have different goals. For example, someone submitting a ticket can understand if there isn't a reply for a few hours. However, someone chatting or calling in should get an answer ASAP. If every chat with the company results in a 15-minute wait, you will have frustrated clients.

2. Average resolution time (ART)

It's one thing for a customer to get a quick response from a support rep, but it's another thing entirely for their problem to be solved. To do this, you need a well-trained team that knows your SaaS product inside and out.

This goes beyond just having your agents read knowledge base articles; they need true mastery of the product, or, at the very least, a system for escalating tickets to people with more experience and frequent agent upskilling.

3. Customer satisfaction (CSAT)

Most companies ask some type of question at the end of a customer service experience. You've certainly experienced this, whether it was a quick click of a "happy face" or "sad face" at the end of a chat, or a post-call survey.

Many companies ask their customers to rate their level of satisfaction on a 1-5 scale. They determine that anyone who answers with a four or a five (or a positive answer) is a happy customer, and from there, they can determine the percentage of positive experiences.

4. Ticket volume

For a ticket-based customer support team, measuring the number of tickets your SaaS customer service team can handle per hour or day is imperative.

With this metric, you can understand which support reps are the most productive and if bringing on more reps is necessary. This metric should be coupled with a quality metric because handling many tickets with poor service is never the goal.

5. Churn rate

Churn rate is often a company-wide metric, as everyone from sales to marketing to development to customer support has a hand in shaping the customer experience. However, because the SaaS customer support experience is valued so heavily by customers, it's important for support leaders to figure out how their efforts impact churn.

What are the components of a successful SaaS customer support strategy?

A well-executed SaaS customer support team decreases churn, increases sales, and drives overall customer satisfaction. Here are some strategies to consider when planning your customer service strategy.

Omnichannel support

Great SaaS customer support meets the customer where they're at. Some people don't want to talk on the phone or ask a question outside of business hours. Others may need a video call to discuss particularly difficult issues.

Some of your clients or prospects may take to social media to voice concerns or ask questions. Without close monitoring, critical questions may go unanswered. As a leader of customer support, make it your mission to roll out as many different support methods as possible to meet your customers' needs, while still funneling all of those channels into one tool or platform so agents only have one place to go to resolve all inbound customer queries.

Effective use of resources

Consider how your company can fully answer support questions with the least amount of effort. This doesn't mean solving problems halfway or speeding through tickets so fast that mistakes happen, but rather figuring out an answer to this question: How can your company be just as helpful with fewer reps?

For example, an AI-powered chatbot is an effective way to answer simple questions. Just be sure customers have an easy way to speak with a real rep, or they may become frustrated.

Creating a comprehensive support center or knowledge base can also help customers answer their own questions instead of seeking intervention from a support agent. A good support center or knowledge base should include well-organized articles, step-by-step tutorials, and a clear path to get person-to-person support if needed.

Other companies remove phone numbers from their websites because it might make more sense for them to funnel people to a chatbot or a ticketing system.

Incredible training

Nothing is more frustrating for a client than having a long chat session or phone call that doesn't lead to a resolution. This often happens because agents don't know enough to be helpful.

Extensive training needs to happen both during onboarding and on a regular basis. Some companies try to cut costs by keeping so few reps that they don't have time for anything but answering tickets, but this leads to a staff that underperforms and can't satisfy customers.

Empowered support reps

Frontline customer support reps who are empowered to handle situations themselves need less intervention from managers. Allow them to do things like give out freebies or small discounts to disgruntled customers. Establish what's allowed and what's not beforehand, so your team knows to what extent they can handle tricky situations by themselves.

In the long run, you'll have happier clients and reps who can move faster without asking for permission.

Best practices for improving customer support

Great customer support means more revenue for your company. Here's how to improve what you're already doing:

  • Be meticulous with your metrics: Track the metrics we mentioned earlier in this article. Measure them over time and monitor improvement or areas of opportunity. It's not enough to go by anecdotes or feelings.
  • Stay customer-focused: Every decision you make should take customer satisfaction into account. If you want to cut back on resources or make big changes, ensure that someone is asking if this is going to lower customer satisfaction. In the long run, happier customers create more profit than slashing the budget.
  • Promote collaboration: To create the best SaaS customer support, your team should feel connected. They should have contacts across other departments and feel comfortable asking clarifying questions. Have inter- and cross-departmental meetings to share wins and new strategies.
  • Make customer support a priority for the whole company: Customer support shouldn't be left only to the customer support team. A sales team has a massive impact on how the company is viewed. The marketing team can set up automation to ask for reviews and gather concerns. The entire company should think of themselves as supporting the customer service team.
  • Be proactive: Customers want support that goes above and beyond to make their lives easier. For example, if a customer has a poor support experience, a team lead can review the transcript and reach out to them with a better solution.

4 tools for SaaS customer support

You'll certainly want to use software to build out your SaaS customer support system. Here are a few types that can help:

1. SaaS help desk software

One of the main ways that teams provide and manage customer support is through ticketing software. Help desk solutions can make handling thousands of submitted issues manageable by prioritizing tickets, creating reports, and tracking performance.

Many support and help desk tools will give each rep a centralized contact page to see every support interaction an account or specific contact has had with your company. You'll see every call, ticket, chat, email, and more.

This type of software also helps divvy up tickets and route people with a prior history to a rep they've spoken with before. Zendesk, Intercom, and Hiver are all examples of beloved help desk solutions.

Teams who use Gmail to power their support emails should consider a tool like Streak to organize and respond to support inquiries, track customers, and collaborate across teams — all without leaving Gmail. Streak plans start at $49/month and include email tools like email view tracking, mail merges to communicate updates and outages, and snippets to help your team respond to tickets more efficiently. (Plus, we offer a 14-day free trial for anyone who's interested.)

2. Automated chatbots

In some cases, automated chatbots are included in help desk software. For a smaller company that doesn't need extensive ticket management, a simple chatbot on the site might be all that's needed.

In addition, many of these solutions also allow AI to answer questions first and only require a live rep when the person requests it.

Chatbot services, such as LiveChat's $20/month service, can be fairly inexpensive.

3. Knowledge base software

The better your knowledge base, the fewer resources you'll need for hands-on support. In fact, most people prefer to avoid communicating with a rep, as 67% of customers said they prefer self-service support.

It's possible to create static pages on your website that act as a knowledge base, but there are far more effective solutions out there.

For example, a tool like Document360 provides an AI-assisted search. In other words, a user can ask a question, and the AI will search the database and provide an answer rather than a list of articles that may have the needed information.

4. A CRM

Many companies view a customer relationship management tool (CRM) as a tool that's just for the sales department. However, they can also be extremely useful for customer support teams.

For example, Streak, the CRM for Gmail, keeps all of the back-and-forth with each contact on one page for easy reference. Plus, from each contact's page, you can easily call or send an email.

Screenshot of a Gmail interface featuring the CRM tool Streak. The email is for Coffee Cave, with details about upcoming tasks, contacts and organizations, and Olivia Brown's contact card on the right. The interface shows stages, action buttons, and custom columns.

Other support features include the ability to group similar issues together, use pre-built support pipelines, and automatically alert all agents to significant bugs or new tickets from key clients.

It's worthwhile to invest in SaaS customer support technology

Effective SaaS customer support is crucial for maintaining customer satisfaction, reducing churn, and ultimately driving revenue. It's a wise, future-focused business move to invest in better support resources.

By implementing strategies like omnichannel support, comprehensive training, and rep empowerment, SaaS companies can enhance the customer experience and send their CSAT through the roof. If you need a hand making all of this happen, consider a tool like Streak. Our CRM can streamline your support operations, provide a centralized platform for managing customer interactions, and improve overall efficiency. Start your 14-day free trial whenever you're ready.

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