This ultimate guide will cover everything you need to know about SaaS customer success best practices. We define the difference between customer success and customer support, then explain the importance of a great customer success team, and list 10 best practices for SaaS customer success.
20 min read
There’s no denying that SaaS companies need to provide quality customer service. Yes, technology is the driving force behind most, if not all digital platforms. But, you can also boost the relationship with your audience and lower churn through outstanding customer support.
Companies around the world lose a monumental $75 billion each year to poor customer service. This phenomenon affects companies of all sizes. Yet, it’s harder for tech startups and small businesses to rebuild their reputation.
Still, there are ways to strengthen the relationship with your customers after a bad experience. 86% of people would still continue their service if they feel an emotional connection with a customer service agent. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen as often as companies would like it to.
It doesn’t matter if your platform targets consumers or B2B companies. Providing great customer support will keep users content. Still, many SaaS companies struggle to deliver superb support. What’s worse, they fail to ensure the success of their clients.
In this article, you’ll find the definition of SaaS customer success. Additionally, we’ll go over the difference between customer success and customer support.
We’ll also discuss common challenges SaaS companies face in their quest to deliver a great experience to their customers. Finally, we’ll give some SaaS customer success best practices to help shape the support department in your company.
Without further ado, let’s jump in!
There are many differences between a conventional business and a SaaS company. The biggest one being that SaaS products are in a constant state of flux.
In most cases, a person or company buys a product and that’s the end of the transaction. Sure, the customer may need some assistance or have a warranty claim. But, the process is simple and the product never changes.
SaaS is unique because developers are always working to improve each platform. Customers get to enjoy these improvements even after their first purchase. For this reason, they are willing to pay a subscription that gives them access to an evolving tool.
But, this also means that they grade the quality of your service every month.
Innovation is critical in the world of SaaS companies. As technology moves forward, developers use these advancements to enhance their service. This results in better features, lower costs, reliable security features, and more robust platforms.
Even so, people have come to expect the above from most SaaS organisations. What truly makes a SaaS company stand out is the experience they create for their customers. A whopping 73% of people take customer experience into account when making any type of purchase decision.
And, it’s safe to assume that number is much higher when dealing with a product that requires recurring payments. That’s why it’s important for SaaS companies to deliver a great service to their customers. Besides doing its job, users expect your platform to look and feel good too. And, if they ever need support, they want to make sure someone is there to help.
Every part of your company that your customers interact with affects their experience. This includes your products as well as your customer service department.
Traditionally, SaaS customer service teams operate as a safety net. They answer any questions or try to solve issues customers may have.
But, they don’t contact customers to solve their problems or listen to their suggestions. Instead, customers reach out whenever they have an issue and ask for help. And, because of the evergreen nature of SaaS companies, this model doesn’t quite do the job anymore.
Now, SaaS developers are starting to build their services around customer success. And although it’s easy to understand, mastering this new philosophy is not that simple.
SaaS customer success is a proactive approach that ensures your clients are always getting the most out of your product. By introducing this concept to your organisation, you can create a wholesome structure that benefits you and your clients.
Customer success can come in a variety of shapes. It can be one single person within a small organisation. Or, a group of account managers that focus solely on guiding customers through your product.
Whatever setup you choose, your success staff should offer a closer link to your clients. Success specialists can ensure that your clients continually see the value in your product. At the same time, costumers will understand the features and the benefits your product brings along.
Remember that setting up a SaaS customer success team also has strategic benefits. First off, you’ll be able to collect valuable feedback from customers after the first contact.
The success team should also keep an eye out for any potential cancellations and the reasons behind them. And, success agents may share additional tasks as well. These can include onboarding new customers to help establish a predictable internal structure.
Keep in mind that your success specialists should work side-by-side with your support team as well.
Customer success may be the new kid on the block. But, it’s important to understand how this new mantra will coexist with your SaaS customer support team.
Before analysing this relationship, let’s define SaaS customer support.
The customer support in all SaaS companies also falls under the umbrella of the customer service team. But, your support crew should tend to your customers’ needs on a reactive basis. In other words, your customer support department should provide help on-demand. Our article on 10 SaaS customer support best practices goes into more detail about this.
Unlike customer success, the support team isn’t the first one to make contact. Instead, they offer assistance on a variety of topics to users that seek their help. Also, note that the support department answers questions that come from different sources. This includes past and current customer, as well as users who haven’t signed up to your service (yet!).
Like all departments within your organisation, you need to have an effective SaaS customer support team. But, you should keep users in mind to make your team accessible.
Your support team should be available through your customer’s favourite communication channels. Also, make sure you provide assistance during regular business hours. Offering live support around the clock is a great idea. But, if your budget is tight, you can create a self-service option that’s available 24 hours a day.
Not only this, your agents should deliver standard information in a fast and timely manner. Plus, your entire service team should provide the same level of assistance across all platforms. This will allow your support and SaaS customer success teams to coexist and help each other out.
The relationship between the customer support and success teams is symbiotic. Keep in mind that the main difference between the two is that your support team provides assistance on-demand.
Customer success agents, on the other hand, are proactive in their approach. In most cases, SaaS developers assign an individual success specialist to each customer. They take the time to know each client and understand their goals.
Success specialists should answer any customer inquiries. And, they should also be able to walk them through any new features you may introduce.
Note that the metrics you use to measure SaaS customer success are different from the support statistics.
These numbers will vary according to the specific vertical you’re in. That said, set an initial benchmark in order to track your performance from the beginning. In an ideal world, your success and customer support teams should work together. Both of them need to be on the same page and have access to the same information.
It’s true that the success crew will have a closer connection with your clients. But, they should share their notes whenever they interact with customers. That way, your support team can take care of the same customer and pick up where the previous agent left.
After all, the aim is to create an awesome experience. If your whole team is in the same wavelength, you’ll improve the quality of the service in a natural manner.
Customer Success Best Practices for SaaS Companies
There are different SaaS customer support models you can put in place. Be that as it may, customer success is making its way into most business structures. And, unlike traditional customer support, focusing on the success of a client is a new train of thought.
Most entrepreneurs still struggle to understand SaaS customer success. The concept is abstract and it changes with each company. As a matter of fact, the definition is so flexible it can look different for two clients of the same SaaS company.
With this in mind, you can still follow general best practices that improve your customer success aspirations. Here are some tips to help optimise the performance of your SaaS customer success team.
Keeping track of your customer’s success is an ongoing mission. The first step is to establish a benchmark and measure your current performance. You may already have a mechanism to track customer success in place. In this case, you can measure SaaS customer success like you normally do. If not, start by defining the statistics you want to track.
Remember that the ideal statistics will depend on your industry and your customers’ goals. Some metrics you may find helpful include:
Learning how to measure SaaS customer success takes time. Besides the options above, you should also develop your own internal metrics. This will ensure you’re also considering your company’s unique requirements.
According to Neil Patel, “when an app user needs support, she’s already entered into frustration mode”
Making your support and success teams available is just as important as delivering great service. Even if you have a stellar team, customers will not be happy if your agents are hard to reach.
Instead of hiding your contact information, make sure you push your customers towards your service channels. But, remember that your support team will be dealing with more general inquiries.
In contrast, your success team should only serve active customers. Make sure that your clients have direct contact information for their success specialist. You should also verify that your success agents are available through the channels that your customers use the most.
To figure out which channels you should use, analyse your customer’s requirements. Phone and email support are the most frequent communication channels. That said, many modern companies prefer alternative means like social media. Some even expect you to have a live chat assistant around the clock.
For that reason, you need to keep all of their requirements in mind when selecting the channels you’ll offer.
Building a good relationship with your customer is about showing them how valuable they are. After all, they are the heart and soul of any company. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos put it in perfect words:
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”
Especially in the SaaS industry, where developers are always working to improve their platform. The best way to show customers how much you value them is to listen to their feedback. By looking at the latest consumer and B2B trends you can get an idea of what your clients expect.
To get more granular data, you can survey your current client base and make changes according to their requests. Your customer success team is critical in this step.
Your success specialists should have open communication lines with your client. Not only can they ask them direct questions, but also listen to their concerns. Most customers don’t keep a list of the little details that annoy them. But, your success agents can catch these nuances whenever they work with your client.
Then, your agents can present the improvements and make customers feel like the centre of attention.
Customers are the most important part of any business. Nevertheless, many SaaS companies forget about this in the race for innovation.
You don’t have to sacrifice the quality of your service to have the latest technology. In fact, your success specialists should always have a customer-centric mentality. This will guarantee customers are content while your engineers take care of the technical side.
Keeping the customers’ needs first may come as second nature to some of your team members. Still, chances are you’ll have to provide training to guarantee they are all on the same page.
One of the biggest challenges your success team will face is communication. Customers are very receptive. So, your team members need to select their words carefully without losing their personality.
Make sure you focus on communication during your training sessions. Role-playing exercises can help you determine your specialists’ weakness. And, these activities will also help reinforce the value of the customer.
Reducing churn is a critical task for all software platforms. To the point that more than 50% of SaaS companies increased spending on customer retention in 2016.
Setting up a success team will help you monitor each customer individually. Aside from improvements, your employees can keep an eye on the client’s satisfaction. This will provide valuable insights that help identify cancellation patterns.
Make sure you deduce the main reasons why your customers cancel their service. If possible, develop a permanent solution to prevent losing other clients.
You should also create preventive methods for when your specialists start noticing negative signs. Don’t wait until your customers hit a breaking point. Instead, design an approach to help them before they reach that stage.
Once you have a set of solutions, your success representative can contact a client to solve the issues before they become major.
To deliver the best experience you have to find the right support model. It’s easier for startups and small businesses to set up the right structure. In contrast, larger SaaS companies need to invest more time in finding the best system.
At the most basic level, your customer service department consists of your success and support teams. The success team is uni-dimensional and isn’t as deep as your support crew. But, they do have to work with all other parts of your company to ensure customer satisfaction.
Depending on the size of your company, the support department can comprise several tiers. The primary level is in charge of basic inquiries. From there, you can have various tiers that take care of technical problems and specific issues as well.
It’s normal for SaaS platforms to encounter glitches and other issues. Companies that focus on customer success need to single out these errors. Then, your engineers should develop a permanent fix that stops it from returning.
Resolving small technical issues is pivotal. Even if a glitch is not big enough for a customer to cancel their service, it can put a dent in their experience. And, they will be more disappointed if the issue continues after they bring it up with your company.
Besides, fewer technical problems can reduce your team’s workload. Then, your agents can spend more time identifying improvement areas. Plus, you’ll also have more team members available whenever your customers request help.
An aspect that many companies fail to take into account is scalability. The more your company grows, the more requests your team will have to handle.
Designing a scalable structure requires much more than hiring new team members. You have to verify that your company can handle a surge in volume without skipping a beat.
To improve the scalability of your SaaS company, you should first create a marketing roadmap and respective projections. You can start calculating the number of agents you will need to serve a growing customer base. That way, once you reach your revenue projection, you’ll also know where your customer service department needs to be.
If your customer base is growing faster than you can handle, outsourcing some of your support operations is an option. But, you still need to make sure the offsite agents have the knowledge and tools to deliver outstanding support.
Although this may seem obvious, a lot of companies don’t equip their success team with the right tools. Despite the fact that CRMs improve efficiency, your success specialists need more than account information.
Remember that these representatives should be able to provide fast solutions. They should have the power to troubleshoot problems and view technical details of the customer’s service.
There are many customer support platforms you can deploy in your SaaS company. Just make sure you take the time to find the best tools for your specific requirements.
Having a knowledge base will help your employees and customers learn about your product. A knowledge base is a repository of company resources that include text and tutorial videos.
Platforms like Document360 allow you to create standalone knowledge bases for your SaaS. You can create two different repositories that serve your team and customers.
Your internal knowledge base can contain any piece of information your team members may find useful. Customer-facing knowledge bases shouldn’t contain internal information. Instead, these platforms include details that help customers handle issues on their own.
Setting up a knowledge base can help increase productivity within your organisation. It can make information more accessible, reducing search time in all departments.
It’s worth noting that having an external knowledge base will help enhance communications with your customers. Your target audience can access the articles you post and leave comments as well as questions for your team. Then, your team can answer these questions directly and improve customer success without having to actively reach out to consumers.
A knowledge base can also improve communication between team members and entire departments. And making information more accessible can even produce a smoother onboarding process.
To have a positive impact, you need to find an effective set up for your knowledge base. You can start off by finding a robust platform that has the features you need. Then, establish a team and a calendar to start developing content for the repository.
After you create enough content, launch your knowledge base and build on it iteratively as your product or service evolves. All the same, remember to track its performance and optimise different areas as you see fit.
SaaS companies find themselves in a unique position. They have the chance to constantly improve their product, which should result in a base of happy customers.
Ensuring that your customers get the most out of your platform is not always easy. You need to have a knowledgeable customer support department available at their disposal. Additionally, you also have to embrace your customer’s success as your own. By setting up a SaaS customer success team, you’ll show your clients how valuable they are to your company.
That said, creating an efficient success department may be challenging. You have to train your team members and ensure they have a customer-first mentality.
The best practices above should help point your company in the right direction.
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