Customer service must-knows for SaaS businesses

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The ROI of customer service when truly analyzed is unmistakable. For SaaS business, top-notch customer service is a powerful way to generate great word-of-mouth which is the key to succeeding in this overly-competitive area.

But it’s not enough to have good intentions and care for you customers, you must turn those intentions to actions. A lot of planning and analysis goes into formulating a good customer service strategy.

Here are some ideas and maxims to keep in mind when building your customer service:

1. Don’t substitute personalization with automation

I am all for using tech and automating processes to save time and be more efficient, but some automation cost you more than you know.

The lack personal touch when providing customer service due to automation can severely impair the perceived quality of your service. It doesn’t matter if you spend thousands of dollars on exquisite tech if it doesn’t please your customers.

Automated messages are especially not the right approach to deal with customer complaints and queries. If a customer reached out to you pointing out a mistake you made, then take as humanized and as personalized approach as possible to tackle the situation.

It may save you a lot of effort but no one likes to talk to recorded machines!

2. Pay attention to customer feedback

A new research published in the Harvard Business Review found that the act of just asking for customer feedback in itself is enough to help keep customers satisfied and coming back for more – even when they do not respond to your request.

Some companies make it so difficult for customers to convey their opinion that they end up leaving without completing the process. Others will collect the data, but they won’t use it, because it is a hassle to go through it and come up with meaningful conclusions. Either way, the whole process becomes a charade.

What we need to realize is that the process of asking for feedback induces people to think more than they would while using the product. So, the feedback you receive is like a goldmine – it will help you identify and understand problems and their root causes. The key here is to know how to collect and use the feedback in a meaningful manner.

In my case, when we first introduced Hiver to the market, it was only a prototype. After acquiring our first bunch of customers, we absolutely relied on their feedback to understand how the final product should look.

3. Have a proactive approach to customer service

When it comes to customer service especially, you cannot win if you have a reactive approach rather than a proactive one.

Using powerful and useful techniques such as behavioral segmentation can significantly improve your retention rate. For example, using this behavioral segmentation data you can reach out to your SaaS customers who have disengaged in a very personalized way. This otherwise, would have been a lost opportunity.

Find ways to estimate and anticipate the customer needs well in advance so that you can provide top-notch specialized customer service. Take steps ahead of time to ensure that a customer doesn’t leave you, rather than react to it after they do leave you.

4. Never keep your customers in the dark

As companies, we make mistakes. Our sites go down, our services falter for a day or two, the new feature you introduced is full of bugs etc. Most customers are fairly reasonable and they understand that mistakes do happen.

What really annoys them is keeping them in the dark and not openly communicating with them about what’s going on behind the scenes.

Twitter sets a good example on how to deal with site breakdowns, for example. Twitter servers have crashed a number of times and they have handled these situations with transparency and aplomb even.

Bottom line – if there is a problem communicate it with your customers and apologize. They will understand.

5. Maintain a consistent relationship

Carrying a self-serving attitude when running a business will backfire and for good reason too.

Some SaaS companies, for example, show a drastic difference in how well they treat their customers before and after a paid sign up.

When your sales representatives first approached a prospect, they would have made zealous promises to the lead and convinced them to use your product. Nothing wrong with that, except if you don’t follow through with the promises.

Not only is it morally wrong, but as a niche that depends entirely on recurring revenue, you really are poking your own eye.

Additionally, lack of consistency in customer relationship is the perfect recipe to generate a bad word of mouth.

6. Don’t have arguments with customers

Like I mentioned before, it is definitely good to have people deal with customer complaints and problems rather than automation, but the one disadvantage here is that people tend to get into arguments, which is not good for your business.

Here’s the deal, you have to make sure to hire the right people and train them well enough handle sticky and stressful situations with customers without losing their cool.

Especially in SaaS, often the products we develop are confusing to the customers initially. They need some time and guidance to get used to the various aspects of the product. If you have an impatient bunch of service employees, you are going to have serious problems.

When trying to build a customer-centric organization, arguments are not the way to go.

Even if the customer is at fault, don’t argue with them; show them what to do instead and be polite.

7. Be open to customer requests and appeals

Policies and guidelines exist to guide you to provide better customer service, but if they are keeping you from making a customer happy, it’s time to reconsider them.

Responding to a customer request with ‘I am sorry, our policies don’t allow it’ is never a good idea (assuming that the customer request is actually reasonable and ethical).

For example, if a customer is having trouble deciding about your product after the free trial period, extend it for a few more weeks, instead of saying ‘pay or leave’!

There is no single formula that works for all customers; you must adapt and improvise depending on the situation and at times like these your policies can become a hindrance.

But if you do have no choice but to say no, make sure that you deliver the message well with reasons and justification.

Wrapping up

The ultimate formula is simple. Show your customers you truly and genuinely care for them. In the highly competitive SaaS world, there are no shortcuts. You must work hard to build strong relationships and ensure that your service is top-notch at all times, no exceptions!

Niraj Ranjan
Niraj is the founder of Hiver (formerly GrexIt), an app the lets you share Gmail labels with other Gmail users. Niraj works on programming, customer support and sales, and also contributes to design and UI. He's a fusion music aficionado, loves to play the guitar when he can.

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