There’s a particular feature of SaaS and subscription apps that makes them “easy”…
It’s easy for customers to leave.
If you’re paying a monthly subscription and things aren’t quite going how you want them to, it’s simple enough to hit the “cancel” button – there are even apps out there which help people to easily cancel subscriptions.
You might have worked very hard on ensuring that your app solves a key problem and that it does so with incredible features, but all of those features can be let down by a poor customer support experience.
Your customers want to know that, when it’s required, help will be there quickly and efficiently. The support experience can make or break the entire perception of your app with them, so let’s look at some tips for creating great service:
1. Make support easy to find
When a customer has a question or needs help with something, how easily can they find the help they need? One of the most frustrating experiences is when you have devoted several minutes to clicking or scrolling around in an effort to find support.
This sort of scenario will let down even the app which has the best, most state-of-the-art features around. It’s amazing how many SaaS meet this description though – their app or website is so “clean” that they’ve swept away all obvious signs of help!
A customer could be looking for support for any of a number of reasons, but bear in mind that many of those could be due to some sort of annoyance with the app. “I can’t find help” is yet another peeve to add to that list, possibly edging their finger closer to the cancel button.
Scrolling to find help is not a good plan – you could choose to have a chat app that floats in the corner, a help tab or a very obvious help menu item. The screenshot below shows the banking app for USAA where “help” is always an obvious tab at the bottom of the screen. Once users click on it a chatbot can then help to direct them to where they need to be.
2. Have guidelines for customer interactions
You can never really assume that whoever you have on customer support will just know instinctively what is required of them and for that reason, we would suggest having a documented set of standards to be upheld.
Your standards should consider things like:
- Service level agreements for how quickly a customer should get a response.
- Any guidelines for specific situations.
- The amount of discretion support staff have to issue refunds or “put something right.”
- How requests are to be tracked, followed up and ensured of closure.
Customers always appreciate being kept in the loop – another thing to consider is maintaining transparency with them over when they can expect a response and any issues that may be occurring. For example, if there is a known bug, let them know with messaging that you know about it and when you expect it to be fixed.
#3. Have good self-service options
That USAA chatbot in the first section is one good example of a quality self-service option. Not everyone wants to message or talk with a support person, in fact, for many people, the need to do this will be off-putting. They want dependable self-service options for dealing with their issue.
Several apps are now using bots to help with customer support (Slackbot is a very well-known example), while others might use a very well-developed knowledge base or resource library. At a basic level, you should include “how to” guides for all of your functions and have some FAQs easily accessible.
“Quick start” guides are another extension of this, guiding users through the most expeditious way to get started with the app. Just make sure you also include room for feedback. How can users ask their questions and have important points included in the knowledge base that you might have missed?
4. Keep on top of support issues
When you’re having an issue with an app which you can’t get to the bottom of right away, what do you normally do? If you’re like many others, you probably hit Google to type in the problem to see if anyone else is talking about it or has found a solution.
If you hit that search and find that people have been complaining about the same problem for some time, what is your impression of the app going to be? Almost certainly you’re thinking that the app isn’t particularly well-maintained, why else is the same problem persisting?
A better approach from a business owner’s perspective is to be at the forefront of any persistent support issues. Post updates about progress fixing the problem and let people know when you expect that it will be resolved. If a user was to do a Google search or to search through your knowledge base, you want them to see your update coming up in the results to let them know you’re being proactive.
5. Adopt an “explain once” policy
Almost everyone will have had an experience similar to this; you have some kind of problem with a device you just bought or perhaps some software, so you call their support line. You spend five minutes explaining and answering questions, only to be told “I’m going to need to transfer you to our X department.” The X department gets onto the line, you have to explain all over again, only to be told they need to refer the issue to a manager.
By this stage, you’re getting frustrated and feeling a bit drained that you have to keep repeating your story over again. Why couldn’t that first person have taken notes before transferring the call?
This is an illustration of why your customer support should adopt an “explain once” policy. The customer shouldn’t have to repeat their issue to each new person – the issue should have been taken onboard the first time.
Giving thought to the many different ways a customer might get in contact, one possible solution is to centralize all support requests so that they’re going through one system. A tool like Help Scout is one solution which integrates with different platforms (such as chat apps you might be using) to centralize support.
6. Select the right people
This is one tip that might seem like a no-brainer, yet if it is, why do so many people in customer support roles seem to have absolutely no interest in supporting customers?! Not everyone is cut out for the role, in fact, dealing with customers is often one of the most challenging roles in a company because it involves facing all sorts of situations and personalities.
In SaaS startups, it’s often the case that they just have to go with who they have on their early team, the problem is that a founder doesn’t necessarily make a good customer service person. For example, are they the sort who will respond courteously to a genuine complaint from a customer? Or sarcastically put them on-blast on social media?
Even if you’re a fresh startup, it’s better to start off with customer support exactly as you mean to continue and have the right person in the right role, even if that’s just one or two hires early on. People will judge your company by the interactions they have – remember that this might also include the ability to answer any technical questions.
Don’t let all the hard work that has gone into your software be let down by a poor customer support experience. It is too easy for subscribers to cancel and not only will they do so, they’ll probably tell others about their experience.
Make it easy for users to get the support they need and give them options for doing so. They should be able to quickly locate help and request it through a mode that suits them.
Have high standards and uphold your entire team to them. Customer support might seem like one more feature in a long list, but you could consider it one of the most important ones.
Koombea builds beautiful apps with a focus on intuitive usability. Ask us how we can help you today.