Customer support has always been important in the SaaS industry, but its importance is only growing.
Customers expect more authenticity in their relationships with the companies they do business with — and excellent customer support is perhaps the most critical component of customer relationships.If you’re not providing award-winning customer support, you might find yourself quickly losing your competitive edge. Click To Tweet
At Chargify, we’ve always prioritized customer service, but have found that certain changes we’ve made along the way have made a big difference in the level of customer satisfaction we’ve been able to provide.
We’re currently enjoying a customer satisfaction rating of 98%, and we were recently named a SaaS Customer Success Award winner in the 2019 APPEALIE SaaS Awards.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the steps we took to build an award-winning customer support team that delivers service that our customers love, including:
- Get proactive with customer relationships
- Focus on successful onboarding
- Get the entire support team on the same page
- Tailor support directly to merchants’ needs
- Make it easy for customers to get help
- Solicit feedback often, then translate it into tangible outcomes
Get Proactive With Customer Relationships
Like most SaaS businesses, Chargify started off with a single, cohesive support team.
However, as our company evolved, we created a few “channels” within that team to better address our customers’ more specific needs.
Specifically, we designated a customer success team as well as an onboarding team (which we’ll discuss next).
The support team still tackles requests and problems as they’re reported – and anticipates needs before they arise as much as possible using data and analysis – but the customer success team keeps the customer’s long-term success in mind. The customer success team periodically checks in with customers regardless of their support activity, actively monitors their goals and watches for signs of success or struggle as they use our platform.
Waiting for customers to contact you is not a good way to build a relationship. Reaching out proactively shows that you have the customer’s best interest in mind and is a great way to build trust and understanding that lasts for the long-term.
Our customer success team keeps in constant communication with our customers either via phone, email or through on-site visits. It is the best way for us to get in their shoes and understand the daily challenges they’re trying to solve for, how Chargify helps and what additional functionalities we can provide in the future to help accelerate their growth even more.
We think NiceReply sums up the complementary roles of the customer support and customer success teams well in its article on the topic: “Success teams mark the path. Support teams keep it clear of obstacles.”
Focus on Successful Onboarding
In our experience, onboarding is a particularly crucial time in the customer lifecycle. In fact, we found along the way, that a surprising amount of churn can happen in the onboarding stage.
Without careful attention and support, customers can fall off in between when the sale closes and when they move to regular support. And since this churn is occurring during a handoff, (or lack thereof) it can easily go unnoticed and unrecorded.
The onboarding stage is the point when a customer is arguably most vulnerable — they are new to your product, they are novices in how to use it best, they have no loyalty to your company and have built minimal relationships with your team up to this point. It is a sensitive time that requires extra care and attention.
Plus, problems from onboarding can also go on to cause unhappy customers later. Retently, a net promoter score program, sums up the problem of poor onboarding with the following infographic.
That’s why at Chargify, we dedicated an onboarding team to stay laser-focused on getting new clients up and running with the platform. Our onboarding team gains a deep understanding of the customer’s needs so that they can configure the application to suit them. They give new customers direct onboarding and implementation guidance so they never feel alone in their journey.
With a solution as robust as Chargify, it’s imperative we give new customers close attention and guidance so they know as much as possible about the features and functionality of our product.
Get The Entire Support Team on the Same Page
Within the customer support team, the customer success and onboarding channels each have direction and tools to handle their support specialties.
However, we also set cross-functional goals and give the entire team transparency into results — encouraging all channels to work together as a cohesive unit.
This goes back to the importance of alignment among all customer-facing, revenue-focused departments.
When sales, marketing and support teams understand that they’re working together with a shared goal of increasing revenue and enabling customers’ success, it can make a huge difference in the customer experience and the bottom line.
Tailor Support Directly to Merchants’ Needs
At Chargify, we’ve made the conscious decision to specialize in the billing and revenue management needs of SaaS businesses.
This helps us ensure that our support team stays up-to-date on relevant industry news and trends (such as compliance issues), and that they have a deep understanding of the specific challenges our clients face.
But even within the same industry, SaaS businesses have very different needs. There are a variety of stages of growth, a variety of business models and too many different billing models to count.
That’s why our support team takes a very personal approach to how we serve. We fully embrace the high-touch, hands-on requirements that this personalization deserves but our underlying goal is to prevent the need for heroics and high-touch situations altogether.
Essentially, we want to make sure that our support team knows and understands each of our clients’ growth goals and challenges. We see it as part of our job to help them meet those goals. After all, when they succeed, we do too.
To gain that deep understanding, our team has plenty of conversations with customers. This is what helps us tailor our services directly to each of their needs. We take every inch of feedback to heart and pride ourselves on taking direct action against any input we receive from our customers.
Make it Easy for Customers to Get Help
The flip side of taking a proactive, personal approach to customer service is making sure that it’s easy for customers to reach back out to us whenever they need to and provide them with the resources they need to self-serve should they prefer that method.
We all know from using software ourselves that sometimes you’re happy to get the answers you need quickly with help documentation, but for more urgent or complicated issues, you might want to chat or talk to someone as soon as possible.
Making it easy for customers to reach you when they need it means giving them plenty of communication channels.
We strive to be as easy to reach as possible using the following tools:
- A 24/7 call line and email support (this availability is important for international clients)
- The ability to open a support ticket directly on the website
- A live chat window for users within the software
- A robust and well-organized self-help library full of articles and videos
- An active Twitter account that is monitored 24/7 by our team
Solicit Feedback Often, Then Translate it Into Tangible Outcomes
Initially, our feedback mechanisms relied heavily on Net Promoter Score.
We would survey our users, then analyze the results and use them to get a sense of how we could evolve and further enable their growth.
However, over time, we have made the shift to a “closed-loop” model for collecting customer feedback. This model ensures that every piece of feedback from a customer leads to a real and tangible outcome that we can communicate back to them.
We still care about our NPS and our customer satisfaction metrics. But I’ve found that looking beyond the numbers to analyze the direct, verbatim feedback we are receiving from customers is even more valuable. By analyzing their comments, we can look deeper into underlying trends that are causing satisfaction (and discuss ways to repeat, scale or operationalize these activities) or dissatisfaction (and discuss ways to mitigate these issues in the future).
At Chargify, each piece of feedback gets a direct response from our support team that explains how their feedback was handled.
It looks a little like this:
The changes that result from customer feedback may be updates to product features, changes to internal procedures or documents or simply more guidance on how to resolve an issue.
We believe that staying in close contact with our customers and investing in the tools and people that allow us to deliver a tailored support experience are what have enabled us to deliver award-winning support at Chargify.
For more on the APPLEALIE awards and the other 2019 winners, check out their website here.
Great SaaS needs great customer support — we’ve got you covered! Reach out to our industry-leading, award-winning billing experts today.