customer support

Customer acquisition and retention are key factors to running a successful SaaS. If you have a killer product, but subpar customer support service, you likely aren’t going to keep existing customers around for very long, much less attract new ones. To keep your business running efficiently and effectively you need to consider how well your customer service efforts are running, how much money you’re pouring in, and how many resources you are allocating to support.

What good is an excellent product if you have lackluster service backing it up? Customers are much more likely to overlook a faulty product. Let’s face it: things break, malfunction, get bugs, you name it. But one bad experience with customer service is enough to taint a customer’s opinion of your product and your company.

“What should I be spending on customer support?”

While there’s really no “average” or “typical” amount that SaaS companies should spend on customer support and customer service, at least a small portion of your budget should be set aside.

How you break up the budget and how you decide what percentage of revenue should go toward customer support is dependent upon several factors.

Consider these few things:

  • How many customer requests are coming through on any given day? – If you’re receiving a low volume of requests, you logically don’t need to throw as many resources into customer support. However, keep in mind that the volume of requests you receive could be dependent upon how new your product is, how many sales you’re bringing in, how well you outline use and installation on your site, and how large your company is. Inevitably, the higher your sales, the higher the number of requests you’ll get. But, at this point, you’ll (hopefully) have some more money to commit to your customer service efforts.
  • How complex or complicated are the issues or requests? – If you’re only receiving simple, easily answered requests, you probably won’t be spending as much time on customer support. Since time is money, it means budgeting less for your efforts.
  • Do you offer live telephone support, live chat, or 24/7 support? – Similarly, if you offer live or 24/7 support, you have to budget enough to account for someone being available around the clock…or at least during work hours. An outsourced customer support option may be to your benefit if this is the case.
  • Where are you located? – If you choose not to outsource, you have to consider the cost of in-house customer support, including, but not limited to: the cost of real estate, cost of living, salary or hourly pay, and benefits.

“How can I cut customer support costs?”

Since many customers consider contacting customer support as a last resort, it’s important to have a generous number of resources available to streamline the process or perhaps eliminate the need for the customer to contact you at all, meaning your budget will be significantly smaller. Though there’s no way to make customer support completely free, there are a few measures you can take to cut down on your costs.

  • Compile a FAQ list and adjust UX/UI accordingly. – Once you pinpoint all of the most common questions you receive, determine which of those can be addressed by simply adjusting UX/UI. If the answer is within your system or on your website, but is hidden or just not intuitive, you can save yourself time and money in the long run by making adjustments on the front end.
  • Use case deflection to your advantage. – Once you’ve gotten the UX/UI issues out of the way, use the remaining FAQs as a buffer between the customer and customer support. Design your sight so that customers have to review the FAQ page before contacting support with the hopes that their question will be answered before they have to contact you. The FAQs should be extremely thorough and updated frequently.
  • Have canned responses for common questions at your staff’s disposal. – For those customers that either don’t read the FAQs or don’t read them thoroughly, have a list of approved answers to common requests. It will make your life much simpler and keep you from having to type the same answer over and over again.
  • Publish tutorials on your site. – Answer all of those common questions in an engaging way. “How To” and Tutorial videos, while a bit costly upfront, can save you time and money in the long run and keep you from having to repeatedly explain simple processes.

Jason LongJason Long is the founder and CEO of BrainLeaf and an Information Architect and Managing Partner at CodeWright. A self-professed serial entrepreneur, he is always interested in new businesses, new ideas, and new ways to change the world. He has over 15 years of experience in design and development and has served in a variety of different roles ranging from designer to Information Architect to CEO. He spends most of his time focusing on the build and development of new ventures while trying to travel the world.