Here's Why After-Sales Customer Support is Everything for Saas Businesses

Building long-term relationships with customers after they buy



Kindra Cooper
01/30/2019

customer support

Saas (Software as a service) businesses are under intense pressure to provide 24/7 customer support from specialist agents, many of them trained engineers. Software companies not only serve a global audience, which requires them to be timezone-agnostic, but with the profits they rake in from subscription models and the fact that their customer base tends to be more digitally literate than average, it makes sense that customer loyalty and satisfaction are rated on after-sales care as much as the customer’s experience with the product itself.

As such, the main goal of the customer support team is customer success, which takes a long-term view of the customer experience beyond a single touchpoint, and considers the outcomes the customer is able to achieve using the product.

“My primary goal unequivocally is customer success with our products and services. Everything we do is based around that,” Rob Poach, senior director of global service delivery at live streaming cloud software provider Wowza, said in a recent online event with CCW Digital, ‘Driving Performance in Digital Channels.’

Poach’s team serves a spectrum of customers, from live event producers trialing a demo to enterprise-wide admins who run the product in a live event environment, streaming concerts and sporting events to college commencement ceremonies. For this reason, routing of support tickets is determined by the customer through the front-end interface.

Wowza’s customer portal allows users to self-identify their skill level with the technology, their region, and the urgency of their query so it can be routed to the right agent and prioritized accordingly.

“It might also indicate how to best handle the ticket - via email or proposing a phone call or a screen share session,” said Poach. When it comes to technical troubleshooting, customer service reps at Saas businesses are also charged with knowing which digital channel works best for different types of issues.

Companies like Dropbox and Squarespace are declarative about not offering phone support expressly for the customer’s convenience, claiming that the types of queries they receive are best handled online, where customers can share web activity and upload multimedia files.

“Each channel is unique and certain issues are best handled in specific channels,” Poach explained.

In the urgency of the live event environment, offering customers real-time assistance is paramount. Questions on product capabilities are better suited to chat, while issues like configuration reviews warrant a phone call or screen share session.

“Part of our job and how we add value is we understand the customer need better than the customer,” Poach added. Like most customer support teams, the Wowza website uses cookies to see customers’ web activity while they are browsing the site, which pages they linger on, what links they click, and offers proactive support through web chat to help answer any questions or help with a purchase.

When your product is software, your knowledge base and self-service infrastructure are pivotal factors in the customer experience. The extent to which customers can help themselves when they experience a software glitch or are simply confused factors into whether they renew their yearlong subscription or take their business elsewhere.

For the high-value customers that frequently run high-stakes events broadcast to a wide audience, Poach ensures that the same team of engineers is assigned to the client so that they become familiar with the customer’s specific pain points, needs and level of experience with the technology.

“Knowing your customers is huge, and that’s become an expectation not just in support but in customer loyalty,” Poach said.

Multi-channel customer support options leads to what is known in the industry as asynchronous messaging, where a customer’s interaction with a brand is an on-and-off relationship on as-needed, on-demand basis. For example, a customer might start a web chat with an agent, abandon the chat, and then file a support ticket a week later. Combined with a subscription model typical of software companies, the number of touchpoints that customer has with the business can be infinite.

Chats over conversational commerce platforms like Whatsapp or Apple Business Chat allow customers to start and stop conversations as they please, as opposed to a phone call with an inbound agent that’s considered “one and done” once the customer’s issue is resolved or until the next time they call.

In the world of asynchronous messaging, it’s more difficult for contact centers to determine performance metrics, where traditional KPIs like handle times and first-call resolution don’t apply.

“For chat I look at how long a customer waited until we picked up the chat, how long between responses, the duration, the topic,” explained Poach. “Does that chat move into a ticket or was the support agent able to resolve the customer request in that medium?”

For support tickets, Poach also looks at the number of replies needed to resolve that ticket. Such metrics give a simultaneous readout on customer effort and agent effectiveness; the fewer the replies and the shorter the duration of the conversation or period for which the ticket is open, the faster the resolution.