Rapid growth SaaS companies seem to share an outlook on customer support. They rally around the idea that giving excellent support is integral to their success.
The best companies—those growing rapidly and taking over their product category—recognize that helping their customers achieve their Desired Outcome is critical, and they've operationalized around this simple notion in the form of Customer Success.
By helping customers reach their goals, companies can reap long-term benefits.
There’s only one thing you can do when you’re really scaling, [and it’s] customer success. Because if you make your customers happy, you’ll get more customers.
How taking extra care of customers propels growth
Support propels growth by improving customer relationships. Companies benefit from loyal customers because they:
- Are willing to spend a larger wallet share, leading to increased CLV
- Are more willing to consider additional products and services
- Are less likely to churn
- Will serve as a brand advocate
Loyal customers are less likely to churn, and churn has a big impact on a company’s bottom line. A company can scale more rapidly as the lifetime value of customers increases and the cost of acquisition decreases.
Increasing wallet share also helps grow a customer’s lifetime value and stacks new revenue, creating what is known as negative churn.
Additionally, loyal customers also contribute to a company’s growth by way of advocacy. Which may be the most important—yet hardest to reach—benefit of excellent customer support.
The best companies understand the compounding power of growth from their existing customer base through expanded use and customer advocacy and don’t leave those important growth levers up to chance.
Brand advocates are highly satisfied customers and are more valuable than average customers. Advocacy activity—such as positive ratings and reviews—have a positive quantifiable impact.
80% of growth comes from existing customers
Advocates can act in multiple ways to help stack revenue at virtually no extra cost. This often comes in the form of referrals, second order customers or ratings and reviews.
Here are 5 customer support principals the top SaaS companies follow to create advocates and find growth Tweet
Great support starts from great listening
Slack has attributed much of its growth from paying acute attention to its earliest customers.
Where some people might see a huge customer-service burden, Butterfield sees one of Slack’s greatest assets...
By practicing good listening, user feedback is better absorbed. A team then turns feedback into actions and improves current and future customer experiences.
Make active listening your core competency.
Your customers become happier because you’re listening to them, and as a result of that you end up building a better product…because of customer success your company is able to grow faster and it is able to grow at a more capital efficient rate.
Every inquiry is an opportunity
Often when a customer talks to support, they are frustrated and looking for help to figure something out. Great SaaS companies work hard at each touch point to please their customers and move them closer to becoming advocates.
We view every interaction that comes our way—every email, tweet, question, review, mention and more—as a true privilege. We know that it means someone took special time out of their day to think about us or get in touch with us. It’s a chance for us to have a conversation, to learn something we didn’t know before, to think about what we could do differently or better.
Moz Support will always take the opportunity to go above and beyond customer expectations. Every conversation we have with a customer is a chance to turn it into a story. Great stories can turn a customer into a promoter. Whether we send our favorite .gif or create a personal walkthrough for that customer we see it as a brief opportunity to make their support issues into a positive moment.
By seeing customer support inquiries as a positive learning opportunity rather than a hassle, companies see the value of going above and beyond.
Every customer interaction is a marketing opportunity. If you go above and beyond on the customer service side, people are much more likely to recommend you.
Support is part of the company vision
Another prerequisite to great customer support is having founders and executives that believe in its value. Leaders that champion support have teams that follow-suit.
Right from the beginning, we decided that great customer service would be half of the vision that we had for Buffer.
But the benefits of great support can be hard to quantify. This makes it difficult for executives and team leaders to justify their investment in it.
- What if it costs 30% more to hire people that are excellent at helping people and representing your values?
- What if your velocity as an engineering team is 20% slower because everyone pitches in to fix bugs as they happen?
- What if the business could generate more revenue by making “premium support” available on higher pricing tiers?
All of these decisions put your values to the test. If you opt in favor of the best possible customer experience instead of things that add short-term value, success is extremely difficult to measure.
Besides injecting capital, there are other ways to champion customer support effectively in an organization. One can address any preconceptions of its value or integrate support as an important and authoritative role on the team.
By making sure the support team is empowered to provide the level of support our customers deserve, by backing them up by developer resources and trust from the C-level folks, by always seeking to do the right thing, the support role is transformed from an icky experience no one enjoys, into an experience that feels good for everyone.
Many SaaS founders show the value they see in support by reading or responding to inquiries themselves or by asking all teams to contribute.
Everyone contributes to support
There’s something for everyone to gain by contributing to support regardless of their role.
Marketing – knowing your customers allows you to reach more of the right ones.
Sales – doesn’t end with closing a sale. To retain customers, you need to know their problems.
Customer Success / Account Management – making sure your customers succeed with your product by knowing their struggles.
Engineering / Product – knowing what to build for your customers
With all hands contributing to support, a team will learn to value it more. Direct access to customer feedback will help each department learn and improve.
The benefits of a shared support system are enormous. Not only can you more easily automate technical issues, but you also end up improving your company’s messaging, reducing confusion around features, modifying pricing elements that don’t jive properly, and cleaning out issues from every other customer-facing element of business.
Upon polling the 30-person Zapier team, by far the most beneficial part of everyone doing support is the opportunity to see the everyday problems that customers face.
Companies find that engineers who spend time interacting with customers are more motivated to do the work.
We have our engineers take support calls because engineers like to code their way out of the support queue rather than execute manual repetitive tasks...If we can avoid future support issues by adding a feature or fixing a bug that makes the product easier to install, use, or manage, then everybody wins.
Doing all company support gets engineers to solve customer problems faster. They are hearing about the problem first-hand, they can empathize with the customer. Those same engineers would be skeptical if they heard about these problems second-hand. Then the customer is blown away that they are talking to someone who actually can solve their problem.
Personality encourages happiness
Companies that give caring customer support don’t shy away from having a personality.
Be personable. Have your own vibe. Everyone at Vero is witty and believes in themselves, so we don’t control what you write, we just work with people who we trust will do a good job.
And above all, they encourage happiness to every customer they come across.
When a person writes in and gets surprised by thoughtfulness and kindness, it changes their day for the better. We spread confidence, happiness, kindness and good vibes through our support. It’s something we see as the most rewarding aspect of our work.
We don’t care that a great experience is hard to measure, we just know it’s the way we like to be treated by our favorite brands and that makes it good enough. I understand not all businesses choose to function that way, but in this case we feel it gives us a leg up in building a brand people love.
The key to growth is caring
Caring about customers and helping them reach their goals may seem natural quality for a successful SaaS company, but it sometimes gets lost amongst other goals and initiatives. The companies that take a few extra moments each day to do right by their customers will see rapid growth as a successor.
The key for us has just been caring. This is a strange thing for me to say – as our team is all so dedicated to our customers, but people always say "you guys care too much."
I always think "well, I hope so! Otherwise why are we doing this!" It seems many customers have been burned by some sort of blasé support, so if you can just carry on being caring...it'll always be a huge advantage, I reckon.