Providing your SaaS product customers with self-service support means that you’re enabling them to complete tasks and troubleshoot by themselves.
While this is a tricky area for many companies, if you do it right then self-service has the ability to completely supercharge your support.
If you’re building a SaaS product that’s eventually going to scale to thousands of customers, it’s important to pay attention to your self service knowledge base portal and in-app product knowledge base right from the beginning.
Why self-service knowledge base is important for SaaS?
In a lot of cases, if your customers need to have human contact, you’ve already failed them.
Gone are the days of making phone calls to technical support and waiting for hours on one end before the line cuts off, and hurling the phone against the wall in a rage. Today’s support is at worst instant, and at best not needed in the first place.
Customers want support, and they want it fast. The thing is, after your customers buy your product, they’re not stuck with it. They can churn at lightspeed if they’re not receiving the service they expect and move to a competitor.
When using internet-based software, customers have come to expect their service to be the same way (the way how they self discovered the product in the first place) with knowledge bases and in-app tutorials.
Your support team should be a key part of your operations. They should be treated as an elite force responsible for keeping your customers happy. That means you don’t want to be clogging up their virtual in-trays with queries that can easily be handled by a KB article.
In this case, it’s important your knowledge base is good, regularly updated and relevant.
Automated self-service for scaling your business
Companies like Amazon are structured in a way that’s fully automated, so they can scale without impacting customer service.
Can you recollect when is the last time you contacted Amazon support? Most likely you have never called their telephone support.
All customer questions are directed to the relevant page in their knowledge base, before being connected to a support agent as a last resort.
This works because the vast majority of Amazon queries are the same, and don’t need an agent to respond every time. Amazon have been very good at automating their customer service. They can take on as many customers as they like and still provide the same experience.
Automation is good as long as it works. SaaS companies can learn a lot from Amazon.
When self-service doesn’t work
That doesn’t mean you should refuse to let your customers talk to a human.
It’s best to just allow customers to contact a human whenever they feel like it. Some of the best options for this is to introduce in-app communication or having chat support on the websites and knowledgebase portals.
The key is to think about your audience. Imagine it this way: your knowledge base is not serving its purpose if customers are connecting to your support agents livid with rage. It should be the first port of call, while only the most complex cases need to talk to an agent.
Customers will be happy to have their time respected and be less angry. A number of companies are moving towards live chat solutions like Drift, Olark, Intercom, etc, to help them connect better with their customers in real-time.
Boost conversions with automation
Your knowledge base is also a way of providing automated support to your prospects. They will have many questions about your product before they take the trial or make the purchase decision. Have your knowledge base answer their needs.
Automated customer service will help to improve conversion and on boarding while reducing churn. At minimum, this can be achieved through automated drip campaigns, a series of knowledge base articles, or a combination of both.
Your knowledge base is a key part of your automated self-service strategy. Especially in SaaS, customers are a do-it-yourself kind of breed. They’re smart enough to solve problems themselves – just give them the tools.
This means you can scale your SaaS almost infinitely – as much as your software allows – because you don’t need to increase your support headcount.
Common actions should be automated. For example, if someone wants to upgrade, or to cancel their subscription (heaven forbid) then make this as easy as clicking a button.
Make the most of your knowledge base
This efficiency and versatility means that knowledge bases are now the go-to form of customer support for companies. 67% of users prefer self-service support according to a study by Zendesk, with 91% saying they would use a knowledge base.
Agorapulse reduced their volume of incoming support tickets by a staggering 50%. They did this by launching a knowledge base and then using data insights to ensure it met customer needs.
They identified the keywords that users were typing into the search bar. For example, users were searching for how to add new accounts. Previously, no article was being displayed that matched the search query, and leading to a new support ticket every time. Updating the existing KB article by tagging it with the right keywords drastically reduced the number of tickets.
It’s not just about getting fewer support tickets, although this is a part of it. It’s about empowering customers to get stuff done by themselves. As a bonus, this will reduce your support wait times without the need to hire more agents.
A knowledge base is an important way to provide your customers with the self-service they’re seeking.
It depends whether the query is complex or simple. Use your knowledge base to deal with the most common, run-of-the-mill queries in a timely manner that anticipates your customer’s next move.
Efficiently escalate complex queries to your friendly support agents and resolve them for uncommonly satisfied customers.
Customers will be happy as long as they feel valued and that you’ve put effort into making their experience a good one. This message may or may not be conveyed by your knowledge base. Use copy and design choices to show customers they are valued.
Your customer support should be almost non-existent, because your customers can easily serve themselves.