Self serve SaaS is the future of customer service. By automating repetitive tasks and making it easy for customers to find answers themselves, self-serve SaaS can help improve your customer service process. I know this from personal experience; when my company switched to a self-serve SaaS platform, we saw our customer satisfaction scores go up and our support costs go down. If you’re looking to improve your customer service process, self-serve SaaS is worth considering.
Self Serve SaaS: The Pros and Cons
Self-serve software as a service or self serve SaaS is a type of subscription software that allows users to sign up and use the software without any assistance from the software provider.
This type of SaaS is typically designed for users who are comfortable using technology and do not need much hand-holding.
SaaS Sales Models and the Benefits of Self-Service
Before diving into the steps for automation, let’s review three common types of software as a service (SaaS) business models:
- Self-Serve Model — common for low-cost products. There’s no need for a dedicated sales team, and customers are willing to self-serve.
- Transactional Sales Model — higher priced products. There is a need for efficient inside sales and content marketing.
- Enterprise Model — complex products. There is a need for high-touch and lengthy sales cycles to convert prospects into customers.
For consumers, self-service can be more convenient and faster than traditional customer support methods. For companies, it can reduce the costs associated with providing support and free up your support staff to work on other projects.
Using a mix of a self-service and transaction-based model is a great way for software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies to scale up without hiring a large sales force. If you correctly identify the needs of your different users, you can combine these two models.
In the early days, you will help customers as they start using your software. While helpful for product improvement, it will soon become too time-consuming.
To onboard customers at scale, you will need to automate your communications.
In this guide, we’ll teach you how to do it.
Can you use this approach for all customers and all features of your product? Probably not.
Segmenting your customer base allows you to identify which customers are most likely to use self-service.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when evaluating customers:
Asking yourself these questions can help you better understand which features are most important to your customers and how you can best support them.
- Which features achieve early value?
- Which features require the most support?
- Which features are used by your highest-paying customers?
- Which features correlate with enterprise sales?
Automating part of your user onboarding process can be a huge benefit: it saves you time and resources and lets you focus your energies on high-value users.
If you’re not continually improving your user experience, you’re losing ground. Most UX changes are inexpensive, and the return on investment is immediate – any change you make to your current process can be immediately applied to the next customer.
It’s impossible to design the perfect experience, but Gall’s law states that if you want to build effective, complex systems, you should first start with a simple one and then make it more complex.
If you’re looking to improve your customer’s onboarding experience, “behavior-based” onboarding is an excellent way to do so. By following best practices and automating your processes, you can start reaping the benefits of a great customer experience.
How to Build a Successful Product
1. Talk To Your Customers
The best way to learn what success looks like for your customers is to talk to them directly. This can be done through interviews, surveys, or even just casual conversations. Once you have a good understanding of what they want to achieve, you can start mapping out a path to success.
There may be some common steps that all customers need to take, but there will also likely be some unique steps depending on the individual. The important thing is to make sure that each customer has a clear path to follow and that you are there to help them every step of the way.
We highly recommend the book “Deploy Empathy” by Michele Hansen. This book provides excellent advice on how to interview customers.
2. Track Success Metrics
Once you’ve defined what success is, you can define how you’ll measure it. This will mean defining what data you collect from your customers.
To track success, you’ll want to focus on key usage metrics, key lifecycle events, and custom events. By doing so, you’ll be able to get a clear picture of how your product is being used and what areas may need improvement.
Let’s use the Sparkle photography app as an example. Here’s what they can track to measure the success of their campaign:
- Key usage metrics: photos, albums
- Lifecycle events: trial_started, album_created, photo_uploaded
It doesn’t have to be complicated to start.
3. Define the Customer Journey
To map out your buyer’s journey, think about all the different stages of your product. These don’t have to be complex.
The stages of the customer lifecycle may vary between free trials and free-to-play games, but in general, the cycle is the same. Customers begin as users and hopefully convert to paying customers.
If they aren’t getting value from your product, they may eventually cancel your service.
By dividing your user base into segments based on their lifecycle stage, you can better target them with messaging that speaks to where they are in the customer journey.
When users join the trial segment of your email marketing list, they are usually sent an onboarding email that is designed to get them to activate. This usually means getting them to go from 0 to a certain number of activated accounts.
Here are the common free trial models:
Here’s a customer journey map of the Freemium Model:
4. Lead Your Users to the Aha Moments
When do people typically adopt your product? By now you should have a pretty good idea about that from talking to your customers.
Now, you can guide users through each step of your app’s onboarding process.
If you want to create a great onboarding experience for your customers, remove any tasks that don’t help them solve the one problem they came to you to solve. Support them with content so they can learn how to use your product more effectively.
A customer success team can set up an automated email sequence that is triggered when a certain action happens. For example, if a user hasn’t logged in for 30 days, an email can be sent to them offering assistance.
5. Automate Email
Now that you know what your customers need, you can streamline your interactions so they don’t have to keep repeating themselves.
There are four steps to implementing an automated message: pick an automation tool, track user behavior, create automated campaigns, and collect responses in a support inbox.
For customers who get stuck, write emails that provide value, help them achieve their goals, and encourage them to continue.
For active customers, send them emails that offer helpful tips on using more advanced features, request feedback on your service, or offer an annual plan.
All of these different interactions can be streamlined and optimized with automation.
In the end, you can learn more about our tool, which compares the top email service providers.
6. Streamline Your Support
Now that you can automatically send emails, you can focus on your inbound customer service requests. This is much easier than having to check in every request manually.
Using a helpdesk is a great way to automate your customer support.
Run Experiments to Optimize the Self-Service Process
There are a lot of ways to fix bugs in the app. Clearly state why you’re collecting information. Remove or add more steps to a process. Change the wording of an email. Redesign your forms. Improve call to action. Add social proof.
By employing a sales team and gathering data on how they interact with customers, you can constantly improve and refine your process.
If you’re looking to improve your customer service process, self serve SaaS is worth considering. With its ability to automate repetitive tasks and make it easy for customers to find answers themselves, self-serve SaaS can help take your customer service process to the next level.