A day of important work is going well, until I'm interrupted by slow loading times and error pages. "I can't possibly get my work done, I'm going to be so behind!" I try to work around the problem, but nothing seems to work. Luckily, my vendor has a support email that I can reach out to. We pay a premium, so I'm guaranteed a maximum 2 hour turn-around time. Everything will be fixed quickly, right? Right?
The way that a support ticket goes can build up or break down trust with a SaaS product. Over time, small customer experience flaws can build up into a larger picture for the company. In the best case, this is a picture of competency and sincerity. In the worst case, it's a picture of incompetency.
Let's look at a few common support scenarios and how the experience can be negative or positive. These scenarios are fictitious, but represent experiences I've had firsthand or have seen others encounter.
Don't Stick to the Script
I send a chat via the bubble on the bottom of my screen and I'm greeted by the friendliness of an agent that I've worked with before. We go back and forth, and something feels familiar. I seem to have had this exact conversation before, but that's okay because we're just doing some information gathering now. The agent hands me off to a ticket.
I explain the problem over email and receive a response about...something completely unrelated. "Why are you telling me this?" I kindly let the agent know that the problem is something else and get another canned response back. I'm starting to get a bit frustrated now, but it's important to be kind even through the frustration. We go back and forth a few times before I'm escalated again.
What Went Wrong?
Scripts are great for information gathering or for known problems. They can save agents a ton of time and give the customer a better experience from the faster resolution speed. However, it's easy to over-use scripts.
Agents should feel that they have the ability and encouragement to quickly leave a script when they see it's necessary.
Create a Good Experience
Empower your agents with the knowledge to know when a script should be used and when they're going to deviate. Scripts serve a very valuable role, but avoid judging agents by how often they stick to a script. This incentivizes them to use the script even in situations where they shouldn't.
Chats are a great place to use scripts, but the best chat experience is one where the agent's personality and problem-solving skills shine through.
Explaining the Problem
I want to get this problem figured out quickly, so I load up my email with as much helpful information as I can. I include times that the problem occurred, a video of it happening, and what I tried to do to work around it. I'm greeted by a very kind message from an agent. They go back and forth collecting some information from me, until they explain that this technical problem is being escalated to someone more experienced.
The higher-tier agent has seen something like this before, so we hop on a call to demonstrate the issue and grab some additional information. Everything is great so far, but they're unable to help me. This is a problem that they haven't seen, so they need to escalate it higher.
I'm okay with that, but the next message from a technical support specialist also asks for a call. We hop on again and I explain the same things as I did in the last call and my initial email. We go through a fairly complex troubleshooting session where they capture information from my browser. Lucky for me, they have seen this one before and help to solve my problem. An email exchange and 2 thirty minute calls scheduled over a few days.
What Went Wrong?
In this scenario, I am asked to explain the same thing to multiple people. This can be important, especially if things were missed, but it creates a feeling of "I'm just repeating myself now."
In addition, escalations to a higher tier were done fairly quickly. Why were those tiers not looped in from the very beginning? The final agent was able to immediately fix my issue, so they have some information that others do not have.
Create a Good Experience
Develop a process that allows for internal sharing of knowledge between customer service agents. Before a call or diagnosing the problem, have all of the information available to be reviewed and make a point to go through it. This takes time up front, but can prevent the entire call from happening in some situations.
Customers feel that you're most competent when they only have to provide something once, and if their problem is solved with the fewest number of agents.
A metric to use to solve this could be "number of ticket hand-offs" alongside "agent level at resolution." A high number of ticket hand-offs combined with a senior agent level at resolution would indicate that your lower-level agents need additional information, better tools, or more training.
Spend What's Needed to Create Success
The final example is a story from a recent experience I had. It's not SaaS related, but I think it's relevant to providing SaaS support.
I updated my Macbook recently. This is generally a stressful event, but I've never had a problem before. This time, something bad happened. After the update, my Wi-Fi was completely disabled. I tried re-installing the operating system, safe mode, everything that was recommended from Apple's email support process. Unfortunately, I was going to be dropping my computer off at the Apple Store.
The process at the store was polished and well thought-out. The space was new, with separation between troubleshooting and retail. There was a quick diagnostic process and my machine was shipped to Apple's repair center.
This was a new machine, so of course it was under warranty, but this process can often be slow and unpredictable. However, Apple had my machine back to me within 3 days. They immediately replaced a piece in my computer and delivered the computer to my house. I was able to track the progress of the delivery and repair.
The Good Experience
Apple does a great job at spending money where it really matters. I was frustrated to have to deal with the problem at all, but they made the experience as painless as possible. The most unexpected thing was that they delivered the machine to my house and didn't make me go back to the store.
Pretty much no one has as much money as Apple to spend on their support process, but it's important to make sure that your allocation considers that good experience can make or break your brand. Selling customers is just step one on the long journey of happiness and retainment.