To Have Great Support — All Of It Has to Be Great

The other day I had a whiplash moment as a customer of a Unicorn SaaS company.  I had a large problem with a piece of software with a lot of integrations in it, and it really wasn’t clear whose problem it was.  But one of the vendors stepped up and said they’d solve the problem.  They worked over the weekend and fixed it!  Beyond above and beyond.

I became the world’s biggest super fan of this vendor.  I said put me on the website, make me a reference account, anything.  I became Mr NPS 100.

And then something happened.  The fix … broke.  And things were sort of bad again.

Under the adage of No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, I went back to the vendor that did the fix and told them the fix didn’t work anymore.  After some research, they said I’d have to go to a third party to fix the problem.  That it wasn’t their problem, it was another vendor, and that they would no longer be able to help me.

Perhaps that was all it was fair to ask of them.  Still, I then became NPS 0.  I no longer had a solution.  After an initial heroic effort.

Then again, the other day, I had another NPS-destroying interaction.  Another vendor that I loved asked me to do a case study.  It was a busy time with Annual coming up, but I loved the product, so not only did I carve out a full hour for the case study, but I had to rearrange my whole afternoon.  So I really lost a half day to do this case study.

I prepped.  I shared fun stories.  I made them look great.  And then, at the very end, the marketer doing the case study told me, “I will let you know if we decide to use any part of it.”

Dude.  I basically gave up half a day to help a junior marketer with a case study that didn’t remotely benefit me at all — and maybe you’ll use it?

NPS from 70 to 0, once again.

OK one more :)  Over the holidays I found a new vendor for SaaStr.  I spent days trying and deploying the app.  And then I ran into a wall.  A feature didn’t scale as expected.  So I hit chat.  It was the holidays, so their Intercom said don’t expect an answer for a week.  A week?? Yes, the app is very easy to use.  But I dedicated days of my time.  Now I need to wait a week for help?  NPS 70 to 0, once again.

My point is great support is far more than solving a problem here or there.  And importantly, even if you do a lot of things well — one bad piece of the customer experience can ruin even the best elements of support:

  • The experience as a prospect and with sales should be great.  No break-up emails, no pricing games, no drama with sales.  A bit more on that here.
  • The onboarding experience should be great.  Don’t fall down here.  It doesn’t matter if your product is so easy to use, almost everyone needs some onboarding.  How good is yours?  What % of your customers are 100% deployed at the time they paid?  Or within some short period?
  • The chat has to be fast and effective.  Bots are fine.  But chat has to solve my problem — fast.  A wiki and a bot are not enough in many cases.
  • Pricing can’t randomly go up.  That just breaks the relationship.  Don’t make me loathe that renewal email.
  • If a customer does you a favor, they deserve 5-star treatment for life.  Don’t forget the folks that joined your webinar, did a case study for you, etc.  Don’t forget because they won’t.
  • Customers should know who their CS rep is immediately.  And always have someone there to help.  If you don’t get CS help on Day 1, it’s not really there.
  • Don’t hide downtime or bugs from customers.  Especially when they see them.  Don’t claim it’s “lag” or “a few customers may be impacted”.  Customers know.  Especially the ones that have built software.  Lying about issues and downtime is another form of bad customer support and experience.
  • You may actually need to answer the phone.  Yes, some customers just want to pick up the phone for help.  It’s frustrating when you can’t get a hold of anyone.

Map your customer journey from first contact through year 10.  Map out each possible interaction.  And see what you can do to improve all of them.

And make sure when you reach out, do NPS surveys, etc. … you ask which part is weakest.  It probably will surprise you.

One weak link can undermine even the best sales, support, onboarding, or success teams.

Published on February 28, 2020

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