It’s 10PM. Do you know where your customers are? You can be sure at least a couple of them are using your application, maybe with varying levels of success. What if one runs into an issue, or has a how-to question? Can they easily find an answer on their own? Or are they destined to go to bed frustrated?
Or what if it’s 10AM, and you notice that a customer in the midst of onboarding has submitted several questions in your online user community, and they aren’t getting any answers. Should you reach out and provide personal assistance? Should you make sure the answers are available and easy to find in your knowledge base? Should you do both?
Hamlet’s not the only one facing a dilemma. In our role as purveyors of Customer Success, how do we know when it’s the right time to jump in and serve customers personally, and when it makes sense to direct them to non-staffed resources?
The goal is to balance: Too far over to the high-touch side, and unless you’re charging north of $5k/month, the service model will at some point likely become difficult to scale. And even if your application and pricing do lend themselves to supporting an assigned Customer Success Manager for every customer account on an ongoing basis, if you’re not taking advantage of self-service at all, you are missing out on potential cost savings as well as some other key benefits.
Self-service resources tend to have the advantage in the following circumstances:
Notice I did not have on the list above: “When your customer is in the top tier.” Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your highest value or enterprise-level customers only want one-on-one service. What they ultimately want is the ability to get excellent answers quickly via the channel that suits their needs at the moment.
Here are some circumstances where personal attention is usually the best approach:
But does all of this apply, even at the very low end of the MRR spectrum? Is there any price point at which customers should only self-serve? If your SaaS offering is priced in the $100/month ballpark or lower, it goes without saying that you will not have one-on-one relationships with each of your customers, and maybe not even with any of them. But that is not to say that you will not personally serve them. Ensure that there are plenty of high-quality self-service resources at their disposal. And in addition to steadily steering them to help themselves, give them at least one channel for connecting directly with your company if needed. Even for the low, low price of a Netflix membership, I’m given the option to chat or call if that movie just won’t stream and I need to talk to someone.
At the end of the day, it’s not a matter of doing one or the other, but rather of doing both well. Here are a few key take-aways to keep in mind in the process: