Briefing: The Process of SaaS Support
Despite the huge impact that the shift to the Cloud has brought to the software industry, companies are still struggling to understand and to adapt to some key aspects of the change. This is especially true in the profession and practice of Customer Support. The SaaS & Support Project was initiated to analyze both the current-state and to identify best practices and concepts for a sustainable Future-State for Customer Support in the SaaS/Cloud era. In this Briefing, we will talk about the Process of providing effective customer support, and respond to a variety of questions.
Shared Struggles; Common Questions
For SaaS vendors and traditional software companies alike, there is a very appropriate curiousity: What are other companies doing about Customer Support? Other questions quickly follow:
- Where and how should we properly set the customers’ expectations about Support responsiveness and quality?
- Do we need to offer 24X7 support service?
- What access channels or points should we provide for support interactions?
- How should the access channels be set up for most effective usage?
- When do SaaS customers tend to make the most support requests?
- What are the best practices in categorizing support case records?
- What classes of support requests are other SaaS vendors receiving?
- How are cases being resolved?
- What metrics should be used for the support contract center?
The essential question is: What should your company be doing? The answer to it, however, largely depends upon the strategic decisions that Senior Management makes about the business as a whole. Those foundational issues will be discussed in the Strategy Briefing.
Table of Contents:
This Briefing will present the findings and recommendations from the Project research as regards the Process or operation of a SaaS customer support group. It is not intended as an absolute, for both the research and the development of the SaaS/Cloud industry sector are far from complete. The intent is that material herein be a starting point of an extended discussion. To read the Briefing, use the direct links (in blue) below to go directly to any specific page. From the table below, links will open in a new window.
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Definition: The Process of Support
In its essence, a customer support contact center is a knowledge inventory operation. There are access channels, various kinds of servicing actions, and knowledge repositories.
The Process of the center covers the usage of the various channels and repositories, workflow/operation of the staff, and includes such aspects as the hours of operation, categories and volumes of service requests received, and the resolution of open items. Various metrics are used to measure the process and evaluate its effectiveness.
The foundation for most of the decisions to be made about the process of the team needs to be established by the senior management team as part of the global strategy of the company.
There is a key aspect of this knowledge inventory operation that is frequently overlooked. The knowledge inventory itself requires maintenance, and that maintenance comes at a cost. Over time, the contents tend to degrade in value if they are not updated or retired when no longer useful.
Every SaaS support group should have a set of process maps showing how the various access channels function in connection with the knowledge resources. To remain accurate, and to keep the operation in alignment with its design, these maps will have to be constantly tested, validated and updated. Every day, in every type of customer contact center, many tactical decisions are made in the course of responding to customer interactions. It is all too easy for such tactical decisions to become strategic policy over time, ultimately to result in the creation of variances to the design and functioning of the center. Unless the maps are maintained, inefficiencies can creep in and sap both the productivity and the profitability of the group and company.
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