See how "perceived support" affects your customers willingness to pay.

In the software business, we have always *thought* that offering great support is good for business.  We all know that support can reduce customer churn or attrition- potentially saving a business a huge amount of money in the long run.  Furthermore, happy customers become a street force of evangelists who help spread the word and drive adoption of our products and services.

For SAAS businesses, there is now hard data that actually proves how beneficial offering great support can be, and it might just change the way businesses think of support- from a cost center to a profit center! 

How perceived support quality affects a customers willingness to pay

In a recent video, the CEO of ProfitWell, Patrick Cambell investigated the correlation between great customer support and willingness to pay.  His research looked at the "perceived support" quality of a brand, and attempted to correlate that with how much customers are willing to spend.  What the research shows is that products with very positively perceived support resulted in a 23% increase in willingness to pay!  Somewhat surprising is the discovery that very negatively perceived support did not hurt willingness to pay by nearly as much (12%).

This presents a very real opportunity for businesses to get ahead, and anecdotally, could be one the reasons why Apple can get so much for their products.

How perceived support quality impacts retention

In taking a look at retention, there were fewer surprises.  Offering great support resulted in better retention than offering poorly perceived support.  On average, companies with positively perceived support did around 10% better at retaining customers.

Okay, so you want to work on improving your support?  Here are 3 things you can start doing today:

1. Give customers multiple options for solving their own problems

Understand that there are a number of different "personas" when it comes to getting support.  Some people will only ever contact a human.  Some are stubborn and will search Google endlessly for a solution, refusing to ask for help.  Others feel embarrassed and their pride prevents them from asking for help.  Some like to be independent and will read every bit of content you can give them.  Some people are too busy to be bothered.

In reality, most people fall into several of these "personas".  Your job is to make sure you provide a way to help each of them.  And speed matters- the one thing that almost all customers will use to judge your "perceived support quality" is speed.  People hate hate hate waiting for help.

2. Let customers know that their voice matters

Customers want to be heard.  Whether they are reading your knowledge base, chatting with an agent, sending an email to your support address, or engaging with a support chatbot, show that their input it valued.  Try to learn something from every single customer interaction, good bad or otherwise.

First of all, provide customers multiple ways to be heard.  Just as in the personas example above, offer multiple ways for customers to voice their opinion.  This could be a way to rate your service, use a star/thumbs up, offer gramatical corrections themselves, or simply provide comments.  Teach your support staff to tag tickets for later analysis, jot notes into an internal knowledge base, or keep a log of feedback.

3.  Harness AI and Machine Learning

Have you heard of AI?  Unless you live under a rock, the answer is most likely yes.  Although this trend may be a little overhyped, some of the underlying technologies like deep learning and machine learning can make a huge difference in your business and your ability to deliver personalized, one to one support at scale. 

Want to offer "highly perceived" support?  Customer service pro's will tell you the trick is more human touch, but that is only partly true.  Delivering high touch at scale gets much easier when you mix in some AI to help triage issues, respond quickly to customer feedback and deliver an overall amazing experience.

Scott Miller

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