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How-To

How to accelerate team communication in 2021?

Team collaboration is now the basis of every business. It is not just a commercial idea – this form of cooperation genuinely brings better results. Collaborative workplaces inspire greater public confidence. Team activities also have an impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of their work. The key issue in this respect is communication, which should be fast and at the highest level. How to improve it in 2021?

Research has shown that teams which work together achieve 5 times better results than those which don’t cooperate. This is due to the fact that team members who work together feel motivated to achieve a common goal. Despite this, team leaders often underestimate the importance of teamwork and seldom make it a priority. This is a pity, because Salesforce research showed that as many as 86% of respondents assessed a lack of cooperation as the main element of failure in their workplace.

What is team collaboration?

Due to the way the modern world functions, the teams in a company are no longer only related by general factors such as a common location. Effective management is no longer just decisions being made by the boss. Currently, it consists of opening a space for discussion within and decisions to be made by the team too, supporting its development and creation of its own ideas. In addition, it has become fashionable to celebrate the corporate successes that a team has an influence on. 

Nowadays, cooperation means working with someone to achieve a specific goal, and the use of modern technologies for this purpose. It also means cooperation between teams living in different places on Earth. Running such teams is not an easy task, so communication is the key area here in which you cannot afford to make mistakes.

Mistakes in team communication

Team collaboration may not seem to be a difficult issue, but the reality is actually quite different. Mistakes that have a significant impact on the quality of communication and teamwork often occur. Some of them are:

Frequent misunderstandings

Teams are made up of different personalities. Each person has a different language of communication or priorities for their work, which is why misunderstandings can occur. These can be associated with the misreading of a message, an imprecise goal, lack of a defined process, or lack of knowledge about what another person on the team is doing. Communication should mean thinking about whether what we write can be understood by others, and also not being afraid to ask if something is unclear.

Drop in motivation

If at least one person in the team suffers a decrease in motivation, it may have a negative impact on the effectiveness of the entire team. This phenomenon can occur, and it is completely normal – a person is not always able to operate at full capacity. However, it is important that the issue is dealt with quickly by the team manager.

Use of outdated methods

Having to use old tools or methods can be frustrating for a team. Obsolete e-mail, instant messaging, or phone calls are not attractive to employees in a world where technology has advanced significantly and we have many tools with extensive functionalities and intuitive operations at our disposal. Therefore, it is not worth saving on tools that can definitely increase the efficiency of the team.

Information overload

Companies that want their employees to be well informed from the start may overdo the amount of information. Too much training or too many tools, meetings, and processes are counterproductive. An employee may suffer from information overload and a lack of willingness to communicate with their team.

Failure to establish teamwork as a priority

As a team manager, you should make it clear that teamwork is a priority. If you don’t do this, the team may not feel the need to communicate with each other or work together on specific projects. On the other hand, doing so will translate into both internal communication and increased effectiveness of the team’s activities.

Good communication practices

In order for the communication in your team to be effective, you can use a number of strategies and tools and avoid mistakes that are often repeated in teams. Here are some ideas to help you improve team communication in 2021.

Be clear about expectations and goals

From the very beginning, each employee should have clearly defined goals to be achieved and know the expectations of their employer. At the start of the cooperation, the employee should also learn that teamwork is treated as a priority. If you are recruiting new team members, you can highlight this in the job advertisement. 

You should discuss your goals and expectations with your team as often as possible. Depending on the team and the specifics of the work, this may be once a month, once a week, or, if necessary, even once a day. Thanks to this, team members will receive clear communication about what the situation looks like, learn whether something in particular needs extra support, have the chance to ask for help with a task, and even be allowed to define their own goals.

Define roles and responsibilities

Each team member should know their responsibilities and the roles they are expected to fulfill. Each employee should be approached individually and these issues should be defined. If you expect the team to be willing to take on more more responsibility, create a space for them where they feel confident and can count on support, both in terms of content and development.

Remind about the company’s mission

Even having the most interesting tasks to be performed and a good salary will cease to be attractive for employees if they do not know “why” they are doing the job. Writing the company’s mission is one of the main elements of integrating employees, and emphasizes the importance of cooperation. It doesn’t have to be a big idea, but it should be attractive. 

Employees who work with passion towards a specific mission work more efficiently and are more willing to cooperate with others who share the same mindset. Remember that the mission of your actions should be regularly reminded, be it as part of joint meetings, regular e-mails. or other corporate events. 

Praise employees and celebrate success

Employees want to be appreciated. Studies show that as many as 76% of millennial workers would quit their jobs if their work was not appreciated. Therefore, it is extremely important to use the strengths of your employees and give them recognition for the actions they complete. The forms of praise can range from verbal recognition at a team meeting, through a raise, up to promotion. Employees will then appreciate the meaning of their work and be more willing to act both individually and as part of a team. 

If you care about teamwork then plan special types of rewards for entire teams, thanks to which employees will receive the clear message that teamwork is really important and that cooperation is worthwhile.

Support openness and feedback

There is no team collaboration without open communication and feedback. Promote such attitudes from your employees. Unfortunately, in many companies it is still the case that if an employee shares their honest opinion about what doesn’t work in the company, they may face ostracism and worse treatment. That’s why it’s so important, especially for introverted employees, to create a space for communication. Employees will then feel safe from judgment and will be more likely to want to share their insights and ideas.

Determine the processes

Defining work processes is extremely important, not only in terms of performance of duties, but also communication. Clearly defined action paths allow you to quickly reach people who can help with a given problem, or are responsible for a specific scope of activities. This is especially important when working with remote teams, managed e.g. by the Kanban method.

Be an example

If you expect fast and precise communication from your team, you need to communicate well yourself. Start with communication during individual meetings, through team meetings, to using team communication tools. Your team members can see how you deal with requests, whether you keep your promises, and whether you respect the opinion of others. The more the team trusts you, the more it will see the sense of cooperation. 

Tools in teamwork

Currently, you have access to thousands of tools that can improve communication in your team. You have many messengers, plus tools for task and project management, customer service, and document collection all at your disposal. In addition, individual tools can integrate with each other and many also link individual services together.

In everyday activities, you can use tools such as Dropbox to store internal files, Asana for task management, and Microsoft Office suite or Google Workplace. Plumm is another great tool for supporting team communication.

Plumm is a collaborative inbox and team communication tool. Thanks to it, an entire team can quickly communicate with each other, as well as communicate with the users of individual SaaS projects. Everything happens on one platform, which definitely speeds up communication. You don’t need to waste time switching between instant messaging programs, changing inboxes, or using another live chat tool.

Conclusions

Effective teamwork is of great importance in the context of achieving the business goals of a team, but above all of the entire company. If communication in the team is efficient and open then it allows you to increase productivity, as well as save time and money. Employees who feel comfortable working in a team will openly communicate problems, a need for support, or offers of help to others.

If you want employee cooperation to work well in your company, you must first identify it as one of the team’s main priorities. Define the goals and mission that should guide the team and the company. It is important that the person managing the team shines by example – if you require open communication, use it yourself. In addition, try to build employees’ trust in you so that they will be more willing and quicker to share observations and ideas.

It is equally important to choose the right tools for the work of your team. Now you can try Plumm, which will ensure quick communication between employees and improve contact with the users of individual SaaS projects.

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How-To

5 reasons why should you choose Plumm as your team’s shared inbox

If we were to identify the first thing that definitely makes it difficult for teams involved with SaaS projects, it would be communication distraction and the use of multiple tools. Switching between one tool to another, replying to users on different channels, and communicating with the team via other methods can be frustrating and distracting for employees. Think about how beautiful it would be if all these features were available in one place. Fortunately, it is possible! Explore Plumm and find out why you should choose this option for your team.

Explore Plumm

Current technological possibilities definitely allow us to facilitate everyday activities. We can automate processes, synthesize them, and choose solutions that are convenient for us and ensure comfortable work. One of the most important tools that will help you work efficiently is the inbox, which allows you to connect communication channels with customers as well as the entire team in all SaaS projects.

Why is it important? Each developing company that wants to be counted on the market must have communication (both external and internal) at a sufficiently high level. Synchronization of all channels in one interface allows for efficient service of both users and potential customers. This ensures that no one is left behind in communication.

Such solutions are provided by Plumm, an application that is a shared inbox as well as a platform for team communication. This means that it helps to centralize all support channels under one platform. What are the benefits of using Plumm?

#1 Support for multiple SaaS projects in one interface

Switching between instant messaging and the tools used to manage various SaaS projects takes a lot of time. You could instead spend this time on improving and developing projects or other activities that require more commitment. Fortunately, at Plumm, you can gather all communication channels from individual SaaS projects in a very simple way. 

This gives you quick and easy access to communicate with other colleagues, as well as all customers on a single platform. There is no need to switch tabs or open multiple windows. You also don’t need to log in to different platforms and then remember to log out of each. Plumm lets you do it all on one platform with one view.

#2 Get the context

Getting to know your customers better will help you efficiently handle requests. Thanks to the functionality available in Plumm, you have the chance to get to know the context of the user and the company. To do so, you have the option of embedding JavaScript parameters. By knowing the user’s context, you will have the chance to create an individual solution. Moreover, access to contexts is available not only to the employee who directly contacts a given user, but also to other colleagues who need such information.

#3 Use an e-mail shared inbox

Email is a key communication channel for most businesses. Lack of news or failure to solve a problem in a timely manner only causes customer dissatisfaction, which builds a bad opinion about the company. That’s why it is so important to synchronize communication channels in one place. Efficient e-mail management avoids the stress and hassle of having multiple inboxes.

With Plumm, all of your inboxes for any project can be in one place, which helps you provide high-level assistance to users. This enables not only quick communication with your clients from various projects, but also with colleagues, regardless of whether that means 2 or 500 people.

You don’t need to use separate tools for each team. You can sync G Suite email accounts (even if you have a separate account for each project). Plumm also allows you to add a live chat widget to each project, thus streamlining customer service. It will reach the next level, because each potential customer can quickly communicate with the company.

#4 Provide live chat customer support

If you have multiple projects, campaigns, or websites that all require live chat support, you can simply transfer them all to Plumm. You don’t need any additional live chat software, since you can handle all kinds of messages in one place. You will also be able to see if any of your coworkers have read a message, and if any action has been taken because of it. 

To add live chat to your project, simply copy the code from Plumm and paste it into the structure of your SaaS website. The user context also appears in live chat. 

#5 Expand team collaboration

Plumm provides the perfect environment for teamwork. By gathering your team on the Plumm platform, colleagues can see the details as well as the moving parts of your company’s communication and individual projects, thus facilitating work. You can create teams according to your needs: divided into thematic teams, departments, or concerning one specific problem. It all depends on the way you work.

Working on one platform, the team can share comments, discuss bugs, share drafts, and assign tickets. Additionally, each user has access to users’ contexts. The whole team can get to know and understand any user who has a specific problem. A functional ticketing system and Kanban board allow for ongoing error control and evaluation of sales opportunities.

In addition to team discussions, Plumm also allows private conversations between individual employees.

Currently using alternatives?

Plumm compares favorably with other shared inbox platforms. It offers a number of features that are not built into most tools of this type. It differs from the competition in the following ways: 

  • synchronizing communication channels (both inbox and live chat) of many SaaS products in one place, 
  • placing a live chat widget on the websites of all SaaS projects,
  • conducting internal discussions, as well as providing answers to the most frequently asked questions in these discussions,
  • conducting internal communication through non-standard channels. 

An additional advantage is, of course, the cost of the application, which is only $10 per month per user.

Conclusion

The collection of all support channels under one platform is a great convenience both for people working in companies and for freelancers running various SaaS projects. By centralizing everything in one place, Plumm increases the chance that you will not lose a potential customer because you will notice all e-mails and requests for help. You will also save valuable time that you do not have to spend switching between tools. You can create your working environment at Plumm in an extremely simple and intuitive way, and cooperation with others is extremely easy. Try Plumm for your business today.

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How-To

What are the best practices for live chat?

Contemporary customer service is a very demanding area. Customers expect a quick and substantive answer, meaning help that will give them a solution to their problem here and now. They also want to use the communication channel that is most convenient for them. Companies that offer multi-channel assistance are therefore perceived as friendlier. Live chat is the communication channel that gives you the greatest chance to act quickly. Read here about what live chat is, what its benefits are, and how to make good use of it in customer service.

What is live chat?

Live chat is currently one of the most popular contact center communication methods options. It enables a client and an agent to talk in real time. It’s usually installed as a chat window on a website or mobile application. Research shows that 53% of consumers choose a method of contact that allows them to talk to an agent in writing rather than by phone, and 42% of these prefer live chat.

As part of a chat with an agent, the customer can obtain effective and quick help with a purchase, receive an answer to their inquiry, or get recommendations for products and services offered. All of this happens without any extra effort – all they need to do is type a question and read the answer. This solution is becoming more and more popular, especially now the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is taking live chat to an even higher level.

Live chat is also sometimes mistakenly confused with chatbots. In terms of UX they are very similar, but the two are distinguished by who handles the chat. In a live chat, it is a human agent who is on the other side of the connection. Chatbots, on the other hand, are supported by Artificial Intelligence algorithms.

Benefits of live chat

The benefits of installing a live chat in customer service are numerous. They are not limited to quick conversations with customers. 

Live chat affects the perception of a brand, building its position and relationships with customers. There are definitely more benefits, so if you are still wondering whether you need a live chat yourself then be sure to read on and learn about some other advantages.

Increasing sales

Live chat has a huge impact on lead generation as well as sales. Research shows that it can generate 3 to 5 times more conversions than without, and it can also achieve a ROI of 6,000%. Additionally, customers who use live chat are 3 times more likely to make a purchase than those who have not had such contact.

Why is this? A potential customer has immediate access to the service team, who can provide immediate assistance and influence the purchasing decision of a visiting consumer.

Improving customer loyalty

Customers, despite the fact that they make more and more purchases online, are still not as trusting of internet shopping as they are of the traditional form. Live chat guarantees a form of direct contact with staff, who in a stationary store can advise on the spot or answer a question about whether or not and where a specific product can be found.

Providing your brand with the possibility of hassle-free and immediate contact shows it as a company that is customer-oriented and willing to solve their problems.

Knowing customer problems

Customers are more likely to share a problem when they can write rather than talk about it. They feel more confident and have no fear of being judged. This form also supports clients who do not find it easy to adequately describe problems verbally and do not want to be perceived as a problematic person. Chat contact is less emotional. We do not have to overcome the stress threshold that can occur during telephone calls. 

The chat format is also better than phones for the service team. Why? Because they have the ability to archive conversations. Thanks to this, even if an employee does not forward information about a problem or complaint, it is noted and can be sent to the appropriate people responsible for a specific area of activity.

Boosting productivity

Live chat allows an agent to do several things at once that they can’t do on a phone call, for example. At the same time, the customer service representative may have several chat windows open in which they can solve several issues at once. This definitely increases the efficiency of the contact center. However, don’t go to the extreme – the agent should not handle too many requests at once, because they risk not being able to focus on the problems of individual clients and therefore not properly resolving issues.

Resolving problems more efficiently

As we have emphasized several times, live chat provides quick support and assistance. It is not only a way in which an agent can respond to the client at an express pace. If a business has a knowledge base and articles that can support customers, the agent can provide links and references to specific content that can help the consumer. This is convenient both for the consultant, who does not have to present the individual steps of each procedure, and also for the client, who will know where to find the answer to a particular question and can return to the knowledge base at any time. 

Another possible feature of chats is screen sharing. Thanks to this, an agent can show the user how to solve a problem step by step. This function cannot be performed by phone calls or messages sent via email.

Building a competitive advantage

Many companies still do not use a live chat option. What does this mean for your brand? The percentage of people buying online is increasing with each passing month. If you decide to implement this solution, it puts you above companies in your industry that do not offer it in their customer service. Remember that live chat does not only provide quick help for the client, but also the opportunity to build relationships and loyalty. During a conversation, you can send information about current promotions and competitions or send a customer satisfaction survey.

Expanding your market

Do you think because you have a website and social media channels set up that you have an online presence? Unfortunately it’s not that simple, and there is no guarantee that you’ll be noticed by potential customers. A company whose website structure only has a store, but does not have any special options such as contact with the service team or news, will have a problem acquiring customers. 

Live chat is a great way to make your online store come to life. It shows that there are people behind the store who want to ensure comfortable shopping, as well as provide quick assistance if necessary. Additionally, you can consider a section containing news, blog entries as a form of content marketing, or pop-ups that will allow users to subscribe to your newsletter.

Obtaining customer feedback

We have already mentioned sending forms to clients. Live chat is an ideal source of customer feedback. From conversations with a client, we can draw conclusions about their brand image. However, there are many more opportunities and methods to obtain opinions during a live chat. At the end of the conversation, you can ask the customer to fill out a form that will be sent via a link. You could also suggest that the customer leaves a review on Facebook or Google, or even complete an automated survey after the conversation is over. Most live chat systems have the option of creating a built-in survey that is shown at the end. 

Gaining feedback during a live chat conversation is valuable because the customer is engaged and will be thinking intensely about the brand at this point. They are therefore more likely to want to give an opinion on the company and the service right then.

Creating reports and analyzes

Telephone and email reports mostly contain numbers, so they don’t carry more value than purely statistical ones. Reports and analyzes that can be performed on the basis of live chat are much more extensive. The simplest ones usually include the agent’s performance and the number of chats held. More complex ones may take into account customer details, e.g. geolocation.

Reducing your expenses

If you’re looking to cut costs in your business, live chat is a great channel to help. Telephone support is expensive and does not meet the expectations of most customers. As already mentioned, consumers prefer to write about their problems rather than talk on the phone, but they still require an immediate response. Consumers shifting from phone communication to live chat allow the company to save both on phone calls and on technological aspects.

Live chat costs no more than an email provider. Forrester’s research has shown that live chat customer service is 17% to 30% cheaper than phone calls. Why is this? First of all, live chat allows both the client and the agent to multitask. Therefore, they can handle several live chats or reply simultaneously on other communication channels, such as social media. This is called chat concurrency.

Best practices for setting up a live chat

Saving time, ease of use, and meeting customer expectations. The use of live chat is reflected in a company’s profits. However, the mere implementation of this solution will not bring results. There are a few extremely important points to remember:

  1. Exceed customer expectations. Excellent customer service guarantees building relationships with customers, strengthening loyalty, supporting the brand image, and building trust in it. All of this translates into higher sales and real profits for the company.
  1. Use the appropriate language of communication. Remember that your company should be consistent on all customer service channels. The language of communication should be defined in your company’s business strategy. Remember that the vocabulary used should be fully understandable to clients and not too specialized. Pay attention to grammar and spelling mistakes.
  1. Specify the hours when the chat is open. How your chat will operate is dependent on how big your company is, what the philosophy is behind it, and what human resources you have available. If you can work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, that’s great. Let’s be honest, however, that most companies do not have this option. Therefore, there must be specific, visible information about the hours of chat activity next to the chat window.
  1. Use ready-made conversation templates. Ready message patterns allow for even faster communication. However, you should still remember about taking an individual approach to clients. That is, not to act on a “copy and paste” principle, but to give messages a human element.
  1. Choose the right tools to implement live chat. A great solution is to use our Plumm tool. It allows you to communicate from one place with all of your clients and colleagues. Plumm allows you to integrate all live chats in one panel. You can also create a database of the most frequently asked questions from customers, have access to all customer data, the ability to write internal notes, make an ongoing analysis of expenses, access your SaaS administration panel, create analyzes and reports, and much more.
  1. Use Artificial Intelligence (AI). Clients often have a problem with basic issues, so the help of Artificial Intelligence, which allows you to automate processes, is extremely valuable both for them and agents. The former receive a response even when the chat is not working, and the latter won’t waste time on simple, repetitive activities that can frustrate the team.

Over to you

If you want to build your brand position in the modern market, you can’t help but introduce a live chat service. Live chat is a solution that brings companies measurable profits and benefits, both financial and image-related. The benefits are mutual, as it is a tool that supports both the customer and the service team. The consumer receives quick support, which in their eyes creates a pro-consumer image of the company. The company saves time and support costs, thus increases profit.

There’s no way two ways about it – in order to count on the market and ensure customer rotation and loyalty, you need to introduce live chat. Using tools such as Plumm enable the effective implementation of this solution. It is intuitive and easy to use, so try it out today!

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How-To

What Are Some Great Customer Retention Strategies for SaaS Startups?

There has always been an emphasis on getting new customers through the door. This generally becomes more evident when you have to deal with customer service after 10 months and a large amount of money spent you get treated like trash, all in the name of new clients!

Whilst new leads and customers are vital to your business, providing a service solid enough to retain that client and even get them to share their experience’s with other’s is a whole different ball game.

You need to ensure that each client is listened to, treated well – they are spending their hard-earned cash, and ultimately you should be speaking to each client on a regular basis. Hearing their concerns and problems can help to formulate product updates and feature development too. 

The hard part of customer retention is how to do it. Especially when you are a startup that has limited resources and ideally would like to progress with the to-do list. Below you will find a number of strategies that will help you increase customer retention and ultimately improve your bottom line (hopefully it’s so good you start getting word of mouth referrals which will lower marketing costs).

Adopt Customer Service Tools

A lot of startups do not have the funds to splash out on multiple platforms at the start so you need to be picky about what you use. This is the same situation that your clients are in, so ask yourself the question – what makes me stick around and use a tool?

Tools improve tools and ultimately you can improve your SaaS tool by adopting the use of customer service tools. Kind of like the chicken and the egg scenario. In most cases your customer will love to see a live chat widget that is easy to access plus a support email just in case live chat is not the channel for them. 

To overcome the lack of time that you may have to dedicate to customer retention you could consider a shared inbox. Shared inboxes are fantastic for indie hackers and SaaS project owners who have multiple support channels (HR, sales, marketing etc) and managing each account becomes impossible. 

For example, Plumm pull’s in live chat messages and emails from multiple projects and the whole team can see the messages, reply and discuss with the team all within the platform. This makes it incredibly easy for people to jump in and save the day or just respond to a query – this is so basic but so many startups don’t do it, still.

If you are lucky, the tools will also provide you with user context which essentially pulls JSON data from your platform and instantly displays it when the user gets in touch. This would generally include basic technical information (OS, browser, location, IP) then any additional information that you have mapped such as admin links directly to the users profile.

Onboarding

A new SaaS platform is created due to a slow or old process within an industry or department. That means old tricks and tactics – basically spreadsheets – are now having to be unlearnt and new tools are picked up. For someone that has spent X years in the field this is going to be a huge turn-off.

live chat widget

There’s no time to learn something, people just want things to work, one small misstep can make a user completely switch off. This is the reality that most SaaS platforms face. As the saying goes it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. 

When you switch to a new platform there is always a level of intimidation due to new buttons, actions and workflows which can be off putting to someone that is busy with day-to-day functions. If the switch over is going to cost a lot in terms of time due to the switch over, you need to ensure onboarding provides the user with clear and concise communications to ensure a smooth process.

Let’s say your new SaaS platform provides a new way of working and replaces the spreadsheet. This spreadsheet is central to all business operations, it has been updated and improved over the years and it’s never failed. Onboarding needs to ensure that this tried and tested system will not perform better than your SaaS tool, otherwise why do they need it?

There are 2 options here – call-to-actions when they log in OR an onboarding call with someone at the company. This ultimately depends on the platform, tasks required and the ‘size’ of the customer which depends on the scale of switch over.

Call-to-actions are great as they are self-serve and can either be followed along or cancelled. The point is that it gives the user control of their onboarding, especially if they know what they are doing.

Onboarding calls are great for the big switch overs or clients that need hand holding as it provides an easy way to ask questions on the fly. So if anything looks out of the ordinary, the user can ask right away and get an answer too – no stress, no waiting for an email response, perfect.

Communication Calendar & Initiatives

Being proactive in communications with your users can really help with reducing churn. Firstly, it shows that you care. Secondly, if you start actioning on the relevant feedback and show users that you listened, they will appreciate being heard and being hopeful that your platform will develop into the perfect tool. Because you listened.

But, the hard part is actually going through with the communications and sticking with it on a regular basis. What happens often with SaaS startups is that due to a lack of resources, time has to be split and a user communication strategy – especially if you are new to this area of business – is going to be way down the to-do list.

The core elements of a communication calendar are:

  • Keeping track when the client last reached out to you – social media, customer service etc.
  • Developing communications based on product timelines and proactively communicating and educating the users.
  • Sticking to regular feedback outreach – NPS score and phone calls (for brand new startups I suggest focusing on phone calls, they provide a wealth of information that a paid ad campaign never will).

You could get more advanced and technical with this by setting up automated workflows that reach out to customers if:

  • They haven’t logged in for X time
  • They haven’t completed onboarding
  • They signed up but never logged in
  • They spend most of their time on a specific area of the platform

If you can build a workflow that is triggered based on the above you can really help yourself by understanding what potential problems may be. Knowing why a user is not getting the most out of your platform can point to some glaring issues that you would have otherwise missed.

Conclusion

It’s a riot getting new paying customers. The feeling is great, it’s acceptance of your hard work and ultimately it adds to the vanity metrics that the media loves. But startups are getting lost focusing on the new customer pipeline and then scratch their head because they are losing customers just as quickly. 

Retention is key, early stage retention is really important for the learnings that can be found. But external pressures and a desire to eat means more money is required. Adopting just one of the strategies above can be enough to really remove friction and help you retain the current users that you have, which has an overall lesser spend VS new customers.

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How-To

7 Customer Service Tips for SaaS Startups

Regardless of the size and scale of your SaaS project one thing that you need to think about right now is, customer service. This goes beyond nice words and creating a warm feeling, customer service provides you the ability to reduce churn and increase customer advocacy.

For any startup SaaS platform, creating advocacy is crucial for reducing marketing and growth costs – word of mouth is the king of all marketing channels – and ultimately you want to also reduce churn. 

Below is a list of some customer service tips for a SaaS startup to consider, all of which are known to be best practices within this area of business.

  1. Invest in the tools to make it easy for yourself

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail is a fantastic mantra for a startup. When it comes to areas of business such as customer service, this mantra really ring’s true to the simple fact that if you do not have the right tools in place, you will inevitably have a really hard time staying on top of messages and your day-to-day operations too.

For early stage startups all you really need is a live chat widget and support emails so that customers have multiple methods of contact. Live chat will inevitably be the main channel that customers will use as it’s a quicker method of troubleshooting problems.

Consider a shared inbox too, which essentially combines all of your support channels and live widgets into one single inbox that your entire team can see and answer to.

The idea with these tools is that customer service will be proactive in getting customers to their desired goal. You also need to be considerate of your time and aligning everything into one platform is always handy and welcome just for the efficiency.

  1. Get the entire team on service duty early on

Off the back of the shared inbox tip, getting your whole team (if applicable) onto customer service duties and tasks on a rotation is a great way for everyone to get a grip of things. 

shared inbox for live chats

If a customer shares their frustration at something and a developer is on service duty, they can probably think of a solution far quicker then putting a dev ticket in. In fact they may find a bug or glitch that they would have never noticed before. 

Another benefit here is that the team members from different departments will be able to gather some ideas, think on them and potentially use it for future projects or tasks to improve things. 

The goal is to ensure customer service is fantastic for your customers and that your team can also learn what the customer is feeling about the platform. Having a shared inbox, for example, provides easy team collaboration, messaging, and problem-solving which would otherwise be quite difficult when having to use multiple tools and platforms to ask simple bug questions or troubleshooting.

  1. Slow and steady service is key

With customer service, large companies reward their agents for problem-solving in the quickest possible time. For a SaaS startup, this is the worst kind of customer service that you could provide….and you will be tempted to do so because of other tasks or just a desire to solve problems and move on.

Early stage startups need to live in their customer service platforms/tools. Asking questions and digging deeper, jumping on a call to really speak with them (if they are willing – don’t hassle them if they appear to not like the idea) and understand where things could be improved and what they would like to see.

This slow and steady approach is not scalable, sure, but the plethora of information that you will get will be better than any marketing campaigns data trial early on will prove to be priceless for growth.

  1. Automation is key but avoid feeling robotic

There are certain steps that can be automated and they will work for the better. Live chat auto messages provide an estimated time for a reply is great, it sets expectations and the customer can carry on with their day whilst awaiting your response.

Imagine how many times you have sent a support email out to be provided with silence. Sometimes you get a thank you auto message but a lot of the time you do not. So you sit and wait and wait, drop them a follow up to get a snarky response. This is not great customer service. Ideally you will focus on automating the start of the conversation and setting those expectations.

Sometimes a live chat will try to troubleshoot with some article suggestions, however, there are times when this is way off the mark so you do feel like you just lost your opportunity to fix the problem. 

Ultimately there should be a balance of automation but really after you have spent some manual labour answering service questions so you understand the general feelings towards your platform.

  1. FAQs and support documents

After spending some time on the service side of business you will inevitably find some FAQs that keep coming up. This is perfect for automation and setting up your FAQ/support document centre. A central location for your customers to search and troubleshoot, whenever they please.

faq

These documents can be added to live chat widgets for quick and easy responses BUT they should only be provided after you have spent time understanding your customer.

FAQs and support documents should also be regularly updated to ensure new features and actions are up-to-date. Also, adding FAQs as and when the same questions come in will help avoid getting drowned in future content requirements.

  1. Low response time, high success rate

Even if your product is $5 per month, customers expect that they are catered to in a quick manner and that their problems are solved with perfect precision. Trying to get the inbox down to 0 is going to be a morale beater for you and your team. Focus on creating efficiencies in areas that you can control and build on.

shared inbox for live chats

As I mentioned the FAQ/support documents will be the key to achieving low response times and high success rates. But only after you have spent time understanding problems and noting them down in order to understand what is an FAQ, what is a genuine bug that needs fixing not patching or workarounds and ultimately you need to know how to effectively fix it before writing it down and sharing it with your customers.

  1. Clear and concise

Having deep knowledge of your SaaS platform is a great advantage for ensuring customer service requests are dealt with quickly. But this deep knowledge can result in you viewing solutions and problems in a more abstract way. 

Your customer is probably not tech-minded or they just expect your product to work so having to think of solutions is not something that they pay a monthly subscription for. 

The classic customer service sentence would go “Thanks for the message, you are being transferred to the relevant department” which is OK but having a response such as “Hey John Doe, this is our service guru who will be helping you today” will make you feel more welcomed and like you are dealing with a human.

Being clear and concise is simply providing dates, times or information that will help the customer ensure they understand what is going on. A call that is spent 1-hour on hold with no idea when someone is going to answer is not good customer service. This can be considered the same for live chats and emails.

Your SaaS startup may be a small founding team or a distributed bunch of freelancers, either way, customer service is incredibly important in the early stages. Too few companies put emphasis on their customers in the early days, essentially focusing on data and metrics from blogs and articles to make key product/feature decisions when they really should have been focusing on speaking with their existing customer base.

By implementing some basic tools – live chat, shared inbox and support emails – you can already provide a better service experience than a lot of corporates do, at a fraction of the cost. The lessons learned will be priceless and product development will be fruitful with it’s success.

Categories
How-To

How to Deliver Exceptional Customer Service as a Startup

Love it or hate it but corporate customer service provides a way for customers to contact the company regarding a specific issue. This is crucial for any startup out there. Allowing your customers to easily contact you regarding any problem can be make or break in the long run.

As a startup you have one really clear advantage over a corporate company – size, speed and personality. Where a large corporate provides customer service, it generally leans towards a faceless agent with lengthy wait times and sometimes no resolutions at all.

Being that you can personally contact each individual customer and answer their problems and even conduct product research you ultimately have a big advantage that needs to be used to your best ability.

In the long run a positive customer service experience ensures that customers stay with you for longer as they have issues solved and their thoughts are listened to. Something else worth considering is that many people expect to have some level of support especially if you are a SaaS platform or tech based. Technical help is crucial for removing any friction when customers are trying to achieve their goals.

General service/happiness statistics/customer expectations

  • They expect to be able to reach you via at least three channels – essentially live chat, email and, this is more for stores, face-to-face (especially for complex issues).
  • >80% of customers expect a company to respond within 24 hours.
  • 3 in 10 customers expect a reply to an email within an hour.
  • 72% of customers expect the customer service agent to know their contact information, product information, and service history when they contact a company for customer service.

Let us break down what exceptional customer service should look like to your customers:

  • Accessible across multiple channels

This is straightforward, some people prefer talking and some do not, the option should be nice and easy with multiple methods of contact for your customers.

  • Very responsive

Waiting for 3 days to hear back that there’s nothing that can be done is very soul destroying, so ensuring you are communicating everything clearly is vital to managing customers expectations.

  • Personalized

The last thing that the customer needs or wants is to go through and provide all of the little details of their information. This is incredibly useful not only for the customer but yourself too – time management in customer service is really important so that you don’t get sucked into spending more time than you should.

  • Efficient solutions

Problems get solved quickly and with a high success rate otherwise going back and forth will only decrease the customer experience. 

The above points on exceptional customer service and not too far out there. These are all things that you and I have complained about with companies before, so there’s no doubt we have first hand experience – avoid making the same mistake as these corporate companies that fail on customer service.

How to implement this high-quality customer service

So you know the importance of exceptional customer service for your SaaS, you know the details of what customers expect and want from customer service and now you need to implement this into your project. 

For a startup this can be the tricky part. As a sole founder it can almost feel impossible but do not fear, the next section is here where I will show you some tips and ideas on customer service implementation.

Live Chat

The quickest and easiest way to engage in a customer service conversation is through a simple but versatile live chat widget. This can be anywhere on your website that you feel is applicable, it can operate 24 hours of the day capturing emails and messages and setting customer expectations with automated messages. 

live chat widget

I personally hunt down the live chat widget whenever I need to speak with customer service, if I can’t find one I generally assume the email will get missed so already it’s setting a poor customer experience in my head.

Self Service

This can be a support centre with FAQs or a community section where your customers respond to eachother (this is for the larger startups). Providing a self-service method of troubleshooting really helps to make customers feel that they are at least making some progress even whilst waiting for your reply. 

faq

I love a good FAQ, so many times I’ve had a problem answered because of an easy to access support desk that allowed me to search for similar problems. If the problem wasn’t there, something might tick in my head and make me realise a solution. Either way if it doesn’t provide an answer it can at least stimulate some ideas for self fixing.

Focus on Onboarding

A lot of customer service questions, especially with SaaS platforms, generally are about the technical aspects of the platform. 

How to find X” or “how to do Y

Many of these questions can be answered through an effective FAQ but ultimately this needs to be limited. The best way to do this would be to implement an onboarding session – a demo call, a demo video on Youtube or just a really handy and easy to find documentation system so everything can be followed in an easy 1, 2, 3 method.

Onboarding should eliminate the basic customer service questions and problems but it does require some time to document, record and make public so plan ahead and store all recurring problems that keep coming up.

User Context

As mentioned above, customers expect you to know them and their subscription, so you need to ensure that this is easy to access when you are dealing with the customer service request.

The above details are provided within Plumm so when a live chat message comes in or an email, we are pulling in JSON data which can be setup to pull whatever information you need. User context speeds up the process of knowing the little technical details as well as just making the entire process efficient for both yourself and your customers.

Shared Inbox

Lost or forgotten messages because a channel was not properly monitored is a common issue when you are a small team or have multiple projects. Time and focus are pulled everywhere so it’s always going to be an issue which only affects the long term customer happiness and can increase churn.

shared inbox for live chats

As you can see in the screenshot above there are multiple projects which all have multiple support channels, this can be daunting as you would need to switch tabs or log in and out etcc and that’s not efficient. 

Shared inboxes like Plumm provide an easy way to pull all of the support channels into one location, partner up with your team to tackle issues and discuss things before double sending or sharing incorrect information. 

Overall the customer service experience increases with tools and improving your set up. This is crucial to the bottom line of your business, especially when you are a startup and need every customer to stick around and help you improve the product.

Conclusion

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail as the famous saying goes. Take the time to set up a solid customer service experience, no matter how many customers you have, to ensure churn is minimized, customers become advocates and product development comes from genuine feedback that is provided via customer service.

Categories
How-To

What is the Difference Between Customer Support & Customer Service?

When it comes to customer support and customer service, it can be a little hard to know what the difference is. Especially when you are a sole founder or small startup team that understands the need for it, but not entirely sure how to deliver it to your users.

The easiest way to start this article would be to jump into the definitions of each of these customer centric processes.

Definitions:

Customer Service

This encompasses the entire customer base that you have with a specific focus on the non-technical side of things. Billing, shipping, or anything else that is related to your business and not technical. Customer service focuses on the entire customer lifecycle with a wide range of issues to troubleshoot.

Customer Support

In simple terms this is considered ‘technical support’ which predominantly focuses on helping customers who are having issues with the tech side of things. Due to the advent of so many SaaS or software based platforms, customer support has quickly become the go-to term for anything related to customer troubleshooting.

As you can see support is more of an updated version of customer service due to the large number of software startups out there. But you should also be able to see the need for both options for your customers as well.

Customer Support & Service Contribute to the Balance Sheet

Ultimately, customer support and service can feel like marketing. You put people on the mission, spend money on the tools to complete the tasks effectively but sometimes it just doesn’t feel like accomplishing anything. 

The truth is that there are multiple ways that effectively managing your customers problems can help with the bottom line of your business. Let’s see how effective support and service will help your business’ balance sheet.

  • Onboarding: New tools require people to learn new things. I hate to break it to you but a 1 hour webinar on a feature is not going to work. People do not have the time and ultimately when you buy something, it needs to work. By onboarding effectively through customer support you inevitably remove friction from the process and show the customer how to get the most out of your product. Many customers have a predetermined expectation of what they want and how they would like it to work – listen and support your customers. 
  • Churn: If you work on your onboarding, as mentioned above, you reduce the numbe of people dropping off from trials or after the first month of use. In the State of Customer Service Experience 2017 report, more than 80% of consumers said that poor service would be a determining factor of driving them away from a company. This is quite clearly not great for your balance sheet.
  • Referrals: Word of mouth growth has to be the single best way to grow. Not only is it a subtle compliment for your product and company, it’s also a great way to drive down acquisition/marketing costs. This also greatly affects your bottom line but in a positive way. Less marketing spend can be used elsewhere. Ultimately, people tend to shout about really great experiences. I’m not talking about a phone call to customer service that wasn’t on hold for an hour plus but a truely great bit of help, such as refunding someone if they overran on a subscription and didn’t mean to. Not an instant win but it could come to fruition at a later date.

Slow Service is Bad Service

The Northridge Group, in their State of Customer Service Experience 2017 report that “customers want to be met on their channel of choice and have little tolerance for multiple contacts, long hold times, slow responses and ineffective issue resolution.”

We have all become accustomed to the idea of an always on world, support and service should also always be on. It does not matter if it’s on your company’s Facebook page or at 1am on the other side of the world, when a customer experiences a problem it’s only their problem and they need it solved.

Having the right tools and systems in place to help your customer is crucial. Even if you cannot cater to a customer’s needs at 2am, you can still implement live chat support that captures details and saves them so you can respond first thing in the morning. You can set up FAQs so that people can try to figure things out on their own. 

These little steps can provide enough of a buffer so that you can help the customer when you can, setting up bots, FAQs and automating live chats also ensures your team looks and feels bigger than what it is plus it just takes some of the strain off your hands of manual response and storing data etc.

Cater to Customers Needs

We have all become used to a certain level of support, especially for tech products such as SaaS platforms. Our ever connected needs and society has made us want answers to questions yesterday and in some cases this impatience can be a serious cause of churn. Nobody likes churn or spending more money on getting customers so it’s vital that you take steps to provide some level of customer support and service.

Software is eating the world as they say so make use of this tech and spend a tiny bit of your budget on setting up the right tools for your customers. Here are some examples to consider implement right away:

Live chat: It feels strange to see a website these days without live chat support. Our need for answers right now means the live chat widget at the bottom of your website can really help to set customer expectations and provide a small buffer with a strategic FAQ response. 

live chat widget

Shared inbox: You may have multiple SaaS projects or just a lot of emails (HR, PR, marketing, sales, IT, data etc) and ultimately you want to monitor all interactions between your customers and your projects. Generally speaking you would need to log in and out of accounts, switch tabs and swap screens. A lot of the requests and messages will be missed or forgotten about. Shared inboxes should be a go-to tool for all businesses, SaaS hackers and anyone that has multiple emails and live chats. By integrating all channels and projects into a single shared inbox, you and your team can stay on top of each channel. No missed customers asking for help or leads that reach out and fall between the cracks.

FAQs: Answering the same questions over and over is a tiresome process and one that most of us are not fans of especially when a growing to-do list is sitting next to you. FAQs provide the quick and easy option of providing self-serve answers as well as pointing customers in the right direction. Instead of providing silence and letting the customer wait, you can provide them with the chance to try and fix the problem on their own.

faq

In conclusion, customer support and service are both crucial to your business, no matter the size. Sole founders or indie hackers with a small distributed team, you need to ensure that customers are not frustrated by your product in a technical or general way.

Using tools to assist you is also vital so that the support and service you offer is not subpar because responding to someone 2 days later is not going to cut it. Instant responses and self-serve solutions alongside key tools like live chat and shared inboxes ensures you maximise your time and efforts spent on this area of business.

Categories
How-To

Plumm Shared Inbox & Team Communication Demo (Short)

Are you running multiple SaaS projects are struggling to manage multiple support channels? This is a common issue for growing SaaS projects where teams consist of indie hackers and serial entrepreneurs who understand they need to be efficient with support channel communuications but, ultimately, have other tasks to take care of.

Plumm was created to scratch a personal itch. With multiple SaaS projects there became a need to ensure each live-chat message was addressed, each support ticket email was being tracked and progress was being made. This required a shared inbox and centralized team communications, which is exactly what you will find with Plumm.

Below is a short demo video the platform in action, you can check out our other how-to articles to see different features in detail.

Categories
How-To

Change Your Email Signature & Offline Email Response

Early-stage SaaS projects require you to wear multiple-hats. These hats need to be displayed when you are talking to specific individuals outside of the project. For example you may need to be a Sales Manager for one email and you may need to be the PR manager to reply to an offline live-chat message.

With Plumm you can quickly and easily change your email signature on the fly so that you can be sure the person you are speaking to will feel that they are speaking to the right person.

What happens with a live-chat message that comes in but that person is now offline? Don’t worry, with Plumm you automatically send an email response if the person is not live, alternatively, you can also manually send the message as an email too, just incase the original response email was missed.

Below is a short how-to video to show you both of these features in action.

Categories
How-To

Assign Team to Chat, Create Tickets & Track Progress

Full team management for customer success ensuring your leads and users are dealt with in good time and with great effect. Having a shared inbox with Plumm makes it incredibly easy to not only assign team members to a support conversation but to also create tickets and track the progress with a Kanban board.

This makes it incredibly straightforward and easy to answer support questions even if you have multiple SaaS projects on the go. Infact, as your SaaS projects grow in terms of user base and team members, Plumm is the ideal partner to assist with this growth.

The last thing you need is to have leads who are not being replied to and support tickets not be addressed as you start to scale your business. A shared inbox and team chat functionality ensure nothing is lost in the mix.

Check out this quick how-to video below that shows you how you can assign team members, create tickets and track ticket progress.