Behind any company’s success, there is always an unusual magical story. Some companies struggle to build the reputation of market leaders for decades; others are desperately seeking investors, who would hopefully take the project off the ground.
And only a little number of business owners decide to focus on simple but neglected things. It helps to succeed and outrun the rivals. At the end of the day, all success stories start with small things that the vast majority of competitors doesn’t comprehend.
It’s not an anecgloat. In this article, you won’t find the recipe for building up a successful SaaS business. This article tells the story of how paying a bit more attention to customer goals became a sling that helped David defeat the Goliath.
This is a story of DataForSEO
Short prequel. Building a successful business from scratch is a big challenge. But, lucky for us, we already had a start-up that formed a basis for the future idea. We’ve managed to build an SEO platform with just a few hundreds of users across the web that was about to enter the next stage of development back then. And, as is always the case, our team set up to review all the suggestions and work out the new roadmap.
Among many wishes of what to add to the toolkit and how to improve it, there were requests from customers that needed raw data for the platforms that were similar to our SEO business. They were asking for the API access to rankings and keyword data. It didn’t take long to come up with a new business concept. On that day, DataForSEO was officially launched.
When you start a new project, it’s always hard to take off. Being a newbie on the SEO data API market, the enthusiastic team of DataForSEO faced plenty of issues, from which the most crucial was the following:
How to win the tough competition race if there are a lot of businesses that have already built a strong reputation and authority?
Spamming potential customers with crabby emails with the perpetual fear of being lost in the inboxes seemed like a long shot. It’s never the way to win the client’s loyalty and their pockets. We’ve considered many different strategies: from the aggressive flashy advertising to viral guest blogging. All this could have worked out well for other niches, but not for SEO software. And that’s when you start thinking outside the box.
So, after sizing all pros and cons, DataForSEO was transformed from the product-focused start-up into something, that back then was just gaining momentum in the dark corners of SaaS businesses: customer-oriented, success-driven company. In just a few months it has not only changed the core system of company’s values but became our key-weapon for beating up the rivals and – oh, finally – jump the gun.
DataForSEO was among the first companies in the niche to successfully implement the 24/7 customer success management.
Now we believe that this is actually the first thing every business should keep in mind from the very beginning. The crucial point of success on the competitive battleground was, is and no doubts will always be, the success of clients. It doesn’t really matter whether they are already paying, might pay in the future or not going to become your customers in anytime soon, whether they are easy or complicated to deal with. They all should be treated like your good old friends. We’ve decided to provide the top-notch service to people who needed it. Later, this approach became the central part of our success formula. Nevertheless, as the number of clients continued to grow, we started facing difficulties with maintaining high-quality customer support service internally. Fortunately, we’ve found a backup – SupportHunt, the customer-support project aimed at helping Davids to fight big and scary Goliaths in the face of fat, wealthy and powerful competitors.
But let’s get back to DataForSEO and it’s taught path to the peak.
In the end, the idea of providing online support helped DataForSEO to increase real customer database from 5-10 to 300+ paid users within a month.
Furthermore, a lot of customers started to advocate the brand of DataForSEO and spread the good word about our services among their colleagues and business partners. Subsequently, the number of trial users increased fourfold.
Here you, dear reader, may ask:
“Was the “trivial” 24/7 support service the only reason for that? How exactly did it help?”
Although the quality of the product has always been our number one concern, customer-focused culture and 24/7 customer success management, in particular, have played a key role in the success story of DataForSEO. Here are a few factors that came into play:
- Users convenience. As you already know, DataForSEO operates in the field of API services. Since the industry requires a high level of technical expertise, our documentation and manuals are packed full with little but important technicalities, which are always hard to find in the massive arrays of data. By implementing Live Chat, we’ve ensured that our clients don’t waste their time looking for the necessary piece of info, instead of enjoying the full capacity of our API.
- No phones. Nobody likes to be put on hold. This is the reason why customers hate phone support. On the other hand, though, our live support agents answer as quickly as a snake darts out of its whole.:) Issues that don’t require substantial changes in the code are solved in a matter of minutes.
- No equipment, no employees, no extra charges. Transforming the company’s culture from profit-oriented to customer-focused took us a lot of effort. But, frankly, it didn’t cost DataForSEO a single penny. There was no need to buy special equipment, hire new employees and so pay them a decent salary. That is one of the most critical points for any startup; no extra charges mean less money spent from the budget.
- Increased conversions. When a potential customer has doubts about whether a company can offer one or another kind of services, live chat can take them right away. Since our support works 24/7, customers can ask whatever they want to make a purchase anytime they want to. On the contrary, if they had to wait for several hours to get a reply via email, they’d apparently flee into the hands of our competitors. Prospective customers of DataForSEO don’t have to wait to get a professional answer. And this is why it doesn’t take us long to turn the potential customer into the paid client.
- No bots. The replacement of humans with the pieces of a script is a trend that, fortunately for clients, is fading away. Yet, there is still a number of businesses that would choose robots over the real people. In DataForSEO we believe that our team members are our most valuable asset. Support agents working for our company have years of experience and can not only effectively troubleshoot and solve any issues, but they are also empathetic and human. The biggest benefit of live support provided by real people is their ability to think, analyze and, what’s even more important, the capacity to empathize individuals who contact online support. And it played into the DataForSEO hand. Customer care agents can quickly understand the crux of the problem and put it into the framework of consumer emotions. As a result, reps of DataForSEO address the issues at their very roots and, in many cases, turn angry clients into loyal evangelists. If we were to implement bots-based support, the scenario of replies would be very detailed. In addition to that, it is often impossible to predict what people might ask, not to mention the way how they’d do that. As a result, clients find bots very irritating. When people contact online support, they want to talk to someone who can fix it, not another round of misunderstanding.
- Hunting down all these bugs. Every startup has a couple of bugs hidden under the mattress. Efficient support helps to find them. Great support guarantees that similar issues won’t occur in the future. Either way, when users report something, it helps to eliminate errors with higher velocity. And if you manage to do it once and for all, it’ll indicate that your company actually cares about the user experience and puts great emphasis into the end-customer of the services you provide. When DataForSEO rolled up one of the newest APIs, every little bug was eliminated in just a few hours with the help of our users. After every major upgrade, we are getting more and more loyal clients.
There was no need to check if the customers were satisfied because they had voted with the purchases.
Short sequel. DataForSEO is continuing its fight for the hearts of customers. And customer success management is our prime weapon. Even at times when we’ve been between a rock and a hard place, our team will always put the interests of our clients first.
We believe that the trade-off of a couple of new clients will lead not just to the slight drop in sales. When clients decide to churn (despite our best efforts, that happens sometimes) you not only lose profits, you also lose another opportunity to improve.
Quite frankly, customer support is not generating revenue. If you expect that through the implementation of such services you’ll make your clients buy something they aren’t interested in, you are wrong. If you reckon that shortly after the implementation of customer support it will replace your salespeople, you couldn’t be more wrong. This is just not the case.
Speaking from experience, goal-oriented support service helps to gain something, which we find even more important: our client’s trust and loyalty.
There is plenty of benefits that any SaaS (and not only) business can get when switching to 24/7 online support. Gain the trust of your audience, and you’ll increase the revenue and go ahead of the curve. Win their loyalty, and your clients will spread the good word about your services all across the web. No advertising campaign could possibly match that.
The story of our success doesn’t end here. Our services are becoming better day by day. Every new upgrade gets us closer to the very peak of the API industry. We’re aiming for efficiency improvements across the piece. But it wouldn’t be possible if we haven’t decided to dedicate ourselves to the success of our customers and implement 24/7 customer success management. Thanks to the fantastic people working at SupportHunt, our goals are going hand-in-hand with the objectives of clients.
What do you think about the importance of customer support in the framework of SaaS businesses? Feel free to leave your comments below this post.