SaaS: How is Customer Service?

After having undergone experience, I searched on internet and found the article Customer Service in SaaS and why it Matters reflecting our experience with  customer service in Indian SaaS start-up  and decided to write down.

Two of my friends, co-founders of non-IT start-ups worked in IT industry earlier and  leverage IT effectively in their start-ups today. There was a need for a call center solution in Tamil Nadu start-up and remote education solution in Bangalore start-up.  I heard about the problems they face and the problem was genuine. Both were aware of U.S based SaaS offerings, used earlier at work. His local staff includes a lot on non-IT savvy persons and also his retired father. There was doubt whether local staff can work with customer service of U.S based SaaS offerings without premium support( still with mismatch in time zones and accent and so on).

I wanted them to explore with Indian start-up and both were interested to leverage “Made in India” products, if it satisfied their needs and offers a decent customer service. Doing quick research, I shared a list of start-up websites for them to take directly with.

Experience of entrepreneur looking for solution in education space.  

The solution needs to work at multiple educational institutions in India. The solution needs to offer higher quality of user experience at lower bandwidth.  We are aware of Citrix and WebIQ  solutions and good case studies in education space to target U.S students. As we are targeting India use base, I decided to reach Indian start-ups, one in Bangalore and other in Hyderabad.

There was no email response from Bangalore start-up for our email. Hyderabad start-up send response within 2 hours and asked for a good time for Skype call.   Not comfortable with Skype calls in India, I called them over phone. The start-up service agents  asked to come for a Skype call or chat call.  Why are they not offering us phone support, when they have published phone number to reach?  We did not have any follow-up emails and calls later. Calling Hyderabad start-up lead to junior staff and was a limited experience.

Experience looking for solution in call-center space.  

We send emails. One Bangalore start-up failed to respond to emails for more than a week. On sending follow-up email, there was an email response offering a self- trial version with free hours to explore product.  His father, retired person called them and shares his observation as ” I was talking to some one who seem to be reading from script. The call agent handling looked as  junior sales  person, lacking breadth and depth of knowledge on the product / service. There was more interest to complete call and get feedback. i think it should  lead  me to a purchase decision.”

Another Bangalore start-up reached them, dispatched their state agent to our office to explain the solution. We were happy with human experience. For first time, we saw cloud solution in action, and got some confidence that it would replace older way of doing things and more confident to migrate to  a cloud based  solution.

The first experience made my friend lose his strong faith on start-up solutions. Took as challenge to look for open source solution and tried to see some initial success He is asking me whether he can hire intern and whether i can help to develop a solution.

I like Bangalore start-up that supported them to come closer to a decision to purchase. The impact of bad experience seems to negate good experience and my friend has failed to arrive at decision, purchase or self-develop. Some questions to myself are

  • Customer fails to perceive tangible value in phone support for technical solutions and not comfortable with chat support (company offers poor phone support). Which is important,chat support or better phone support? .
  • Based on age, his father is suited to interact better on phone and is not used to communication on chat. Is chat and Skype the efficient ways of delivering support to all customers (slow-typing customers, scheduling, staffing, etc.)?