How Much Should You Charge For SaaS App Support?

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The beauty of a SaaS solution is that it can often be a plug-and-play type of product. If you've designed an intuitive user experience (UX) and you're marketing to an audience that's already used similar software, it can be easy to navigate and start utilising the app right away. In such a scenario, very little assistance may be required from the vendor. 

No matter how straightforward the application is, however, part of your budget will always go towards service support. Your SaaS marketing and pricing strategies should make provision for this, as it's a crucial step in achieving sustainable growth for your business –– particularly for B2Bs. 

Without an excellent plan for onboarding, troubleshooting and handling other short or long-term queries, you're likely to see a high volume of churn. The big question, of course, is how much do you charge for support? Do you roll it into your subscription fee, have a set price for each support task or a per-hour consultation charge? 

You may have already guessed that there won't be a one-size-fits-all answer because your support strategy will be determined by the nature of the SaaS solution you sell. 

Several factors will affect how much you charge for SaaS app support:

When do your customers need your help?

How many users will require support?

Do you need additional infrastructure and resources to offer support?

Can some or all of the support tasks be automated?

How much value does your support provide to the customer?


When do your customers need help?

Depending on the complexity of your SaaS solution and how it's implemented, users may be more heavily dependent on your assistance during particular stages of their interaction with the software.

For example, the software may require an in-depth onboarding process that includes personalised training over a specified period of time until the learning objectives are met. You may choose to bundle the onboarding service along with the subscription. Alternatively, you may offer it as a complementary feature for each new signup. Some customers may have the resources to configure and onboard in-house; in this case, you can simply offer an optional service for a one-off fee that's paid by those who need it. 

Some SaaS products require the vendor to be on standby and work alongside the app's users.

For example, one of our long-standing SaaS clients provides open-source digital asset management software to the private and public sectors, NGOs, and academic institutions. The software itself is free, but the actual value for the customer is derived from the support they receive in the form of configurations, upgrades, bug fixes, user training, annual health checks and access to high spec servers. So, in essence, the subscription cost is for the support service rather than the software. 

Other solutions only need providers to help with the occasional troubleshooting request.

Here, it may be more cost-effective to create a knowledge base or resource centre on your website that customers can refer to and self-serve on those "how-to" queries. The initial investment will be put into building up the problem-solving content, but you'll also have to factor in the cost of reviewing, updating and adding onto your knowledge base as your SaaS naturally evolves and upgrades. 


How many users will require support?

For highly consultative solutions, you shouldn't take for granted the number of users per account. Processing the tickets and queries of a small B2B customer with only ten employees is entirely different to servicing the needs of a huge enterprise with multiple users across various locations. For these cases, you will require a very structured support framework with clearly defined SLAs. 

To avoid overstretching yourself, you should segment your SaaS pricing structure in a way that addresses each of your buyer personas. For example, a CRM can be used by businesses of all sizes, and the pricing structure for support should accommodate the varying user volumes and use-cases. But if your software is only likely to be used by independent individuals, a tiered pricing strategy may not apply to you. 


Do you need additional infrastructure and resources to offer support? 

If you need to run a 24/7 helpdesk, a complex ticketing system and intensive training workshops, your service support plan will have a higher cost to manage.

This needs to be reflected in the price you charge, and the value of this service should be strongly communicated to the customer so that they understand what they're paying for. 

More robust support strategies also require investments in technology to help you monitor how the software is being used. This is because app support goes beyond just waiting for a user to notify you of an issue or to flag up an area that could be improved.

By observing user trends and behaviours, you can quickly adapt your software to prevent problems from arising or boost engagement to tackle churn. Support in the form of proactive backend troubleshooting should also feature on your budget. 


Can someone or all of the support tasks be automated?

Technology affords us a tonne of efficiency, and you should never underestimate the cost-saving benefits of using AI or automation to help users self-serve. 

Create a resource-rich website that answers all the FAQs you're aware of, as well as anything you may anticipate as a potential knowledge gap for the customer. You can then install chatbots to guide searchers towards the correct video, article or step-step instructional that will help them resolve their issues. 

Often, customers actually prefer to solve their own problems rather than get on the phone with an agent, so you could save yourself a lot of money by simply getting smart about how you support your subscribers. 

As mentioned earlier, there is an expense to creating and updating videos, tutorials and blogs, but when you consider how many queries this content will simultaneously serve, it's likely to be far more cost-effective than answering individual queries, one at a time, over the telephone. 

How much value does your support provide the customer?

Naturally, your software will generate some kind of value for your client, whether that's reducing timescales through optimising processes or being instrumental in creating the end-product they sell onto their own customers. 

For some SaaS solutions, it's better for your business and the client to use a value-based pricing strategy. If your support yields a very high-income value for the user, you can align your service fee with the ROI you provide.

Alternatively, if it takes a while for your customer to generate additional revenue, you can price to accommodates their projected growth after your support services have been implemented. By taking this more agile approach, you prevent over or under-charging. You'll need to establish the boundary between helping your customer optimally utilise your software and actually doing their job for them, of course.  


SaaS Support Services and Marketing

Your SaaS support service is part of your greater inbound marketing strategy. It's an investment in retaining customers and keeping them engaged and delighted with your solution. 

Economics tell us that "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch", so although support may be included or advertised as "free" on your pricing page, there will be a cost to your company, and that cost will ultimately be passed down the user. So, some careful calculations will have to be made to work out how you can effectively service your clients' needs in a way that doesn't compromise your profit or limit your ability to invest in other growth and development initiatives for your SaaS. These decisions are closely related to the market you serve and the level of app support required. 

*Key Tip

Reduce the cost of app service support by transferring your technical knowledge into easily accessible content. This will help to streamline the problem-solving process for your users. Service agents can then be unburdened from the more mundane queries and instead focus on more complex inquiries where their help can really add value. 

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