So you just got back from a conference and stopped by the trade show booths during that dead time between sessions. You probably came away with some nice swag—beer koozies, bumper stickers, and water bottles galore—alongside some big ideas about how this new software solution will revolutionize your business operations as you know it.
But wait! First you need to make the business case to your executive team. And when you’re looking at a price tag in the tens of thousands per year for a new tech platform for your company it can be a little tougher to convince them than it was to convince the office manager to buy an office Blendtec (which proves its value to your taste buds in healthy green smoothies daily).
Not all SaaS products are created equal, and in order to make sure the investment is worthwhile, you need to look beyond the cool customer logos and free coffee from the sponsor booths, and drill down into what benefits the solution actually will deliver for your company.
So before signing off on new technology, follow our guidelines for understanding its true ROI. Here’s a primer on how to evaluate whether a new solution is a solid investment for your business or whether you should just stick to the swag booth. While similar analyses can be run for any type of technology, we’ll focus here on our sweet spot: customer support solutions.
Will it reduce labor costs?
Your company’s growing crazy-fast—so that means that as you add customers, you’ll need to add new agents to support them just as quickly, right? Not so fast: Here’s another area where a best-in-class solution can save you money. Consider questions such as:
- Are you seeing a reduction in support ticket volume?
Some customer support solutions may even reduce the volume of tickets because customers are easily able to solve their own problems. Take a look at support ticket volume as a percentage of total customer base, and pay attention to whether it goes down after implementing a new solution. (In the Hungryroot example above, the brand reduced ticket volume by 20%.)
- Are you able to achieve more with fewer agents?
This is a metric of productivity, but also impacts your bottom line. If you can achieve the same output as you have in the past with fewer agents, you’ll be saving on your overall labor costs.
Will it improve the customer experience?
It’s never worth investing in automation if the end result alienates all your customers. That’s why it’s important to focus on technology that will improve the customer experience, rather than make customers feel like they’re not being valued. Any customer service technology platform you choose should make your customers feel happy and ensure that they have access to an agent when they need one. Here are a few metrics to look at to understand whether your customer experience is improving:
- How long does it take to resolve customer issues?
Let’s say last year, you got 3000 support emails a day, each of which had at least a 24 hour turnaround time. That’s 24+ hours for 3000 customers to be fuming about something that they might be able to resolve in 30 seconds, if they just had access to the right information. With a self-service support solution, you might find that now 20% of those customers resolve their own problems within a minute or less, and your support email volume has dropped to 2400 a day. And because your chat support agents are seeing lower volume due to customers making the most of self-service, they’re able to address the questions in two minutes, instead of five. If you offer phone support, lower call volume means your agents will be able to answer calls more quickly, instead of placing customers on hold for minutes at a time. Overall, a good customer support solution should help your customers get back precious minutes waiting on hold, or hours of waiting for a response.
- What is happening to your customer satisfaction levels by looking at your CSAT or NPS?
If you want to know whether your customers are more satisfied, just ask them. Use a Net Promoter Score to find out whether they’re likely to recommend you to a friend, and dig in deeper with a customer feedback survey to learn what you’re doing wrong or right. If your solution is saving customers time, you’ll likely be getting positive feedback—meaning that they’re more likely to stick with your brand long-term and to refer you to their friends.
Will it increase your agent productivity?
Any technology solution should be focused first and foremost on increasing your organization’s efficiency. Once the solution has been implemented within your organization and your team has been using it for at least six months, you should be able to evaluate metrics such as:
- Can your agents resolve issues more quickly than they previously could?
Is the tech tool streamlining the workflow for your agents, either by facilitating their communications with customers, or even by resolving issues before they even contact support? A good customer support tool should help your ticket resolution time decrease substantially: For example, our customer Hungryroot reduced first-response time by 30% after implementing Solvvy, which provides a self-service platform that enables customers to find answers to their issues directly from a company’s help center.
- Are your agents delivering higher-value work?
Consider the value being delivered within your agents’ time. In the past, a customer service agent might have spent half her shift answering basic questions about delivery time. Now, your customer agents can elevate their roles, focusing on those trickier problems that require a personal touch and have a far greater impact on the overall customer experience. Stash, a tool for first-time investors, saw a 50% decrease in email support requests, as those customers were able to move to a self-service model to solve their simple questions, freeing up agents to focus on more complex issues.
When you’re looking at any new tech solution, you’ll want to ask these kinds of questions in advance and follow your progress to understand your true ROI once you’ve invested. We’ve developed a simple ROI calculator that can help you understand the value of a solution like Solvvy—check it out here.