Ada Support

Top tips SaaS can learn from ecommerce

Sarah Fox
Content Producer
Customer Service | 13 min read

When SaaS first hit the scene over 20 years ago, it blew the roof off of the traditional software model. Ever since then, the SaaS industry has continued to disrupt the market, rendering on-premise software virtually extinct.

However, that cutting edge innovation rarely extends to the SaaS customer experience, which tends to be fairly straight-laced and business-like. (Not Ada, of course. We’ve always done things a little differently.)

When we think about brands that are pushing the customer experience envelope, ecommerce leads the way. Think Amazon. Sephora. Ipsy . Even Walmart is shaking things up by letting shoppers choose a model who looks like them to try clothes on virtually. 

Ecommerce brands have to think outside the box because the competition is fierce. And in a crowded market, a unique customer experience can help you stand out. 

With more and more SaaS companies and platforms flooding the market, this sector is heating up. With more choice for buyers, the customer experience is becoming a defining factor. It could likely be the reason a potential customer chooses your company over the competition.

The global SaaS market is projected to grow 214% over this decade, reaching $819B by 2030.

- Grand View Research

To get a leg up, SaaS brands should look to ecommerce. Learn how to create a more dynamic, compelling, and innovative customer experience, and we guarantee you will win and retain more customers. Let’s get you there.

First things first: What is the SaaS customer experience?

Just like with ecommerce, every single interaction customers have with your company shapes the SaaS customer experience. It starts when they first hear about you or discover your website, and it continues all the way through trial, purchasing, onboarding, support, and renewal. Every encounter can change how customers think and feel about your product, your company, and your brand — for better or for worse.

86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience, and 81% of organizations cite customer experience as a competitive differentiator.

- SuperOffice

This should be obvious by now, but we’ll say it anyway: How customers perceive your brand impacts conversions, satisfaction, loyalty, lifetime value, and growth — so you really need to get it right, whether your target market is consumers or businesses of any size.

Let’s explore how SaaS brands can take a page out of the ecommerce approach to customer experience.

Get personal from the get go — and apply this across the entire customer experience

Ecommerce leaders know it’s critical to ensure new customers can use their online store right away — from creating an account to checking out. If shoppers have to jump through hoops to buy from a new store, they’re likely to abandon the purchase. The best brands make it quick and easy to sign up and check out.

On top of that, customers today expect brands to know them. Top online retailers have mastered this, and it takes the form of hyper-personalized recommendations. For example, shoppers looking for beauty or personal care products might take a short quiz to find out which product best suits their taste and needs. A clothing line might recommend specific pieces or styles based on past purchases or website behavior.

71% of B2C and 86% of B2B customers expect companies to be well informed about their personal information during an interaction.

- Gartner

SaaS brands can do the same, starting with the very first interaction. New visitors to your website likely don’t know much about your product yet or even where to find what they’re looking for. Deploying an AI agent to reach out to new visitors and ask questions about who they are and what they’re looking for can help to personalize the experience and point them in the right direction. With a generative AI-powered engine, the AI agent will even be able to reason out what questions to ask rather than following a pre-set flow.

A great onboarding experience can make all the difference. In SaaS — you only get one chance to make a first impression. Compared to generic or scripted onboarding, personalizing will leave new customers with a much better view of your brand.

You can personalize the onboarding experience by welcoming new customers and tailoring customer service to their needs, including training for specific products or services. Here’s where an AI agent can lead the charge. With generative AI in your automation strategy, the AI agent can easily become an expert in everything to do with your product and pass that knowledge along. Plus, it can ask questions (and follow-up questions) to guide the conversation and customize on an individual basis.

From there, you can use customer and web analytics data to pinpoint when and where people are most likely to start a chat. Offer recommendations or support at these touchpoints, personalizing conversations as much as you can with whatever data is available to you. 

For high value purchases, such as B2B software, collecting customer information up front lets you route prospects to the best sales agent if they need live help. If your company offers industry-specific benefits or features, consider using a data enrichment tool to identify prospects and create instant value by showing them the most relevant products.

The average consumer tells at least six people about a positive customer experience.

- Zippia

It’s actually pretty simple — turning browsers into buyers is all about making it as easy as possible for them to find and purchase the best solution.

Identify your most common inquiries, and automate them ASAP

For online retailers, the bulk of customer inquiries are basic — actions like checking the status of an order (“where is my order” or WISMO) or processing returns. Identifying your top intent and automating it saves ecommerce brands time and resources. It takes pressure off of agents, freeing them up to focus on the queries that really require a human touch. And customers feel empowered when they can help themselves. It’s good for everyone.

SaaS brands can tap into these benefits, too. Start by identifying your top customer intent — the one with the largest interaction volume. It’s likely that this inquiry is not only easy to automate but also drives value. Some examples:

  • Can I get a free trial?
  • Do you integrate with X tool/platform?
  • How do I upgrade from freemium to a paid plan?

Automating your WISMO equivalent will boost Automated Resolution (AR), deflect more tickets, maximize agent efficiency, and improve the overall SaaS customer experience. It’s an easy win.

Don’t wait for customers to come to you. Instead, offer proactive support

Top online retailers know the power of being proactive. That’s why they offer things like style guides, size charts, and product consultations without being asked. They even reach out when a customer gets stuck during checkout or leaves an item in their cart.

SaaS brands can (and should), too. Proactively offer support when customers are likely to need it. First, you need to identify known pain points or places where issues often arise on your website, in your app, or on your solution dashboard. Then trigger the AI agent to reach out and offer help. Making customers feel valued and seen builds brand loyalty.

An AI Agent can even reason through a problem and identify the best step to take. Rather than trying to anticipate and build a script for every resolution path, it references company knowledge, policies, and data from business systems to solve a unique situation. That means you can offer better support at more touchpoints.

Black Friday/Cyber Monday isn't just for retailers any more — SaaS brands are getting in on the action too, with offers like Mailchimp's 50% off monthly membership during the peak shopping event.

For subscription-based products and services, proactive renewal reminders are a critical revenue driver. Other SaaS use cases include recommending tailored or limited time deals, offering relevant cross-sell promotions, converting freemium users to a paid subscription, and promoting subscription or tier/plan upsells. Make the first move instead of waiting for them to ask.

What are you waiting for? Bring the SaaS customer experience to social media

Your website is an obvious place to engage customers, but top ecommerce brands know the customer experience shouldn’t end there. You need to be everywhere your customers want to reach you, so SaaS brands can follow ecommerce’s lead by figuring out which channels customers are using and being there for them.

For example, you might not think about promoting software on social channels like TikTok or Instagram, where users tend to seek entertainment. But the idea is for your brand or product to be top of mind whenever a customer is ready to buy. In our always-on world, having a presence across popular social platforms could tip the odds in your favor.

To capture engagement and drive conversion, you need to target potential buyers with the right content, on the right channel, at the right time.

Remember to include mobile in your customer experience strategy — this is where the majority of customers do their browsing these days. A lackluster mobile experience can damage your brand reputation but if it’s good, word-of-mouth marketing can power growth.

59% of all internet traffic worldwide now comes from mobile.

- Statista

With an omnichannel AI agent, SaaS brands can offer great customer service on mobile messaging channels too. Be sure to keep the conversation going after a customer has signed on by offering customer support everywhere your customers are spending time — on social, mobile, messaging, and more.

Establish a strong persona and apply it to your AI agent

Even in the buttoned-up SaaS world, human connection is at the core of the brand-customer relationship. Ecommerce companies tend to adopt bolder brand voices to break through the noise. Top brands like Target and Nike, for example, are recognizable wherever you come across them.

With the SaaS market continuing to grow, SaaS brands should also establish a persona with a clear voice that reflects your brand’s values and essence. Then, apply that persona to your AI agent to create a memorable customer experience at scale.

Making automated conversations feel relatable and human will bolster your brand image, deepening the human connection and strengthening loyalty with every interaction.

Start listening (really listening) and acting on customer feedback

Shoppers today can do a ton of research before they buy a product or service, and online reviews carry a lot of weight. In fact, one study found that 92% of consumers say online reviews have an impact on their purchase decision. That’s why leading ecommerce brands understand the value of customer feedback for both products and customer service. 

For SaaS brands, collecting customer feedback is a smart way to get a pulse on how customers feel about your products as well as the customer experience. And we’re not just talking surveys or NPS scores. An AI agent can automatically collect information and feedback from multiple sources to get a better read on the customer experience.

For example, an AI agent can comb through customer transcripts to identify the biggest opportunities for improvement — not just for your customer service team, but for your whole company. By pinpointing topics with the most unresolved conversations, an AI Agent can help you move the dial on key metrics like AR and CSAT. Quantifying the impact means you can easily build a business case for investing to solve the most pressing problems your customers face.

97% of survey respondents said a bad customer service experience can change their buying behavior.

- Zendesk

Deepen your understanding of the customer experience and pain points by measuring your AI Agent’s success across channels, tracking the impact on key metrics, and bringing your data into business intelligence tools. With an AI agent on the front lines of your customer service strategy, SaaS brands can make every customer feel like a VIP.

The generative AI toolkit for customer service leaders

Evolve your team, strategy and tech-stack for the AI-first future.

Download the toolkit