Software-as-a-service businesses face many challenges, such as maximizing revenue, streamlining labor efficiency, and boosting customer acquisition and retention. If you’re new to running a SaaS business, you might not know how to maximize its growth effectively.
As it turns out, a self-service business model could help you maximize your SaaS business’s growth more than you may think. Let’s break down how self-service models work with SaaS businesses in detail.
What is the Self-Service Model?
A self-service business model, whether for software-as-a-service organizations or others, is a business model where the customer doesn’t directly interact with you, your team, or other first-line employees (i.e., salespeople, etc.).
Self-service business models leverage many automated tools and seek to create streamlined customer journeys. In this way, customers:
- Find the correct products or tools for their needs
- Answer their questions or provide themselves with technical support via FAQ pages, guides, and knowledge bases
- Navigate through a software platform or program at their own pace and determination
Naturally, the self-service business model runs contrary to many SaaS business models initially conceived. SaaS companies, by definition, expect to provide ongoing service and support for their users (especially since they derive much of their revenue from subscriptions or repeat purchasers).
However, self-service models can merge perfectly with SaaS organizations. In many ways, self-service models can even maximize SaaS business growth if leveraged correctly.
Benefits of Self-Service Business Models
Self-service business models may provide your organization with many major advantages. Here’s a breakdown of some of the improvements you could see across the board when you implement self-service properly.
Focus on Product Improvement
Firstly, your staff can focus more on product improvement and refinement, the key concerns for any software as a service business. Most new SaaS businesses don’t often have as much revenue or saved up cash to focus primarily on marketing and sales. In other words, they have to spread their resources wide.
But self-service models free up a lot of time and money since you don’t have to dedicate people to software operation, tutorials, or certain customer service tasks. Instead, your team can focus primarily on building or refining the right features for your target customers.
Plus, many self-service SaaS models collect regular and detailed feedback from their users. This will, in turn, allow your team to build even better features or software elements as your business progresses.
Flexible for Customers
Another benefit of the self-service model is that your software platform or products will be more flexible for their users. These days, people want fast response times more than ever, and self-service models minimize waiting time for your target audience.
As a self-service SaaS product, your platform will offer quick service and responsiveness since it’s all handled by your customers themselves. They don’t have to contact a sales or customer service representative or experience a long waiting period to begin using your platform or product.
Not only does this make your software feel better to your users, but it can also save you time and money.
Automation of the Sales Process
Speaking of saving time and money, self-service business models enable you to automate much of the sales process. With a self-service model, you don’t have to engage one-on-one with each of your customers.
Instead, you can enhance your onboarding process, revamp your landing page, and make it quick and easy for customers to purchase and start using software by themselves. You can also implement an automated payment system so that leads can transition straight into customers without having to schedule and sit through a single call, email, or in-person meeting.
Improved Cross and Up-Selling
Similarly, the self-service business model can benefit SaaS companies by allowing faster and more regular cross-selling and up-selling. If, for example, your software offerings come with several tiers or subscription models, you can let your customers choose what is best suited for them and when they want to upgrade. You can break down all the features and benefits of each plan or level in detail. It may even make your cross-selling and up-selling efforts more successful than they would be otherwise.
More Efficient Use of Workers
As touched on above, the self-service business model is ideal for SaaS businesses, particularly new enterprises, because it makes your workforce more efficient. If you have limited staff and time, you can dedicate more of that time to places where your attention is truly needed, such as:
- Product development, refinement, and maintenance
- Some sales areas, such as developing new marketing campaigns
- Dedicated customer service for in-depth or technical questions
If your SaaS business is new, the self-service model may be an especially good choice to pivot to. That way, you can still service your target audience and maximize your profitability even if your team is relatively small for the time being.
Reduced Labor Costs
Last but not least, the self-service model may reduce labor costs across the board. This is where the self-service model benefits long-term SaaS companies as well.
If you don’t need to hire a full-on sales staff to handle every new client or customer you onboard, you don’t have to pay all of those employees’ salaries. Instead, you can get by with a smaller team, which will widen your profit margins and enable you to take home more pay or profits.
A lean, streamlined business model is always wise, particularly in the fast-paced SaaS industry. Having more cash to go around since you need less labor is ideal if you need to modify your business model rapidly or build a new product to pursue new enterprise goals.
How to Maximize Your SaaS Business’s Profits with Self-Service
Now that you know just how beneficial the self-service model can be for SaaS businesses, let’s break down how you can maximize those benefits step-by-step.
Talk to Customers
Firstly, you’ll want to talk regularly with your core audience or customers. By talking to your customers, you can determine:
- What your customers need or want from your software products
- Where the best moments of the software experience come from (so you can double down on them later)
- How much privacy your customers want
- When your customers tend to adopt or subscribe to your SaaS products
- Whether there are any roadblocks on the way to software adoption/subscription and more
This information is invaluable as you revamp your business model and automate it for more efficiency. You should speak to your target audience even if you have a good idea of what they like.
Track Success KPIs/Metrics
Next, break down the most important key performance indicators or KPIs. Define the specific product metrics that let you track your success and adjust your efforts accordingly. These can include:
- Key usage metrics, like time spent on software
- Key lifecycle events
- Conversion rate, etc.
Identifying and locking down these success metrics will help you determine whether your self-service shift is working properly.
Make a Defined Customer Journey
Your SaaS services or products should offer a very defined, streamlined customer journey from start to finish. You should envision the distinct life cycle stage elements of your product, such as:
- The features and differences between trial and freemium models
- The differences between freemium models and full subscriptions
- When leads or visitors are most likely to convert into paying customers, and more
Look at each major stage of your SaaS software’s adoption cycle and see how to improve it. Does the website need to be redone? Is your software tutorial streamlined and easy to understand? Are the benefits of upgrading to a full-on SaaS product versus a freemium model clear for all your potential customers?
Streamline the Process
Continue to streamline your SaaS business as much as you can. Cut out any of the fat that might hinder customer growth or adoption, such as:
- Requirements for them to meet with one of your sales personnel to download or purchase your software
- Manual re-subscription requirements
- Onboarding tasks that don’t help your customers achieve what they subscribed to the software to solve
- Useless or confusing tutorials or guides
You can streamline the self-service SaaS product adoption process by making your onboarding process as smooth and simple as possible. Make it easy for people to start using your software and learning the ropes.
For example, if you offer a QuickBooks alternative, your software should be even more streamlined and easier to use than QuickBooks itself.
As you develop your self-service model, you can and should automate as many other interactions or marketing efforts as you can. Email automation is a great example.
When you automate your email marketing, that frees up more time for your team to spend on other aspects of the business. Regular emails can still be sent to remind people about their expiring subscriptions, bring back customers who subscribed once but then left, and so on.
You should also leverage new technologies like chatbots to automate basic customer service requests, such as finding your software’s knowledge base or the tutorial section.
Focus on Support
With all of your freed-up workforce, you should double down even more on top-tier customer support experiences. Make sure your team knows how to handle any technical queries that may come their way. With a properly leveraged self-service model, your SaaS community members will only ever contact you for major problems that require fast solutions.
All in all, it’s more than possible to maximize SaaS business growth using a self-service model. Adopting one today could help your enterprise thrive in this competitive market, especially if you’re running a startup that’s low on cash. Good luck!