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How Embedded Integration Platforms Boost Customer Service

How Embedded Integration Platforms Boost Customer Service

Everyone who has customers must dedicate some resources to customer service. If you ask SaaS companies how vital customer service (or customer support) is to the health of their product, they would say it's essential. As far as customers, a recent Salesforce report states that 88% of customers find the customer service a company provides as important as its product.

Effective customer service provides enormous value to a SaaS business: it can improve customer satisfaction, lead to referrals, and increase customer retention. It can also give insight into customer requests, problems, and usage patterns that can guide your product roadmap.

Yet customer service is one of the hardest things to do well consistently. Many factors contribute: lack of organizational focus on customer service, high ticket volume, understaffing, poor processes, lack of tooling, and more.

Supporting your SaaS product is hard enough. Supporting the native integrations that connect it to the rest of your customers' tech ecosystems is even harder.

Let's look at some of the problems that often arise with SaaS customer service in general. Then, we'll look at what makes customer service for integrations so difficult, and finally, discuss how embedded integration platforms can make that easier.

What are some common issues with SaaS customer service?

For SaaS products, most of the problems with customer service fall into the following categories:

  • A narrow view of customer service
  • Disorganized customer service
  • Inability to resolve issues quickly

A narrow view of customer service

A narrow view of customer service can be an easy trap to fall into. Customer service is a cost center, and most SaaS organizations carefully control that cost. However, that can sometimes lead to a reactive view of customer service, where efforts are mainly focused on addressing customer issues as they arise, rather than getting out in front of those issues before they occur or working with other teams to understand the bigger picture.

Disorganized customer service

Another mark of poor customer service is disorganization. Unfortunately, we've all had the experience of calling customer service and talking to one person for several minutes, explaining the details of our problem, only to be shifted over to another person – who, it turns out, requires us to go through the entire story a second time. This sort of thing is incredibly frustrating for both the customer and the customer service rep.

Disorganized customer service often extends to self-service as well. Customers are directed to interact with a knowledge base, chatbot, or another expert system only to run into a wall at some point and get directed to a person. And then, the customer finds out that the person isn't aware of the knowledge base, doesn't have access to the chatbot logs, or doesn't understand what the expert system is trying to do. There's no connection between the different tools and processes in the organization to make it easy for the customer to find a non-frustrating path to problem resolution.

Inability to resolve issues quickly

The Salesforce study noted above states that "83% [of SaaS customers] expect to solve complex problems by talking to one person."

That's quite an expectation, and a difficult one to meet. Reasons for this include having insufficient personnel, having poorly qualified personnel, and not empowering customer service with the tools and knowledge necessary to resolve issues.

Sometimes customer service can feel like more of an answering service that gets an issue into a queue, while users must wait for tickets to be created, engineering to be consulted, follow-up messages to be sent, and so on – a slow and frustrating process. Customer service KPIs suffer as a result, such as low first-call resolution and long average time to resolution.

How do you improve your customer service?

How can you improve customer service? Some solutions are straightforward: increase staffing levels, hire more qualified personnel, improve staff training.

It's also wise to get to the root (or roots!) of the problem. Analyzing the data in your CRM often reveals one or two particular areas of your product or types of issues that are major contributors to high ticket volume, low first-call resolution, long average time to resolution.

For SaaS companies that provide integrations to their customers' other products, those integrations are often a major culprit.

What makes SaaS integration support hard?

Let's look at the ways integrations make life tricky for customer service teams and the users they serve:

  1. Integrations generate an inordinate volume of support tickets.
  2. Documentation and self-help tools are often missing for integrations.
  3. Customer service teams usually lack tools for troubleshooting and fixing integrations.
  4. Resolving integration issues usually requires engineering involvement, which leads to lots of back-and-forth and long resolution times.

For these reasons, even SaaS companies who provide excellent customer service overall have trouble upholding those standards when it comes to integration support.

How can you improve customer service for your integrations?

There are some things you can do concerning your native integrations that can positively impact your customers, their customer service experiences, and how they view your product and your people.

An embedded integration platform can help optimize your customer service response by making everything from integration documentation to configuration directly available to customers. And you can ensure that customer service is better equipped with the knowledge and tools to answer most of your customer's integration-related questions on that first call, email, or chat. In short, using an embedded integration platform will let you focus your personnel on the most critical product and integration issues.

Let's see how it all works.

Customer service benefits of an embedded integration platform

Customer service for SaaS integrations can be all over the place, depending on how you built them, which people in your org are well versed in them, and what kind of tools you have available.

An embedded integration platform, however, has several things built into it that can lead directly to a consistent, helpful customer service experience for integrations.

Let's look at an embedded integration platform and see how it can boost customer service right out of the box. With an embedded integration platform, you can:

  1. Leverage an infrastructure purpose-built for integrations
  2. Empower non-engineers to solve most integration issues
  3. Allow customers to self-service their integrations

#1: Leverage an infrastructure purpose-built for integrations

Building an integration is only the first step of the integration challenge.

Integrations also present significant infrastructure challenges. You may have the available capacity with your current production environment, but SaaS integrations have redundancy, security, and scalability needs that your environment may not support.

The foundation of an embedded integration platform is an infrastructure that is purpose-built for running integrations.

Customer service benefits in two ways from leveraging that purpose-built infrastructure for native integrations:

  • First, you don't have your engineers and support personnel spending time on integration infrastructure (handling all the upgrades, security patches, and backups).

  • Second, using the infrastructure provided by the embedded integration platform (with resources to manage a nearly unlimited number of integrations) substantially reduces integration problems in production and associated customer service requests, compared to deploying integrations on infrastructure built in-house.

#2: Empower non-engineers to solve most integration issues

In a typical customer service environment, first-level support takes the calls/emails/chats and then refers more complex matters to the next level (either more technical non-devs, or the developers themselves). As a result, you end up using many of your more critical resources (engineering hours) for work that doesn't advance your core product.

An embedded integration platform shifts much of the day-to-day integration onboarding and support functions to non-engineers. The platform is an accessible, centralized repository for integration info so that customer-facing teams can answer customer questions without consulting devs. You can also upload documents like design specifications, troubleshooting steps – whatever your teams need. They can easily see which customers have which integrations enabled, their configurations, when they last ran, if any errors have occurred, and so on.

Configurable monitoring alerts the appropriate teams when an integration encounters an error or doesn't run when expected. Built-in logging makes it easy to dig in and troubleshoot. Customer-facing teams can easily handle everyday needs like updating outdated credentials, tweaking a configuration, or upgrading to a newer version of an integration.

By empowering your non-engineers, you significantly increase the odds that customers with integration issues will be able to resolve them via one or two interactions with your customer-facing teams and not end up in a backlog with engineering. You'll still have things that are complicated enough to involve engineering, but those issues become the minority.

#3: Allow customers to self-service their integrations

Traditional integration development often leaves your customers with little to no insight into the integrations: which ones are available, how they work, how they're configured, how to determine if the integration is working correctly, and what (if anything) a customer can do if there are issues. As a result, your customers depend entirely on your onboarding and support teams for any integration setup, maintenance, or support.

An embedded integration platform eases the load on your teams by enabling customers to perform many tasks traditionally handled by support. Customers can search and view available integrations using an in-app integration marketplace and then self-activate them. They can also enter and update their credentials and other config options. And finally, customers can set up monitoring to receive alerts about integration state and actions and then view integration logs to perform initial issue troubleshooting.

Enabling this functionality for your customers translates into far fewer issues for customer service.

Customer service isn't everything, but it is critical

It's possible to have a product without customer service. But that product won't survive for very long. Poor customer service is regularly cited as one of the main reasons customers walk away from a product.

Using an embedded integration platform for your integrations can substantially enhance your customers' interactions with customer service, but beyond that, it can move many of the little details of setting up and managing integrations directly into the hands of your customers. The bottom line is that your customers get the integration answers they need more quickly and with less fuss than they would without the capabilities of the embedded integration platform. Your customers are happier, your customer-facing teams are happier, and you have more resources to dedicate to your core product.

Request a demo to see how Prismatic's embedded integration platform can give you the tools you need to boost your customer service.

Download the Embedded Integration Platform Guide

Download the Embedded Integration Platform Guide

Learn about these and other benefits of using an embedded integration platform to manage your native integrations.

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About Prismatic

Prismatic is the integration platform for B2B software companies. It's the quickest way to build integrations to the other apps your customers use and to add a native integration marketplace to your product. A complete embedded iPaaS solution that empowers your whole organization, Prismatic encompasses an intuitive integration designer, embedded integration marketplace, integration deployment and support, and a purpose-built cloud infrastructure. Prismatic was built in a way developers love and provides the tools to make it perfectly fit the way you build software.

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