Many thanks to the newsletter reader who suggested this topic and preferred to remain anonymous.
The question is how to create premium support packages for SaaS when many of the features of premium support for traditional, on-premise support are included in standard offerings for SaaS. For instance, while extended-hours support is often viewed as a premium deliverable for on-prem, it is often offered to all SaaS customers. And Customer Success Managers (CSMs) are often assigned automatically to all customers.
Idea #1: SaaS standard support is not always that rich. For instance, SaaS support is not always 24×7, depending on the particular service you provide, and CSMs may not be assigned to smaller customers. Don’t think you have to include everything, and that kitchen sink, in your standard package.
Idea #2: SaaS standard support can be designed to encourage upgrading. This is not a recommendation, but it is a possibility. For instance, you could offer a sluggish response time of 48 hours for standard support (yes, I’m looking at you, Saleforce), with the idea that customers who see your service as mission critical will upgrade to something pricier and faster.
Idea #3: Even with a relatively rich standard package, you can always provide extras. Consider your customers’ specific needs but think about: faster response times, access to a dedicated (more senior) support team or to an assigned support engineer, access to a full-fledged account manager with more frequent contacts than the regular CSM, executive sponsors, membership in advisory boards, the ability to fast-track feature requests, proactive health checks, training credits, etc. Since SaaS customers often rely on the vendor much more than on-prem customers, professional services and sysadmin services are also good candidates for premium support features. And of course you can have more than one level of premium support.
Idea #4: Some SaaS customers will gladly pay for premium support. SaaS customers are just like any other customers; if they see that your premium offering can deliver something they value, they will pay for it, above and beyond standard support. Premium support packages for SaaS are common and well-accepted, at least by the top 10-20% of customers.
Idea #5: Premium pricing for SaaS is structured much like non-SaaS premium. For on-prem, premium support offerings runs 18-60% higher than regular support (depending on how rich the offering is), with prices expressed as a percentage of the product price. For SaaS, standard support is almost always bundled with the underlying pricing, but if you were to unbundle support (in your mind, that is) and add that very same 18-60% percentage to that number, you would have a good base for pricing premium support.
Also, SaaS premium offerings usually require long-term commitments (a year) just like the on-prem variety, even if standard support does not.
So there are many ways to offer premium options to SaaS customers. Please share what you are doing in the comments section.