I have a problem with a quote... Can you help me?


My niche-based SaaS is starting to work, and “problems” are coming. I still haven’t any customer, but I’m negotiating with an association who want 500 licenses of my SaaS. Important, they don’t want a license for 500 users, they want 500 “single licenses”.

And well, next Tuesday I have a meeting with this association, I must give them a quote. I have an idea of the starting price (I understand that there will be a negotiation and they’ll want a lower price). This price isn’t (500 * lower tier price), it’s lower, but I’m worried about the support.

My idea is to give only support by email. My SaaS is complex, but really easy to use. I’ve worked a lot with the UX, and my Quality Deparment (my wife :sweat_smile: ) is very strict about usability. But in general the users targeted aren’t tech savvy.

And my question is: All of you who has lots of customers, it’s easy to offer support to such quantity of users? Do you do only email-based support, or you have a support? Keep in mind that ALL these 500 users are from my region in Spain, so same language and same time-zone. And giving support to 500 users is (more or less) like 500 times more work than giving support to one user? Should I be prepared to hire a couple of people for doing support (and thus raising the price of the quote)?

Thank for your help, my business is growing too fast and I’m a bit worried…

Hi mcasas,

Is it easy to offer support for 500 users? I hate to tell you this but “it depends”. However, I can offer you some considerations to help you figure out if you can handle it:

  1. What about user onboarding? Is it dead easy to get started or are you going to have to help 500 users get started?

  2. Is it really just 500 users? Or does each license allow more users?

  3. Do you have the tooling in place to build up a knowledge base and allow users to find their own answer?

  4. Will providing support even part-time hamper your ability to grow your business? I have no clue what price range you’re talking or what your income requirement are, so hard to tell you if you need to hire someone or if you can afford it.

For reference, I once did support for 600 users via phone, at times it was a full time job, but mostly part time, but these users confused the monitor with their computer and the software was billing and accounting software for self storages.

I would suggest email support. Or do something like HubSpot does, where uses can request you call them. If you haven’t seen how HubSpot offers support I’d say check them out.

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Hi Bryan,

  1. I think that it’s easy to get started, but as they aren’t power used, I supose that at the beggining is when there’ll be more support requests.

  2. They want to hire 500 accounts. Each account is for an organization, and each organization can have up to 10 users. Anyway, this organizations are really small, so 50-60% of the accounts will be with only one user.

  3. Currently I haven’t any KB tool nor ticketing solution. It’s the next think I’ll need to investigate.

  4. I don’t think that providing support will harm my business. Just the other side: giving support helps you to learn what are the difficult parts of the applications from the user point of view, so you know where you can improve the user experience to enhance the software (and, at the same time, make a good reputation of ease of use software). Ah, my standard prices are between 30€/month (minimun tier) and 150€/month (higher tier).

And yes, my idea is to offer only email support. Let’s see how the negotations go, and if the big association agree with this.

Hi mcasas,

Have you considered a “train the trainer” approach?

Meaning you train a selected number of users of - and appointed by - the customer, who can then provide first line support.
You yourself do the second line support, preferably through these guys, either by email or telephone, to be negotiated with the customer.

Also, your customer seems to be a large organization and they may have an extensive IT department. What about using this channel for first line support alternatively?

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Great Idea. It’s what we do on volume discounts: They assign one or two people to be their “point of contact”. We provide support to THOSE people. That way you don’t have to explain the same thing over and over again.

Email is not guarantee of less work, just that you can batch that work(which is a plus).

Yes, this is exactly what I want to offer to the main customer, but I don’t know if he will agree with it. But it’s easy: me (my business) being a second line support equals to a discount…

No, it isn’t a large organization. It’s really simple: my customer is some kind of “syndicate”, and organization of associations. They dictate the rules for all the organizations and so, but it’s a really small organization (AFAIK, less than 20 employees and without IT department). They externalize all the non-basic services. Anyway, I’ll tell them about being the first line support, so I can lower the price.

I agree with you. You can have lots of work giving support by email, but if you organize it reasonably well (email templates, a good FAQ and a good organized knowledge base) it can be very efficient. And the best of all is that you can do support when you want, without the phone breaking when you’re concentrated developing, writing a tutorial or negotiating some hundred licenses with another big customer… And there is another and very important reason: all the support is written, so you have an history of how thinks are going, and also the customer has the emails as reference for the future.

@mcasas, what could be a reason for the users to ask for support? do you think you have bugs in software, or do you have lack of documentation / tutorials? I am supporting 310 customers via email without a 3rd party ‘trainer’, it is not a big problem

@startrinity, there are multiple reasons for the users to ask for support:

  • There are bugs in the software. There are bugs in ALL the software, so mine isn’t exception. The only problem is that I still haven’t found it.
  • The documentation is still a work in progress. I’m working on it, but I’m also improving/enhancing the software, so there are always more documentation to write.
  • My application is complex. It’s some kind of CRM with accounting for small associations. I try yo make the application easy to use and intuitive, but there are lots of options / hidden features.
  • This application is targeting to non tech-savvy computer users, so I expect that at the beginning there will be lots of questions.

And well, it’s good to know that you’re supporting 310 users via email without problems. :slight_smile:

An update on the topic: The meeting with the main customer (the “syndicate”) was last Tuesday, and it went really good. They’d decided that don’t want to buy directly 500 licenses because are unsure about all 500 small associations using my software inmediatly, so we arranged an agreement about buying packages of licenses.

This way I’ll have a more “natural grow”, and I can improve support and software in a quieter way, without the stress of having 500 users/customers in a very short time.

Also, the main customer told me that they haven’t enough human resources to do first line support, so I’ll be doing all the support. The good side? They agree that email support is enough.

And thank you for all your help! I’ve learned a lot about support in this small thread! :slight_smile:

One last question: Can you recommend me a support software with knowledge base?

I think you will fix the bugs as the users report them. I can hardly believe that they all will report immediately. Also, you can update your docs (e.g. write FAQ) from your support emails to minimize your work for the support. It will be OK, just need to optimize the software and the documentation iteratively. After some time the users will use your software with no need of help (like for example Microsoft Office - I can install it and use it with no need of technical support)

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Congratulations with your agreement! Yes, it looks unrealistic that all 500 users will start to use a new product immediately. I think your main goal now is to develop an efficient KB. I don’t have that (no need so far). I know that scichart.com uses “Kayako”.

Thank you for sharing

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@mcasas, do you have any error/bug reporting in your software implemented? in other words will you get notified about errors in browser and on the server?

@startrinity, yes, I have an error log on the server, and when an error is found, and email is sent to me. Why?

@mcasas, why you need to be reported about bugs and fix them. it is good that you have it. how are the things going right now? have you got any feedback from first of the 500 users?

I’d just like to remind that one of the fathers of this forum built a support + KB software called Snappy. Despite it has been sold since, it is a very nice software for small businesses.

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