The hidden reality in the SaaS community: It’s not the software, but the service that differentiates cloud providers in building quality customer relationships. So while many providers spend their time and resources improving the feature functionality of their software, their customers are focusing on expectations of the consistent quality of service delivery they’ve come to expect from traditional providers.
Beyond being expected by today’s customers, service is now an essential. With up to 90 percent of buying decisions made before engaging with sales, according to Forrester, SaaS customer relationships are won and lost by the quality of experience they deliver.
In this slideshow, SAP’s head of HR Line of Business Mike Ettling shows how SaaS companies can make the “service” side of business the hero of their customer relationships, gaining customer loyalty and improving the bottom line.
Improving the Service Side of SaaS
Click through for seven ways cloud providers can improve the service side of SaaS, as identified by SAP’s head of HR Line of Business Mike Ettling.
Communicate Product Direction Far in Advance
What sets SaaS apart is the fact that improvements are constantly being delivered. While customers understand that their product is likely to change over time, they need to be clear on what direction their vendor is going in, and how to plan to manage potential new features and functionality. This allows them to make the best long-term decisions to meet business needs.
Allow Customers into the Testing Process
Releasing systems for testing prior to a live release ensures that bugs are found sooner and any needed change management can be put in place. Involving customers in the testing process before launch benefits the customer and the vendor.
Prepare Relevant Documentation 60 Days Prior to Release
Vendors naturally want to focus on improving features and functionality, but a breakdown can happen in how those features are communicated to users. It’s important to share any new feature information with customers far in advance – at least two months – in order for your customer base to prepare for the changes.
Make the Software Easier to Integrate into a Customer’s Infrastructure
Many vendors make the mistake of having customers remove or replace pieces of their existing IT infrastructure, in order to adopt a SaaS solution. There should be no need for customers to start from scratch, and vendors must prioritize ease of integration within their product strategy.
Few things are more damaging to a customer relationship than downtime. Planned downtime is a necessary evil in order to keep applications updated and secure. But when such outages are planned, sharing this information with customers in advance will give them time to prepare and react. The day is quickly coming when the industry will be able to eliminate the need for these outages.
Manage Customer Requests by Urgency, Not History
As customer service has become more automated and efficient, it’s a natural process to categorize tickets in terms of similar past issues. But oftentimes, there are customer issues that need to be prioritized and managed above and beyond a historical categorization. It’s also necessary that service teams be transparent and forthcoming with any potential issues, in order to build a customer’s long-term trust.
Build Out a Quality Community of Integration Partners
Your systems integrators are your greatest allies in the software community. They can also be a provider’s greatest headaches, if not trained properly on the latest updates and software integrations. At the end of the day, it’s a vendor’s responsibility if their technology does not work, so they need to manage their partnerships with care and accountability.