SaaS Providers & Customer Service
The year 2020 has forced organizations to consider how they service customers and enable staff to do their work by having them reconsider the benefits and value of their current technology practices.
Look at the fun visual below: most businesses use a combination of managing their own data centers and software or by using cloud-based facilities. Software as a Service (SaaS) allows a provider to perform a service on their technology. You pay for the provider's expertise and convenience to maintain the servers, networks, security, software, and the upgrades or changes. No more cooking as you always eat out!
SaaS providers now perform almost any main business functions: HR, Accounting, Sales, Finance, Communication, Coding, Marketing, Websites, and more. The cost benefits dazzle the eyes but consider that when you allow someone else to perform a business function that the customer still sees you.
At a restaurant, if the service is terrible, you never return to that restaurant. In the eyes of your customer – you are the restaurant! Therefore, how you interrogate the provider before deciding to use them and how you monitor and respond afterward is paramount to your business's success.
The rest of this article offers insights and tips to ensure that your relationship with a SaaS provider does not ruin the relationships with your staff and customers.
- Transitioning to SaaS changes your workflow – how will you be trained, and what documentation will you receive?
- Are any other vendors impacted, which will also require training, and who pays for this?
- Your products will require integration with the SaaS provider, so how will you train them?
- How will changes to the SaaS provider service be addressed?
- Do customers require new FAQs?
- If someone has a question, do they go to an internal team, the service desk, or the SaaS provider?
Know Your User
Before you move a service to SaaS, you need to define the user of that service. Deep dive:
- What is the user of this service in terms of ability, technology, the reason to use the service, expected benefits from their view, and dislikes?
- What is the journey of that user as they use the service? Where will there be issues?
- How can the SaaS provider mitigate these issues? How will you know that problems are occurring?
- What messages can you provide the user to help them on their journey or if they get stuck? Can the message be personalized?
- What can you automate for the users, such as renewals, reminders, or upsells, or anything to make the journey more enjoyable?
- Can users form part of your test team to improve the journey's flow or provide feedback on proposed changes before go-live or to develop future releases?
IT Service Management
ITSM is the practice of allowing technology to benefit someone. It is a required business set of processes that engender better, faster, safer technology applications that deliver value. Initially the IT domain, Enterprise Service Management (ESM), is now commonplace as organizations take advantage of the cloud, SaaS, or move to digital products.
Not long ago, more technology services supported a single department, with only Finance reaching out across all areas. Now technology services are so integrated into your work that a change in one place impacts the entire organization and could disrupt your customers. ITSM processes and tools can help by:
- Logging all incidents or requests, no matter who sees them, the SaaS provider or your teams.
- Merging the incident and request data for performance reporting, improvement actions and decision-making. Daily integration is best practice.
- Helping to determine how long it takes for incidents or requests to be resolved or some sort of communication is issued to the customer? Lack of service will increase customer churn, and they might disparage you in social media.
- Creating alerts for monitored services.
- Obtaining historical information to ensure that improvements are of value.
- Enabling user support via live chat, AI chat, easy to find widgets, easy to read FAQs, and reporting on these interfaces' satisfaction.
- Acquiring your customers' level of satisfaction and does this match to the XLAs (Experiences Levels Agreement) with your provider.
- Informing support staff on offers as refunds or incentives during disruptive events or poor service.
- To know when to follow up with customers that require special care.
Metrics of SaaS
At some point, your customers will have issues that highlight your value stream or service pipeline's weaknesses. The tools that you use to monitor, alert, investigate, and respond to these issues can be improved by agreed metrics that make sense, such as the ones below:
- How fast do customers receive a response?
- What do they feel about that response?
- How fast are incidents or requests resolved?
- What is the lifetime value of a customer?
- What is the cost of servicing a customer?
- What is the cost of acquiring a customer?
- What is your customer churn?
- What is the total investment of SaaS over your customer value or cost?
- Is there a group of customers that benefit more from a SaaS provider than others allowing you to decide how best to service those customers?
The economy of tomorrow will be fully customer (user) centered. SaaS, cloud, digital and ESM will enable your products and services to become more individualized. Your SaaS provider has little value to you if the user journey is full of bad service. Your goal is to leverage the provider to retain and attract customers and staff. Thinking about how this will happen, setting clear expectations, expectations, documenting service examples with metrics in the contract, testing and monitoring service delivery, and having active conversation with your SaaS provider will ensure that the customers' experiences are delightful.
If you are looking for ways to improve your customer experience through technology and digital transformation, let's chat!