Could your Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) venture survive a basic customer service checklist?
With the shock that comes from things that are new, humans naturally look for familiar analogs to innovative ideas; many companies treat SaaS and cloud computing as an end product, although their buyers never open a box or install software onto their desktops. What is often overlooked is the service provided and the fickleness (or wisdom) of large crowds.
- How does the SaaS software improve upon existing physically delivered software?
- Do cloud providers offer tiered software subscriptions based on levels of service or pricing?
- How easily does the cloud service integrate with the client’s existing programs?
- How is billing handled: data usage, data storage; billed a month ahead or on actual usage; invoiced, credit card, ACH?
- How is customer lifetime value calculated?
- What loyalty incentives are on offer: long-term contracts, free backup or restoration, additional free data storage, personalised technical support?
- What data security guarantees are provided?
- What liability insurance is available?
- How does the provider implement technical support: a staffed call desk, automated, closed weekends, down at 5:00 p.m?
- Ensure that your SaaS model allows for customisation to take into account unique needs or cultural adaptations;
- Providers should respond positively and quickly to customer complaints or inquiries; and value your end goal above your software.
- Self service: Solve simple issues so they never arise again, or provide easy directions to keep support requirements to a minimum.
- Semi-self service: Reinforced telephone conversations with follow-up emails outlining the steps used to resolve every issue raised.
- Concierge service: A complete and professional service, including training and on-site assistance.
- Bespoke service: Every interaction custom-tailored; handcraft it one byte at a time to support unique use of your service.
- Convenient, economical and worry-free as SaaS may be, customers can leave quickly if dissatisfied. A basic customer service checklist can help you identify weaknesses in your prospective software-delivery-maintenance stream.
Software engineers and IT departments may disdain the work of a sales force, but in SaaS everyone is in sales. Customers can cancel a software subscription far faster than they can shift investments in new hardware and purchased software. Consequently, everyone at the SaaS venture must not only speak up for the software, but listen closely to you, the customer: