Just software or something more? Why you should demand more from a cloud software provider than just software.
Although software as a service, as the name implies, is a service, customer-specific needs have not been prioritized as much as the scalability of the business model. What if instead of only focusing on scaling to a large number of customers, cloud services were delivered by serving and listening to the customer individually?
From a cloud-only service to a partnership
For us marketing people today, there is software available for even the smallest of most specific needs. There are chat bots, tools for analytics, query, and event management. My small team takes advantage of several great software solutions, and of course they are all delivered from the cloud. Cloud services are an easy way for a customer to obtain solutions to a variety of business challenges. From a vendor’s perspective, selling cloud services has been seen as an easy-to-grow and scalable way to deliver software.
Recently, I paid attention to how some cloud providers, us included, also focus on customized service. These cloud providers strive to ensure that the customer a) knows how to use the solution, b) clearly benefits from it, and thus c) remains a customer for years to come.
The reward is a loyal customer
This phenomenon sounds excellent to me. Organizations should be wholly focused on customer retention to the point that clients are so satisfied with their solution they don’t even check the renewal date for their contract. Endless value is gained by cloud software companies that focus on their customer’s complete satisfaction.
A solution provider has to seriously consider “is my customer getting the most of what they pay for the software?” To that end, it is worth investing in a partnership with the customer. Excellent service and a smooth customer experience will guarantee loyalty. Still, the solution provider gets more benefits than just a loyal customer.
In the past, after installing a software solution, most vendors left the customer alone to use their tool. Many failed to notice that the tips and tricks learned in user training were quickly forgotten. There were always changes in the staff, people came and left, and familiarization with the software only became more superficial. Customers began to come up with their own detour solutions, and the use of the software was eventually quite far from what the supplier intended.
In today’s world, the supplier should be more closely connected with end users. The interaction should be mutual. Users report inconveniences and ambiguities, and the provider can guide and provide helpful instructions, preferable on-the-go. At the same time, best practices are created for the entire customer base and vital input is gathered for further development of the solution. This is mutual learning at its best.
For example, some solutions are not useful in everyday work life – they require a user to be more proactive. If other things in a customer's everyday life always threaten to bypass the utilization of the cloud software, the focus should be on how to enfold the solution into everyday work. When providing such a service, the software provider learns a lot about the needs of the users and the barriers to use.
Answer: Something more
The more expensive the investment, the more important it is to have a close partnership between the customer and the supplier. For instance, ERP support requires understanding and support of a customer's business – a grasp of how each customer should benefit from the system.
Digitization itself does not add value, there are real business needs behind the concept that need to be met by cloud services and good customer service supports this. Better management of the relationship with the customer comes as a by-product, and boy, does that make a marketing veteran like me truly happy!