Cautionary Tales for Implementing SaaS Products

Technology should make life easier. There are countless examples of technology that does — GPS, microwaves, and sales analytics, just to name a few. But sometimes well intentioned vendors just don’t get it quite right, and technology meant to make things easier backfires.

When we have to implement a new SaaS tool at work and suddenly get bogged down in training webinars, loading screens, and customer support calls, we all have the same, very negative reaction:

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We wrote a post awhile back on why sales tools fail, and decided to follow that post up with real stories about SaaS tool adoption gone wrong. Specifically, we wanted to glean a few lessons from the common mistakes vendors make getting organizations to adopt their products.

We learned a few critical lessons for vendors after speaking to users and admins who had a problem, bought a tool to solve it… And ended up throwing the tool out because it didn’t get the job done.

If you sell a SaaS product, keep these lessons in mind and avoid making the same mistakes with your customers. Sales reps and customer success managers alike stand to learn a lot from these stories.

1. Act on feedback

Shannon Wilson - OnShift

Shannon, a Salesforce Technician at OnShift, was part of a team that invested in a tool to record meetings at onsite visits so reps could focus on selling and go back after the fact to record notes.

Unfortunately, the app had a lot of bugs, and her reps found it clumsy to use. The Onshift team suggested improvements to the vendor, but felt their input was falling on deaf ears.

“We were one of their bigger clients and they wouldn’t listen to our pain problems. If they won’t listen to suggestions from their biggest client, it makes them look like they don’t care about their customers’ wants and needs.”

This story reiterates the importance of mastering customer service skills to maintain and grow business. Namely, the importance of responsibility, attentiveness and empathy.

The vendor in this example might not have been able to meet all of Shannon’s requests, but at a minimum they should have explained why they weren’t meeting customer requests.

By keeping tabs on that feedback, the vendor could begin developing a more customer focused product development schedule, and ensure they’re building something that people will actually use.

2. If it’s not easy to use, it won’t get used

Joe Tidei - Talution

This story from Joe Tidei of Talution Group is way too common in the SaaS world. His company implemented a training tool designed to simplify onboarding and increase usage of other technical resources at the team’s disposal.

Unfortunately, the tool violated the first rule of effective adoption — it was complex and time consuming to use.

“A single module had way too many different steps. Being in sales, we don’t have a lot of patience for technology. We need it to work right away,” Tidei explained.

“I’m doing this (training) before and after work on the train ride, so the adoption wasn’t as good because of the length. They made it feel like a novel, when it should have been a short story. We’ve got clients to serve, we’ve got candidates to call, and this was taking out of our day.”

As a developer, you want to highlight all of the features you spend time building into your product. Just remember that desire is often counterproductive. Focus your users on the core function of your product.

Customer service reps need to take that lesson to heart as well, and adhere to the old sales mantra: demonstrate value every chance you get.

Figure out which function gets the most use by speaking with current customers and go all in to get newer customers up and running with that function as quickly as possible. Your customers may not take full advantage of everything your product can do, but they also may not want everything your product can do. That’s an important distinction to make when it comes to usability.

3. Every product has a learning curve

Priya Ghosh

Even if your product is as user friendly and streamlined as possible, your users will need training on how to use it.

Priya Ghosh remembers running into problems with insufficient training when her company implemented a document storage system to house documentation for enterprise projects. “The purpose was to gather all project documents from the project management office such as user stories, burn-downs, requirements, slide-decks, etc.,” she explained.

“The main challenges when we brought in this tool were implementation and adoption. I wish they could have provided an in-house training, and more support during implementation…. If we had someone there, in the room with us while we made those implementation decisions, it would have really benefitted us.”

There’s an important lesson there for customer service reps and salespeople alike: your job isn’t done until your customer makes daily use of your product.

Take time to conduct customer check-in calls, training webinars, and nurturing email drips to make sure that your customers get the value they expect from your product.

Salespeople can (and should) help the adoption by gathering knowledge of the customer pain points, the layout of the organization, and their adaptability to your product, and share as much information as possible with customer service reps.

That’s the key to securing an effective handoff and minimizing the gap between what your customers expect from your service and what they actually receive.

Don’t lose customers to shortcomings that your team can control. It all starts with the salesperson’s ability to evaluate customer accounts and lay the foundation for an effective implementation.

If the salesperson misidentifies the most important stakeholders or misses the underlying pain points that drive a purchase, the customer service rep will have a much harder time actually delivering the promised services.

Incorporate feedback from customers to develop a selling system that matches their buying process and delivers the best possible solution to the people who need it most. That’s how you develop a happy customer base, and establish a legacy in the SaaS space.

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