Software or Service: What Should You Prioritize?
It's customers who take their business elsewhere. It's money that's simply gone. It's the percentage of SaaS subscribers that stops using the product.
It's churn, and sometimes there's nothing you can do about it.
Or is there?
Google "SaaS churn rate" and most of the information you are likely to reach will focus on delivering exceptional software while at the same time delivering exceptional customer service.
Successfully deliver on both and you will likely be able to reduce your churn rate. But what if you're like most up-and-coming SaaS companies and you have to prioritize? Which should come first: software or service?
Software or Service?
Which came first, the software or the service? It's not an easy question to answer. After all, without the software, no one would sign up for your service.
What you need to know, however, is that engagement is everything when it comes to successful software marketing.
It's all about the Software
Your business simply won't be able to survive if customers are not engaging with your product. In other words, if your customers aren't using what you're selling, your business is probably going to be a goose egg.
This means your product simply has to work. Every time. Without exception. If it doesn't work, no customer in their right mind is going to use it—no matter how well you serve it up.
So to make sure your product works, you need to measure how often people are using it. If a customer is using your software on a regular basis, you're on the right track. That customer isn't likely to become churn.
However, if a customer isn't using your product, this should sound an alarm; it's at least not working for that user. Now your mission is to get a little more insight as to why. Software that isn't engaging to those who are paying to use it, or those who are evaluating it for purchase if you've offered a free trial, is destined to face an uphill battle in long term revenue generation.
Or is it all about the Service?
There is a reason customers choose SaaS. In fact, there are several: it saves time, it deploys quickly, and your customers can operate it with uninterrupted flow of their business operations.
Or at least it should save time, deploy quickly, and deliver uninterrupted flow of business operations. Because if it doesn't, it isn't delivering exceptional service, and your customers will be gone.
So make sure your customer service experience is unparalleled. Without exceptional customer service, all the best software marketing techniques in the world—including a robust inbound marketing strategy—won't help.
Make sure your customer service path is robust and covers all of the bases. That means you'll need to be prepared to address common user mistakes and misunderstandings as well as anything resting on the technicalities of the software's promised performance. If it's too difficult for the user to understand how to use it, it won't matter how well it works.
You have got to deliver the basics, which were mentioned above, and you've also got to be able to grow with your customers' businesses, offer timely upgrades to continuously improve and help your customers succeed.
Which brings you back to Software...
One of the most effective ways to help your customers succeed is to focus your efforts on the features that matter most to them. Use your analytics to figure out what those features are (look for those that are always part of the daily workflow) and then work to make them even better.
Practice social listening just as much as you pay attention to reviews. People often vent their frustrations with situations in the social media space and it may or may not include your brand name.
In addition to helping you monitor for ways to improve the user experience of your own software, you might also get the bonus of capturing the attention of someone in the market who is unhappy with a competing product. Make sure you're prepared to provide a helpful answer to someone, even if they are using a competing solution.
So it really is all about the Software!
OK, it's all about the software. But you can't deliver exceptional product without delivering an exceptional user experience, which is all about the service.
So go ahead and put the software first, but make sure that you also work on the interface, functionality, speed, features and cost.
All of this combined will help improve your software marketing and avoid the dreaded churn that can quickly kill your company.