Most businesses understand that the best way to get the most from enterprise software is to have a great relationship with their vendor, but what does that actually mean in principle, and what should they actually expect? The reality is that the nature of customer and vendor relationships has evolved with the introduction of SaaS solutions to businesses, and on a positive note, vendors are often seen more as partners now. What are the fruitful building blocks of these relationships, and what pitfalls should both parties be looking to avoid?
Analyse the Customer Experience Carefully
One of the true building blocks of a great customer and vendor relationship is the practice of actively identifying and documenting key pain points across all customers. Vendors that do this can run continuous programmes dedicated to enhancing any internal processes that affect the customer experience. It’s about listening to customer feedback and analysing it in a constructive and practical way.
We’re doing this on a daily basis and running workshops with our customer-facing teams to take into account direct customer feedback. For us, it’s about building a culture of communication and a more effective working relationship with internal teams. When customers feel they are being listened to and that your team is acting on their feedback, it can only serve to enhance and reinforce the quality of your mutual relationship.
Embrace the Continuous Nature of SaaS
By nature, SaaS offers new functionality continuously, with new features rolled out via the cloud to all users as soon as they are tested and released. New users also come into the picture, and companies may also decide to take on new lines of business with software features they may not have used previously.
It’s an opportunity for vendors to look at the customer journey as a continuous loop and to improve and grow customer relationships over time, whether that be in the delivery of the software solution itself, or the support provided for that solution.
The beauty of a SaaS relationship is also that there are more opportunities to communicate in more creative ways. In the past, notice of new functionality may have just been included in release notes, but today, companies are getting more proactive in communicating new features. Regular webinar demonstrations, customer community posts and knowledge bases are helping to foster the continuous relationship that is helping customers to get more out of their solutions.
Adopt a Service Recovery Approach
One of the biggest traps which vendors can fall into is focusing entirely on complaint handling. Companies should really focus on moving away from this service recovery approach. Good quality service recovery involves actively reaching out to customers to investigate any issues they may have had. Often, this starts with customer journey mapping and casting a critical eye over your own internal processes to see if there is any way you can improve.
A great service recovery approach should also involve consistently re-engaging with customers to measure whether improvements have been effective.
SaaS Customer Centricity
As SaaS vendors, we also have to understand the challenges our customers face in business: too much information and too much complexity, pressure on productivity, and how to embrace technology to move forward in their profession. Our team works side-by-side with our customers to create and manage solutions driven by a deep understanding of their needs, addressing the rapid changes in their environment. These are the pillars of a solid SaaS customer vendor relationship, and if managed carefully, both parties can look forward to reaping the benefits.