SaaS is more than the software – How Customer Support Plays its Part

SaaS: The cleaner way to do business in the digital age

In the early years of aviation, if you wanted to fly somewhere, you needed your own airplane. The only option was to buy one. Not long before that, the only choice had been to build one yourself. Until then, of course, you would have needed to invent one.

It doesn’t make sense for everyone to own an airplane.

Very soon, commercial airlines emerged, providing passengers with the opportunity to travel vast distances without the excessive cost of actually owning a plane, not to mention the small matter of actually learning to fly the damn thing. The concept of flying as a service, rather than a product, proved unsurprisingly popular. Cloud commuting, you could call it.

 

Software in the Sky

The history of software is similar. Thanks to the ingenuity of early technological pioneers, many varieties of software were developed, helping individuals, and companies, complete a whole variety of useful tasks. Initially, however, using software required owning software.

The traditional model of software ownership caused many headaches for owners of businesses of all sizes, not least of which was the high up-front cost. In addition to that commitment, a software owner would also have to become (or hire) an expert at installation, updates, integration. They would have to learn to use the damn thing.

Nowadays though, thanks to cloud computing, companies no longer need to purchase software outright. Hosted centrally, accessed remotely, and paid for by subscription, software is now offered as a service. Typically accessed through a web interface, nothing needs to be installed: all that is required is an internet connection.

The SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) model has revolutionized the software industry.

Try Before You Buy

The advantages to this model are numerous. Firstly, cost. For smaller companies, purchasing software outright could prove prohibitively expensive. And once it was bought, you were stuck with it. The SaaS model tends to operate on a monthly or yearly basis. So, if you are unsatisfied with the service, you can simply end your subscription. Better yet, many providers will offer low-cost (or even free) trials, so companies can test the service with no initial expenditure.

The real value of SaaS, though, comes down to what businesses no longer have to pay for at all. In the traditional model, each company who purchased software would then be responsible for that software and, more importantly, the hardware necessary to keep it operational. That’s not cheap.

Neither is paying for in-house IT support to maintain the software, and hoping their training equips them to understand each new update which becomes available.

Traditionally, of course, companies would be required to pay for whatever update was released. With SaaS, the updates come for free, without hassle, and typically far more regularly than they would have with the old model. With only one configuration of the software to worry about, and no backdated version to maintain, software providers can concentrate on regular improvements. There’s nothing to download: users simply log in to find that the software has improved.

It’s like arriving at the airport for a flight, and your plane has jet engines, rather than propellers.

 

“It’s the Economics, Stupid”

For owners of small and medium sized businesses, SaaS may be hard to resist for its ease-of-use, lower operational costs and constant improvements. However, what about bigger businesses, with sizeable in-house IT departments and budgets which can handle a large initial outlay? Why shouldn’t they own software, rather than renting?

For them, SaaS’ ultimate selling point may be the service that they receive.

The reason is that if you care about the software you are paying for, you need to find a company that cares about the service they are providing. When software is sold as a product, it is too easy for a company to act like a used-car (or used-plane…) salesman, fudging the statistics and saying whatever it takes to make the sale happen. And afterwards, you never see them again.

You may only realize the product’s flaws when it’s too late… you’re in mid-air, with no turning back.

Software and a Service

For companies selling software as a service, keeping customers satisfied is all-important. Attracting businesses to use your software is only the first step. For the software to be a financial success, customers have to renew their subscriptions, which means they must be kept happy. It’s not enough to provide functionality, speed, and regular improvements. The product matters, but so does the service.

The flight has to arrive on time and the cabin crew must smile.

In the old model, buyers had to make a big commitment. With SaaS, the commitment must come from the provider. Their service has to be of the highest standard, for the entire duration of the subscription; otherwise, a buyer can simply go elsewhere. It’s not just the product that is on-demand, it also has to be the support.

Luckily, the SaaS model allows for a high quality of support. If there is a problem with your software, do you want to ask your own IT department, or the IT department of the company who designed the software? At the end of the day, nobody knows the software as well as they do.

Furthermore, unlike smaller businesses, many software companies can afford to provide support 24 hours a day, allowing software users to focus on the fundamentals of their business.

 

Ximble: Time-keeping kept simple

At Ximble, our employee scheduling software helps businesses all across the world save time and energy keeping track of their workforces. Operating on a subscription model, and offering a two week trial with no credit card required, we understand the importance of keeping customers happy.

And that means not wasting their time.

We cater to many varieties of clients, in various industries: from hospitality to retail, hair salons to higher education. All of our customers share a desire to monitor employees’ working time efficiently. Using Ximble, they can manage requests, schedule shifts, and monitor time logs from anywhere, while employees can clock in using our web-app, Ximble Kiosk for tablet, or on mobile devices.

Helpfully, our software integrates seamlessly with other essential business tools including software for payroll, HR, and Point of Sale. And, of course, our support team will be there every step of the way to make sure these integrations truly are as seamless as we promise.

Cloud Computing, Real Support

We understand that different businesses have different needs. A large manufacturing corporation managing multiple software integrations cannot wait long for IT support when the system shows a fault. The owner of a small hardware store, not much used to dealing with computers, may require help understanding the more advanced features of our system.

If he needs to talk for an hour, we can talk to him for an hour.

Our software may be in the cloud, but our support team are very much real, ready at any hour of the day to help our customers. People sometimes worry that the “internet doesn’t call you back”. Well, as our founder Peter Swaniker says: “We will call you back”.

This is the attitude required for the success of any SaaS business, and that is what makes the Software-as-a-Service model a success. So, if you choose to fly with us: fasten your seatbelts and prepare for take-off.

About the author

Karin Jakovljevic

Karin Jakovljevic is the head of marketing at Ximble, a powerful, cloud-based workforce management system, simplifying employee scheduling and time tracking for retailers, restaurants and small businesses.

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