SaaS Licensing Featured Article
Boosting the Customer Experience in SaaS LicensingDecember 21, 2012
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor
Many organizations pride themselves on providing superior customer support. Website quality, how fast support techs pick up the phone, and the quality of documentation are all aspects frequently measured by an organization to access the effectiveness of their customer service efforts. Many organizations then go on to confuse good customer support with a good customer experience. An experience is about much more than interfacing with support. It is also about how flexibility products are priced and packaged, about the actual experience associated with using the product, and how empowered end-users feel to understand and control the ongoing relationship with their product and service providers. Customers are more demanding today. They have more options, they are becoming accustomed to a high standard of quality, and they are getting used to being able to make changes in policies they don’t like.
In both the consumer world and the world of enterprise software, the variety customers have to choose from often means that the available feature sets aren’t necessarily what customers are after anymore. While you might like to think your product or solution is unique, the truth is that the marketplace is crowded, and customers are choosing between providers based on essentially one thing: the quality of the overall customer experience.
This is particularly true in the software industry, where customers always seem to have a different opinion about licensing issues than those of solution providers.
Quite simply, the end customer is a much more powerful and influential entity than they used to be,” wrote SafeNet’s (News - Alert) Darim Rahmatallah in a recent blog post. SafeNet is a provider of award-winning software monetization solutions.
Software licensing, when used properly, can enhance the customer experience, not harm it, says Rahmatallah. It’s a complicated area in which to offer customer service: most products have lots of features (not all of which customers need), so many software developers allow their customers to license only the features they need. There are so many variables in software licensing that it can make customer relationships complex and customer service very challenging.
According to Rahmatallah, one of the best ways to keep customer satisfaction high is to pursue what’s called “usage transparency,” which is a way of helping customers better understand what they’re buying, what they’re using, and what they are paying for, which eliminates potential roadblocks in the customer relationship.
Offering robust self-service capabilities is another way to preserve the customer relationship in software licensing.
“The best way to empower your customers is to provide them with self service capabilities through licensing dashboards or end user portals,” writes Rahmatallah. “Self service capabilities should allow them to control when and where licenses are deployed, all on their own schedule.”
Essentially, the goal to improving customer service in software licensing is to put both more power and more understanding into customers’ hands. When customers feel like they are shelling out a lot of money for a software whose functionality they may not be fully using, they will inevitably start to feel like they are being hoodwinked into paying for more than they require. And if the roots of customer dissatisfaction begin over the licensing process, it will inevitably begin to spread through the rest of the customer relationship.
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Edited by Peter Bernstein
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