“Software as a service” is a method that looks to transform the archaic nature of software licensing, firmly planting the customer back in the driver’s seat.
SaaS, or “Software as a service” is a method of software delivery and licensing where software is accessed online on a subscription basis, rather than purchased and installed on individual computers. It may seem, on the surface, that this would be a quick and easy way to update your software, but often, the user quickly plunges into a customer service void once installation has taken place. A disconnect becomes quickly apparent between the service on offer, and the support and customer services the subscriber is able to access.
And unfortunately, it doesn’t take a genius to realise that simply dropping customers at the checkout will have an inevitable impact on their overall experience of a service. It’s an industry-wide problem in the SaaS space. Subscriptions are sold, then subscribers, users—customers!—are left to navigate the technology themselves.
Strong leadership among SaaS providers in the fintech space can be attributed to four key drivers, central to which is a company’s engagement with its most important component—the customer.
Making customer experience your non-negotiable
Lindsey Hanson, Head of Customer Success at Practifi, an Australian cloud-based business management platform now with offices in the US, believes that good customer service will always be what sets a service provider ahead of the industry crowd.
“It’s the core value that defines the strategy of the product, who we partner with, and the way that we proactively engage our customers,” she says. “We’re constantly thinking about how to make their experience better, anticipate changes, understand the industry more deeply, and how we continue to deliver value at a very high level.”
In contrast to many of the products in this space, Practifi puts their customers’ success at the core of what they do, and Lindsey is quick to point out a number of ways the company is achieving this.
“Customers at Practifi each have a dedicated Customer Success Manager to partner in their business, a dedicated Solution Engineer to provide strategy around technology and product best practices, and are backed by an incredible technology team.”
In doing this, users are fully supported in making the technology work for them and their businesses, setting them up for success.
Nourished relationships breed advocates
People—and their relationships—are integral to every commercial agreement. There’s much less chance of having a frustrating interaction with technology if you have a dedicated team of professionals working alongside you.
Lindsey continues, “Every level of the business should invested in the idea that in order for it to be successful, you should be seeking to build a base of advocates .
“Our customers are our best referrers, our best generators of product ideas, and our best promoters.
“Most of them have talked to current Practifi users before engaging us. But even when they haven’t, we pair them up with a customer of a similar size in a similar industry so they can hear directly from a current user around what to expect.”
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Your customers, according to Lindsey, are investing in your service in order to streamline and minimise the time and effort spent on “low-value” tasks and processes in their business, which detracts from the time they are able to commit to higher value engagement activities with their clients.
So a successful SaaS business should actually be able to “lead the way, and advise customers how they can achieve exactly what it is they want to achieve, and guide them through that process. It’s not just about technology or the product, it’s about working with the customer to achieve real business results.”
Dare to be different
SaaS within the fintech space is a competitive marketplace, so from Day 1, new service providers should be committed to developing approaches—for example, to exceptional customer service—which will set them apart from comparable or like-minded companies.
“When I was hired,” Lindsey explains, “I asked our founder Adrian Johnstone if he considered customer success a cost of doing business or a revenue generating operation.
“He said ‘Neither!’, which was the right answer, by the way.”
Customer success—the ongoing experience and not simply the capacity to provide technical support, which is a given—is something every company should take seriously.
“We see (it) as a differentiator, the right thing to do, an absolute necessity for the long term success of ourselves and our customers. We must take a customer-centric approach and exponentially add value. We provide customers a dedicated resource whose remit is to ensure they are delighted with not only their service, but also their overall experience.”
Loyalty is everything—make clients’ success as important as your own
Looking ahead to the future, Practifi is already imagining a larger, evolving, global team to meet their increasing business demands.
“We have introduced a structure in our Customer Success Team which is working really well. We have industry experience and technology expertise working together to make sure our customers have the right mix of support and guidance.”
The entire management and leadership team are looking to continue to increase engagement and participation through industry roundtables with clients, targeted best practice training, and more of Practifi’s Customer Success Managers partnering with clients at their internal strategy days and sessions.
Continued success in the SaaS space can only be achieved by travelling the “long road” with subscribers, rather than simply billing them for access. In today’s global digital landscape, it’s the big difference, and companies wanting to excel in this space would do well to consider Practifi’s ongoing achievements in offering subscribers a unique vision in concert with an established formula.
Loyalty is everything, indeed, and success will come from being committed to developing authentic business partnerships, backed by a dedicated, passionate team of support staff focused wholly on customer success.
About Practifi: Practifi is the new benchmark for CRM-based systems in financial advice. As a cloud-based business management platform, it manages clients, partners, providers and centres-of-influence through a clean, intuitive interface. With offices in Sydney and Chicago and loyal clients across APAC, Europe and North America, Practifi is passionate about partnering with advisers, providing the tools required to lead the financial advice firm of the future.