The Problems with SaaS
The Inherent Issues With SaaS and How Software Developers May Actually Make Things Worse for Themselves.
Software Folder | BUSINESS
…there’s nothing worse than buying software that doesn’t do what you actually want it to do, in the way that you need it to do what it does…
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Evaluating software and digital services under a free plan or trial before parting with your cash, seems almost a given nowadays, especially where it comes to buying online software and digital services (SaaS)…
However, not all free plans are equal. And software providers may be harming their user base by not allowing trial customers enough access to truly evaluate their software services.
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WHAT DOES SaaS STAND FOR?
SaaS simply stands for Software as a Service. This is typically a business that offers services over the internet. i.e applications that reside in the ‘cloud’ and not your computer. Although you can use apps from your computer to launch the service.
What is SaaS and the ‘try-before-you-buy’ model?
For the purpose of this post we’ll refer to the term SaaS for denoting any company that provides a cloud based service in the form of software. This is typically for a subscription to a free or paid plan or product over the Internet.
Alongside Software as a Service, you also have Platform as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service. Popular examples of leading SaaS providers include;
Are Freemium SaaS Plans Causing Users More Grief than Satisfaction?
Today, with there being so much competition, in an industry where so many software applications are designed and built to perform the same or similar task. How do you choose between one app and another?
And most of all, how does a software business survive amongst such an ‘encroaching’ range of competitors, all offering very similar software products?
I know, let them try before they buy! Typically, and it seems to make sense, that when buying software, the software company will often facilitate its new customers with at least some free incentive, in order to get for them to experience the software first-hand.
This is what’s known as a Freemium Business Model; the practice of providing users with a tiered service, starting from a free, to perhaps different levels of a paid premium plan or membership.
After all, there’s nothing worse than buying software that doesn’t do what you actually want it to do, in the way that you need it to do what it does.
Of course, this model will not be applicable for every SaaS provider. And therefore, besides just the competitive vulnerabilities that a business offering software as a service has to deal with, there is also the matter of managing customer confidence and allowing customers to try before buying and other incentives, seems a natural way to go. What do you think? (please leave a comment)
Not all Apps are the Same...
Now, what if, even with a free plan, your SaaS provider’s software is so perfect for the job, that you can perform almost everything you’d ever need from the software, remember, all whilst only using the Free or Lite plans or software versions?
Sounds a little unfair for the software provider – right?
But then, a customer can always argue; that they would not have tried the software if wasn’t available for free. Leaving the software provider, again, in a vulnerable state.
Sometimes just a little investment can give you exactly the software app you really need.
On the other hand, what if, even at a free plan, your SaaS provider’s software is fraught with errors and unreliable behaviour. But, efficiently, does everything you need? Yes, that does happen sometimes.
Well, as a user, you could remain using the service at a free level; if of course you are comfortable with any current issues, and that you are prepared to face any undesirable consequence that may occur. By all means continue until you genuinely need to upgrade.
Or, you could consider investing in the software service by upgrading in hope that your contribution will go towards future improvements.
Elementor, a visual WordPress page builder, is a very good example of a company that has allowed its community free access to as many tools and features necessary to fully evaluate the software they offer before upgrading to a Pro version.
The upgrade unleashes many new and useful features that help streamline the process of building custom page layouts and landing pages, with integrations, e-commerce tools and so on.
However, to a large extent, you can get by without upgrading, especially if your budget does not permit the spend.
Now, whilst this approach seems bound to bring about customer loyalty, you can be sure that there are also undesirable side-effects which the software as a service provider will need to bear. Which is probably why, Elementor has recently been reviewing their pricing structure and offer.
When does the Freemium model not work?
When support is poor or non-existent?
Have you noticed how difficult it can be to contact a real person for support with any issues you may be having with your internet software?
There is one online banking service that I won’t mention, however, can tell you that they has been really disappointing to a great number of customers. And its not until you face a problem yourself that realise just how poor the service really is.
Sometimes it takes someone to share and highlight an issue, where before other users may have passed an issue as normal.
As a user of a SaaS product, you’ll have specific expectations. If a product promises the potential of a number of benefits, you’d naturally expect that product to at least be able to demonstrate what it is capable of doing towards achieving those benefits.
However, far too many times SaaS providers see unhappy or unimpressed users who are deterred from upgrading or even continue with using their software. All for varying reasons, including and where applicable:
Third-party integration issues or lack of.
So often there are technical issues with connections between two third-parties breaking. This can end in catastrophic result that may even derail a whole marketing campaign.
Restricted features that are essential for validating trial phase…
Some companies however, offer a free premium trial upgrade.
Better alternatives available. Competition can be fierce…
Annoying and tricky up-sells. When a company appears more concerned about making sales, rather than answering customer needs
For the user it can be pretty frustrating paying for a software service that turns out to be a disappointment. Especially where issues cause a disruption, or proves to be unreliable whilst being used on a live project.
This can not only cause embarrassment to a business, but also affect sales or other conversions.
Does your software service work in the way you expect? Is it intuitive to use?
Software that works as the user expects
Besides an intuitive and well designed interface, the most important thing is that the intended users are able to readily interact and decipher for themselves, how to navigate through the different pages and functions.
Of course, it would be virtually impossible to get things right for every individual user. However, to a huge degree a good design will also allow users some customisation, it all really depends on what the software is built for and how it is intended to be used.
All customers want is a long-term and reliable SaaS integration or service, that will not break whilst in the middle of running their campaign business.
Most SaaS platforms offer some form of integration, this however, can leave you vulnerable as you will have to rely on a third-party service. This can be be somewhat unnerving for users, especially in cases where these third-party services may unexpectedly close down, change their policies, or simply have access restricted. From my experience, and it depends on what type of software, there are often issues that deter you from making the decision to upgrade.
Take a common case where Facebook, for example, introduces a new product or service already offered by a third-party, that causes another business or product to become redundant, especially as Facebook adopts a copy of the service or product for itself.
You see, developing and maintaining software does have its battles to endure, and making it successfully through the mainstream arena not only requires a quality product, but also something people find comfortable to use.
How would your ultimate SaaS platform work?
Also, as many SaaS platforms offer some form of integration, the developer often takes somewhat of a risk when relying on third-party services. Especially, in cases where these third-party services may close down, change their policies, or simply restrict access.