Back in the days before social media, brands were largely in control of how they were perceived by the masses. Sure, there was the occasional SNAFU that warranted news coverage, but even then, individual consumers had no platform on which to publish their opinions and engage with like-minded people, or even the brand itself.
That, of course, has all changed - especially when it comes to SaaS products. By definition, SaaS customers are online when using the product. There’s not much of a barrier to popping a new tab open to voice their feelings on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook - and when that happens, user experience (good or bad) was their motivation.
Don’t think it could happen to you? Just a few months ago, a customer complaint about Google Cloud went viral, causing Google to go into damage control mode. One person posting to Medium , followed by the support of many others who had similar experiences, was enough to get the full attention of one of the biggest companies on the planet.
These days, if your customers are unhappy, it only takes a spark to start a fire you might find difficult to put out.
But it’s not all bad news. Just as a peeved customer can drag you down, a happy one can lift you up - and which one a product encounters more often all comes down to user experience, or in this case, SaaS UX.
What does good SaaS UX looks like, and how can it benefit your brand? Let’s look at a few examples.
They’re easy to use
It’s all about speed and efficiency. All things being equal, the software that allows users to complete a task more quickly than its competitors will win the praise of its users.
Take Uber for example, their success boils down to the fact that they removed the friction from the experience of getting a cab and won legions of users in the process.
They offer outstanding service
The experience of using the software is only one aspect of SaaS UX. Customers won’t always have a completely friction-free experience with a product, and when they don’t, customer service can mitigate the impact by making things right in an expeditious manner.
Zappos, who built a household name by building the entire company around customer-centricity and generous policies like their 365-day return policy, is an excellent of this concept in action.
They build bridges
As much as customers love to be helped by customer service, they also want to feel ownership over the process of achieving a goal, and have more affinity for SaaS products that master the space between completing a task for them and leaving them to do it the hard way.
History is full of products that nailed this concept. Consider the difference between Windows 3.x and Windows 95. Little about the PC’s function or the way it works changed, but the GUI made accessing those capabilities so much easier, while still offering the user a high degree of control.
They build communities
Connecting with others that share their interests is exciting, and when that interest is a product, the brand and customers are engaged in a symbiotic relationship. Customers benefit from being part of a community of like-minded people, and brands benefit from increased chatter among consumers, and the brand affinity that being associated with these positive experiences engender.
Ironically, Apple built the foundation for world domination on being “different,” which had the effect of strengthening their customers’ bonds to each other, and more importantly, the Apple brand.
The medium is the message
In the world of SaaS apps, it takes more than a big marketing budget and persuasive copy to achieve sustainable success. You may get them in the door that way, but they will leave just as quickly as they came if their experience doesn't live up to your messaging.
While customers don’t have time to figure out your complicated UI or pass through 15 gates before they’re helped by a real person, they will find time to let others know if they feel that your your product was a waste of it. And (taking the concept full-circle) they’re likely to choose the channel that delivers the biggest impact for the least effort.
Be the equivalent of that channel in your space, and you'll be well positioned for success.