Recently we encountered a few SaaS companies that exhibited what we consider to be bad SaaS behavior.
Doubts crept in. As painful as it is to admit, we're not always right. Perhaps we're just easily offended. Why would a SaaS operate in a manner so counter to driving growth?
So we consulted the interwebs and its collection of SaaS-related content for a second opinion. While not all of the over 5,000 SaaS "influencers" are like SaaS savant Lincoln Murphy or the wizards at Price Intelligently, not one recommends the practices we share with you here.
Just say no to bad SaaS behavior.
You Won't Believe What This SaaS Did #1
We clicked on a display ad advertising a popular SaaS-based marketing tool. The landing pages went right for the sale, revealing a "web discount price" that was based on an annual agreement.
We hesitated. The expense ($$$$, not $$$) wouldn't be insignificant, and ROI would be difficult to prove until we put the software through its paces. Even with a 30-day money back guarantee, a monthly plan would have been a much more reasonable option for our startup company.
Later, a team member revisited the product's pricing page directly from its homepage. Guess what? Both annual and monthly plans were offered.
As you might imagine, we chose another product. The vendor's credibility with us was shattered.
Of course, offering an annual plan has great benefits. (See this excellent article from Andrew Tate for more on that.) But blindly funneling prospects into plans that are the best for your company and not for your customers is the worst plan ever.
You Won't Believe What This SaaS Did #2
A SaaS had been providing us with a metrics service for a few months, and it was working just fine. Then one of our long-term service providers began to offer that same service as part of an existing package for no additional fee. Oh, happy day!
Canceling a SaaS service is never quite as easy as it should be. Do we need to form a coalition?
We searched the service's website. Eventually, we found the cancelation link; it was on our account statement page.
The messaging we found there (shown in the image with identifiers redacted) isn't what we'd expect from this company.
Few companies could pull this off. What matters most is consistency in voice.
Notice how the first few paragraphs on the statement are calm, customer centric, and lack irony? That's how every communication from this company has been up until this point: entirely helpful and pleasant.
Marking the beginning of the end of a customer's experience with something like this guilt-inducing zinger, "if you still really want to bum us out, click here [to cancel]" instantly weakens any goodwill you've built up with the customer.
There are ways to save a churning customer account. This kind of comment isn't one of them.
Saving a customer account requires an understanding of why the customer wants to cancel. We were canceling because another product we used had added functionality, making this service redundant.
We had been perfectly happy with the service. If asked, we would have happily provided a customer referral.
Even when a SaaS customer is canceling, it's worth taking the high road. You never know what's at stake.
The world -- and particularly the SaaS world -- is a lot smaller than we think.
You Won't Believe What This SaaS Did #3
Bad SaaS offender #3 took us by surprise.
An effective free trial needs to welcome a customer into the SaaS experience. That's why most SaaS companies spend a lot of time measuring and perfecting their onboarding processes.
The beginning of this free trial did not feel so welcoming. Here's what greeted us at the top of the screen right after we logged in for the first time.
While we appreciate being warned before we lose data, warning us before we have any data to lose is off-putting.
Nearly all SaaS trials have time limits, and keeping prospects aware of those time limits with a countdown timer or notice is something to test. You don't need to test being friendly, assuming that the sales is a done deal, and threatening customers with data loss. Please, just don't.
That concludes the bad SaaS behavior we have to share with you in this post. If you see any in you own travels through the Interwebs, please send it our way: we're planning a part II for this post.
Not sure how to handle a customer message or policy? That's easy: treat customers as you would treat yourself.