I was just in a meeting with a company pitching a SaaS solution to a business issue we face every day. And over the course of the discussion, I began to find the whole idea of “software as a service” annoying. It’s pure blarney.
As digital start ups have been launched to disrupt so many business services categories, “SaaS” is usually “the name of the game.”
I don’t dispute the value of many of these tools and platforms as transformative – but I do object to the idea that software is or can be service. It isn’t and it can’t.
Part of the reason why the digital industry has gotten away with calling software a service is that the standards of service have fallen so dramatically over the past decade. So many of us approach business interactions with the expectation of minimal aid and support from our “partners.”
Unfortunately that spirit has infected many people whose jobs ostensibly are to provide service. But waiting 24 hours before returning a phone call or email requesting help is no more “service” than is a SaaS dashboard. Service-oriented people are still out there. In my role as head of account service for my company, I have to weed through a lot of candidates to find those few that both care and ensure that their actions consistently reflect a service orientation.
You can see service orientation in the way people speak. Carry themselves. Talk about others. When people are served well, they show their appreciation. The fruit of finding “service stars” is strong client loyalty. That’s money in the bank. But sometimes the best rewards for service are those little gestures of recognition that clients give us, like a thank you note or a phone call to our bosses pointing out our efforts.
Service is about more than being responsive. Software can respond to requests and queries IF they fit into the pre-defined set of actions anticipated by the designers. Service is about proactively adding value for a partner – about helping them see ideas, concepts, and trends. It’s about going the extra mile. It’s about really caring.
Great service stops commoditization. One of the reasons why business categories and opportunities run so hot then cold in digital is that when a niche is created, first mover SaaS solutions quickly find themselves inundated with SaaS competitors. It’s no wonder then that would-be clients choose the lowest priced provider. Service breaks that paradigm.
The best technology and tools are essential to really meeting the business challenges that face our partners. Software can provide tremendous value, and for some tasks good software and UI are all you need to reap the benefits of an opportunity. But many business challenges require a lot more than a good dashboard. When you claim software is a service you demean the very idea of service.
So quit it.