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Why SaaS No Longer Stands For ‘Software-As-A-Service’ at Learning Pool (formerly HT2 Labs)

Software has changed. It used to be that you took out a big multi-year contract, paid enterprise license fees and hired specialist workers to maintain and support that software.

Now, Software as a Service (SaaS) has come to dominate the B2B enterprise landscape, replacing long deployments and capital spends with flexible deals and recurring, pay for what you use, pricing models.

This, as far a vendor of B2B software is concerned, is a thoroughly positive sea change!

One look at the exponential growth charts associated with SaaS businesses is enough to make any C-level software executive jump to the model. If you can get customers, keep them, and add some more, revenue leaps off the scale. Take a look at the money Slack raised on exactly this potential.

And most SaaS businesses, the cost of customer acquisition aside, have very low incremental overheads for adding another user. Out of that $1 extra you pay per month, chances are 95% is going to be margin. Maybe more.

The sheer attractiveness of the model has meant that many SaaS providers have slipped up in their interpretation of the phrase ‘SaaS’. They aren’t so much Software as a Service, as Software as a Subscription.  They want all the benefits of monthly fee, but none of the drawbacks of actually providing service as an additional element to the software.

The only ‘service’ element tends to be the ability to hit you with a bill each month.

As a SaaS provider, we’re trying to make sure we don’t fall into this trap. We don’t want to be like other SaaS companies. In fact we’d like to move the acronym on again to really focus on what really matters; success.

The software is somewhat coincidental, really, what we should be delivering is Success as a Service.  That’s why we’ve started building out our Customer Success team, starting with our very own Stream LXP (formerly Curatr) guru, Craig Taylor.

Success As A Service from Learning Pool (formerly HT2 Labs)

Sound like another buzzword job title? You’re too cynical! Read on to find out more about Craig’s role as our new Customer Success Manager…

What is a Customer Success Manager?

In a nutshell, the CSM’s role is to do everything they can to help our clients and partners achieve the goals they had in mind when they first established a relationship with us and our products – or indeed any subsequent goals….

It’s a pretty broad scope, and it’s very rare for any two days to be alike.  Some of the activities Craig has been been involved in so far include:

  • Talking with clients about how they might modify their Discussion Point Questions in Stream LXP (formerly Curatr) to help participants transfer the key points back into their own workplace
  • Setting up and taking part in ‘lessons learned’ meetings following a client’s first Stream LXP (formerly Curatr) course, to help them identify how they could enhance their programme in the future
  • Taking part in clients’ internal ‘Stream LXP (formerly Curatr) User Group’ calls along with their admins and designers to share some of our latest product updates as well as see how they’re using Stream LXP (formerly Curatr)
  • Hosting Google Hangouts for our Partner Network to share some of our OLX research, enabling them to better advise and support their own clients
  • Discussing with clients how a change in their business model/facilitation approach would likely enhance the participation and engagement levels amongst their users
  • Explaining how we could support clients’ in proving the business impact of their Stream LXP (formerly Curatr) efforts via text analysis of the course comments to explore cognitive presence
  • Initiating a Brinkerhoff Success Case Method study to identify the workplace impact of our free OLXs amongst the participants
  • Introducing clients and partners to the concept of xAPI and Learning Analytics so that they can make more informed decisions
  • Writing articles for our Help Centre based on my interactions and questions raised by clients
  • Supporting experienced Stream LXP (formerly Curatr) users with further developing their ‘in house’ capability amongst their colleagues

Why Customer Success, not Customer Service?

In his own words, Craig sees the difference as follows:

Customer ‘Service’ is reactive and is probably responding to the day-to-day issues that may crop up. They live in ‘today’.

Customer ‘Success’ is more proactive and is a continual dialogue with the client to identify opportunities to help them better use the tools they have invested in. They live in ‘tomorrow’.

Let’s be realistic about this though, there’s an absolute need for both. There’s no point in sitting alongside our clients helping them map out how our platforms can help them meet their business goals if nobody is looking at any day-to-day problems that might crop up. ‘Cos they won’t be sticking around long enough to do that!

The flip side of the coin is that if our only contact with clients is during the sales process and responding to any subsequent queries they may have, that’s unlikely to position us in their minds as a strategic partner.

What’s The Purpose of the Role?

The job title has ‘Customer Success’ in it, so it’s pretty clear that that’s what it’s all about – but ‘success’ can be a tricky thing to tie down.

In order to prove whether the use of our product(s) has had the desired impact within our clients’ organisations, it is important to identify with them early as possible what are their ‘success measures’?

Again, over to Craig:

Not everyone will be used to the term ‘success measures’, so I often use the following questions to get things moving along:

  • What was it about Product X that interested you?
  • What business KPIs is this project looking to impact?
  • Have you been given a figure or target that this project is looking to influence?
  • How will you know if this project is having the impact within the business that you want it to?

Sometimes clients will have this information immediately to hand, whereas others may need to go away and find it. Either way, once we have this insight, we can go about making implementations that stick.

Success as Standard

Since rolling out our new Customer Success initiative at the back end of 2016, we’ve had numerous clients reach out to tell us just how useful the extra support has been, and what a huge difference the additional insight from our team has been in making their learning initiatives a success.

In fact, we’d had such great feedback that we’re looking to expand our Success Team to enable us to provide even greater support to organisations utilising our Next Generation Learning Solutions.

So, whether you’re currently not feeling the love from your current suppliers, or you like the sound of joining a team that delivers success as a standard, get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!

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