According to a global research from the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), businesses increasingly value software as a service (SaaS) applications, but many enterprises are facing significant customer support challenges with their SaaS vendors, leading to low customer satisfaction and poor retention rates.
The “SaaS with a Face” report, which surveyed 248 global companies currently using SaaS-based e-mail management software on their usage and service satisfaction with these applications and providers revealed Mimecast to be the stand-out leader in SaaS e-mail management performance and customer satisfaction.
Mimecast customers surveyed in this research noted higher customer support approval, including 86% being able to connect with a live Mimecast customer service representative, compared to the 61% who say they could reach live support with other SaaS vendors. Additionally, respondents called out shorter wait times with Mimecast, with only 8% experiencing long waits.
The remainder of the “SaaS with a Face” results demonstrate a significant discrepancy between Mimecast customers and users of other SaaS-based e-mail management services in terms of the benefits realised and levels of satisfaction with customer support, with the latter representing a huge opportunity for vendors to address.
Of the non-Mimecast customers surveyed, more than half (57%) reported slow and unresponsive customer service, ultimately resulting in only 58% of these respondents remaining with their current SaaS provider. Comparatively, 85% of Mimecast customers confirmed they will remain with Mimecast’s SaaS e-mail management platform.
Finding the right customer service options, including dedicated support and training, are also major challenges. Among respondents, only 37% confirmed they have a dedicated customer service manager for their organisation, 27% cited difficulty with finding the right person to solve the problem at hand, just 25% say their SaaS provider offers dedicated online training, while 18% noted their SaaS provider missed service level agreements (SLAs) entirely.
“The results of this survey show that inadequate customer support has the ability to quickly negate all of the promise offered by SaaS-based applications,” says Bill Lundell, senior research analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group.
“Businesses are crystal clear on the benefits of SaaS, especially for business-critical applications like e-mail, but many providers appear to be providing inadequate levels of support.
“With more businesses potentially turning to SaaS applications and other hosted services in the coming years, providers will need to offer dedicated support and increased transparency around any product updates or issues in order to improve customer satisfaction.
“The statistically significant differences in terms of service and support experiences between Mimecast customers and the rest of the sample were quite noticeable. Mimecast is clearly delivering superior support based on the testimony of the majority of its customers, which simply cannot be said for the market at large.”
SaaS offerings are critical to success with more than half (51%) of enterprise organisations currently using SaaS-based applications and an additional 38% of respondents planning, or interested in SaaS-based solutions within the coming year.
The top three benefits respondents attribute to SaaS-based e-mail management applications include the reduction of IT infrastructure costs (55%), the elimination of IT environment complexity (52%), and improved compliance capabilities (46%).
Based on this report, some key customer service recommendations for SaaS vendors are as follows:
* Strong SLAs – more than half of respondents (57%) found service was slow and unresponsive or completely inaccessible due to outages. Comprehensive SLAs are critical to ensuring consistent performance of SaaS applications and core to achieving reliable business continuity within a SaaS model.
* Dedicated support – with only 37% of businesses surveyed confirming they have a dedicated support engineer to assist with implementation and 32% say they were able to speak with the same support individual when needed, there is an opportunity for SaaS providers to improve customer satisfaction and reduce wait times by offering devoted and available support resources.
* Consistent customer communication – with only 40% of respondents confirming they receive regular communication from their SaaS provider, SaaS providers must offer consistent customer communication including any information about product updates, changes of support personnel or the addition of new support services.
“Based on this research from ESG, it’s clear many SaaS providers are underestimating the power of the human element,” says Christelle Hicklin, customer experience manager, Mimecast South Africa.
“Without equally strong customer services available, SaaS providers miss the opportunity to offer ‘SaaS with a Face’ and will encounter significant customer retention challenges, severely impacting their bottom line.”Providing more personalised attention, such as comprehensive help features, offering dedicated support and consistently meeting service level agreements has helped us achieve a customer churn of less than 3%.”