Customer Success, Product Management, UX

SaaS Customers Aren’t Lazy – They’re Busy ft. @LincolnMurphy

saas-customers-arent-lazy

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

An astute customer success agent recently asked me why I wanted them to make good on their 30-day money back guarantee. The answer I gave included the words: “I’ve come to peace with the fact that I’m lazy.” As in, I can’t be bothered to run through ten tutorials to get your product up and working. I was making a joke out of it, but the fact is, I told a boldfaced lie. I’m not lazy. I’m busy. And devoting 10 to 20 hours to learn how to do this thing that another software can deliver on a silver platter doesn’t make sense in the context of my life.

Your prospects and customers aren’t lazy.

They’re busy.

When you let that paradigm shift shine down through the ranks of everyone in your company, you will see lasting, positive results in terms of retention and lifetime value.

So let’s dig into this idea a little deeper, because paradigm shifts don’t happen in a paragraph.

“Often when we say customers are lazy, we’re really saying ‘our product is hard to use but that’s the customer’s fault,’ or something similar.”

—   Lincoln Murphy

If the feedback you get from your customer success agents, sales reps, and customer service department includes the word “lazy” – treat it as a red flag. Find out exactly where customers “get lazy,” because that’s likely where your user experience (UX) is failing. How kind of those busy customers to let you know!

Sounds fairly straightforward, right? But this runs counter to most of the advice for SaaS startups on the web. Typically, that advice sounds more like this:

“Most customers sign up, and then get too lazy to use your product or service. Offer them a 30-day money back guarantee if they give you another shot. Show them how to use your product the proper way.”

 —   Rishi Shah, Digioh

Whoa there! You just let your product development team off the hook when, very possibly, they should be looking at your onboarding process and UX more closely for ways to make the product more intuitive. Or, perhaps, you could offer a live chat feature that pops up for new customers, right at the point where you’ve noticed they tend to get confused (because you track these things, right?).

Where and when do new customers typically fall off? For most SaaS companies, churn happens after just one or two uses, which means the customer isn’t finding what they need, or they’re not finding what they need fast enough.

I don’t know about you, but my life is too short, and I am doing too much, to take hours out of my week to learn to use a new product.

Some might say this is because I’m a Millennial. As a member of the largest generation, the generation that is swiftly taking over the workforce and is increasingly responsible for the tides of the global economy (for better or worse), I have a “digital native’s” expectations for technology products. When I get frustrated with a product, I have the same reaction as this Millennial quoted in a recent Nielson Norman Group article:

“When one Millennial user was intimidated by the tech specs on a computer website, he said, ‘I want to go to the store or chat online. I want someone to explain this to me better.’”

The article continues with another salient point:

“We frequently see Millennial users getting stumped in usability testing when they encounter difficult user interfaces. Their interactions tend to be fast-paced. Because they spend less time on any given page, Millennials are more likely to make errors, and they read even less than the average user (which is already very little).”

Okay, okay, so we don’t read the instruction manual most of the time (do you? Does anyone?). Google and Apple’s slick interfaces spoiled us early-on, and studies have shown that Millennials expect that same level of simplicity from all interfaces – even the interfaces of programs that offer complex, high-powered features.

“When interfaces fail to live up to those unrealistic standards of simplicity, Millennials rarely blame themselves – unlike older users. Millennials are quick to criticize the interface, its organization, or its designers.”

When your product has so much to offer, it can be a tough pill to swallow when a customer won’t spend the time to learn how to use it. And maybe your target customer is a software engineer who will read the manual and revel in your tutorials. But, for most SaaS businesses, your users are busy – which makes your challenge this: What steps can you take to make using your product faster and easier so they can achieve the end results they want? Start with quick wins.


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

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