Software as a Service (SaaS) and Self-Service Design

    Software as a Service (SaaS) is becoming an increasingly popular service model, allowing users to access applications deployed in the cloud through web browsers or application clients. However, many SaaS application designs are complex and require onboarding conducted by salespeople to understand their offerings and how they can help users. What if there was another solution that allows SaaS user onboarding without any human interaction? That's where self-service design comes in.

    What is Software as a Service (SaaS)?

    In contrast to traditional software sales, in the SaaS model, customers do not need to purchase a one-time license and install the software. Instead, they receive a tool, typically cloud-based, through a subscription model. By paying a subscription fee, they gain access to a web or mobile application and can fully utilize all the software's functionalities.

    The Problem with SaaS Applications and the Need for Self-Service Design

    Many applications in the market are not user-friendly, which often leads potential users to abandon the application shortly after starting a trial or during the research phase. The first UX issues usually arise when users are trying to find information about what the application offers, how to use it, and what capabilities it has. Consequently, they often need to consult with a salesperson, which customers in 2022 want to avoid at all costs.

    According to a study by Gartner, B2B customers spend only 17% of their buying time on potential conversations and meetings with salespeople. When comparing different vendors, the time spent with you as a vendor may be as low as 5% or 6% of the total time spent on making a purchase. Therefore, it is essential that your application is designed to minimize the necessary contact with your sales team.

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    Why Customers Prefer Not to Interact with Salespeople?

    When selecting software, B2B customers often have several, if not dozens, of applications that fulfill the same need in different ways. This requires them to schedule several hours of meetings with different salespeople who are doing exactly the same thing and then decide which software to choose. From the customer's perspective, this process is exhausting, time-consuming, and costly.

    Today, the majority of customers prefer to learn as much as possible about a product on their own before making a purchase. For them, it is faster, more convenient, and the starting point where you can improve the conversion of your SaaS application. DPrepare customers to use your application through video tutorials, interactive onboarding, pop-ups, instructions, documentation, or other methods that fit your user persona and make it user-friendly SaaS.

    How to Approach Product Design for Effective Self-Service

    The first crucial step in well-designed self-service is correctly identifying the buyer persona – in the case of B2B SaaS solutions, it will be the profiles of companies and the "buying committee" that use or may be interested in your solution.

    Another important element in self-service design is a well-prepared landing page – the first page your potential customers land on. A well-designed landing page should provide users with at least the following information regarding your digital product design:

    • What your product does.
    • The value proposition – how your product can help solve their problems.
    • Examples of your application's use cases.
    • Credibility through references or statistics based on analytics, FAQ, and more.
    • A call to action (CTA), such as a button encouraging customers to try your software.

    Content plays a significant role in self-service design in SaaS. Your landing page should be designed in a way that users can learn everything about your product without contacting your sales team. By automating the research process, you can reduce the costs of the sales department and allocate the saved resources to other areas, such as increasing marketing efforts or further developing your product.

    To ensure successful self-service design, users need to understand your application and know how to use it. Onboarding is a crucial step that introduces users to your SaaS application. There are many methods to educate users on how to use your product, and there is no "one size fits all" approach. The SaaS automated user onboarding method will vary for each customer, and you need to choose the right one for your specific user persona.

    The most popular methods include:

    Video Tutorials: One of the simpler ways for users to learn about using an application. However, it is essential to keep your video tutorial concise and not overly burdensome unless the complexity of your SaaS requires it.

    Pop-ups: These are small windows that provide useful information on how to use your tool and guide users through its features—for example, explaining the function of a specific button. A good example of this is the intro.js library.

    Documentation: Although it requires the most time from users, comprehensive documentation provides the most detailed way to learn about your application. It covers all the information regarding functionality, even the most obvious details. While it may be time-consuming, documentation allows users to search for specific information and understand how to use your application, without needing to watch videos to find a specific 20-second snippet of interest.

    Benefits of Self-Service Design for Business Efficiency

    Based on a study by the Harvard Business Review, 81% of customers prefer taking care of customer-related problems themselves instead of reaching out to a representative. However, about 40% of them eventually contact a representative due to failing to figure out the solution themselves, meaning the system often fails to do its job. However, the study eventually showed that setting up the right self-service design can benefit an organization by increasing efficiency. But the question is: how?

    24/7 Accessibility

    One of the biggest flexes of a self-service design is that it ensures services are available 24/7. This way, customers can access information, get queries answered, make payments, or perform transactions anytime and anywhere. Customers can also track their orders, account information, and other necessary information at their convenience hours without requiring help from a business representative.

    Reduces Wait Time

    In the traditional business service design, customer calls and queries require channeling to the designated representatives. This is a massive bottleneck against business efficiency and performance as this operation increases wait time during a rush or emergency situation. However, by implementing self-service autonomy, businesses can reduce customer wait time as they can access information and get automated responses to their queries.

    Reduces Business Operational Costs

    The more automated responses and tasks you add to your business, the fewer agents or representatives you need to provide customer services. This reduces business operational costs, which organizations or businesses can use to increase resource efficiency in other necessary aspects.

    Reduces Error

    Adopting a user-friendly self-service system automates most parts of the service and solution process. It is highly beneficial to reduce or eliminate human error. It enables better safety and security regarding customer data, resulting in building trust and reliability among costumes and businesses.

    Increases Sales

    Self-service business portals are known for offering a personalized experience for the customers. These portals suggest products based on the customer’s browsing and previous purchase history. Businesses can attract customers this way and also offer premium services to increase further sales.

    Increases Business Efficiency and Scalability

    Customer self-service expands a business both internally and externally. It helps run the business smoothly and efficiently, strengthens the brand’s reputation and value, and accommodates increasing customer demands.

    Improves Customer Experience and Satisfaction

    Automated service enhances a business’s overall performance and customer service. This is highly beneficial and effective when it comes to elevating customer satisfaction. By designing a flawless and automated self-service, businesses can provide personalized and safe services to their customers, which ultimately helps ensure customer satisfaction and retention.

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    By embracing self-service design, you can avoid the pitfalls of the traditional sales model and align with the buying trends of customers who prefer less interaction with sales teams and aim to handle more tasks independently.

    Key takeaways from a well-designed self-service approach include:

    • Allowing customers to learn about your product.
    • Enabling customers to subscribe and onboard without human interaction.
    • Guiding users through your application with a dedicated onboarding process.
    • Incorporating analytics to continually improve the user experience.

    Self-service design helps reduce costs while increasing customer conversion rates. You no longer need to spend large amounts on a sales department; instead, you can invest those resources in marketing or further product development.

    If you believe your existing application needs an improved SaaS customer experience or you are unsure how to plan it, we would be happy to discuss the possible options during a free consultation or guide you through the product design process with dedicated workshops led by our designers. At iMakeable, we understand how to provide the best possible self-service UX and can assist you in achieving your goals.

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