7 Ways SaaS Businesses Can Improve Product User Experience

July 24, 2017
12:00 am

One of the biggest issues that SaaS businesses face today is keeping consumers engaged long-term. If you want to make sure you don’t lose your users up front, you need to optimize your SaaS user experience.A good UX is:

  1. Nothing more than the bare essentials. Most websites and apps considered to have good UX adopt a minimalist approach. If you don’t think something needs to be there, it probably doesn’t.
  2. Personalized in design and content. Any interface that demonstrates it knows its users well is guaranteed to win hearts.
  3. Memorable. The more memorable your UX, the more likely you are to keep your visitors. There are opportunities in UX design to express brand personality. The 404 page is one such example.

Here are 7 sure-fire ways to improve your product user experience.

1.  Make an impression with onboarding

“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou Onboarding is critical because it’s the stage when your consumers decide; will they stick with you, or will they look for an alternative solution. Don’t be fooled. A poor onboarding experience can kill your growth and your business.When used correctly, onboarding can help you:

  • Create a great first impression.
  • Set a positive tone for your relationship with clients.
  • Offset churn and beat the competition.

That’s why it’s crucial to ensure that your customer onboarding strategy isn’t overwhelming, confusing or intrusive, and instead seamlessly integrates into your clients’ work lives.Flow is key. Since it’s likely you’re using your SaaS platform and email to run the onboarding, it’s important to make that a winning combination. Here are a few great examples.

  • The benefit-focused flow: Describes the top 2-3 advantages of your service and how users can experience them with your tool.

Duolingo’s onboarding begins by introducing the service, so users get a taste before they’re led to a sign-up form that clearly states its USP.

duolingo onboarding
  • The action-focused flow: Talks about the basic 2-3 actions on the tool and explains how they can be utilized.
  • The account-focused flow: Explains step-by-step how users create and set up their accounts.

Some more complex tools require a combination of all three flows to create a sufficiently compelling onboarding experience.

2. Establish systems of support across platforms

“The entire customer or user experience-from raising awareness, to buying a product/ taking action, to getting customer support-is going digital.” – Colleen Jones

While UX (User Experience) and CX (Consumer Experience) may be separate concepts, it’s essential the two meet when clients require extra support interacting with your tool.For instance, Kevin Hale shared that his team spent 30% of their development time building support systems within their tool, Wufoo. Instead of forcing users to rely on documentation for support, Wufoo create an in-app notification of updates, helping users quickly overcome their knowledge gap each time they logged in.These days, several Saas tools have in-app videos explaining basic navigation and functions.For instance, multi-channel communication platform Acquire use video hints to brief about product onboarding which not only improves user experience but also helps in understanding how to use the tool.

product onboarding-Acquire

Many Saas businesses have also begun to adopt live chat support solutions, like Acquire, to ensure continuous and convenient support for users.Here’s a wonderfully concise video by graphic design tool Canva, explaining how users can make the most of what it has to offer

If you have apps to complement your desktop solutions, you should ideally have mobile-friendly support solutions built into them as well.When creating support systems, remember to:

  • Place them where users intuitively look within your tool, so they’re exactly where they would expect.
  • Mention an alternative support solution for users to access if your in-app systems fail.
  • Use support as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with clients.

Wufoo used emoticons on support forums, giving users a way to vent their frustration, and dramatically improving clients’ moods during tough situations.

3. Ensure what you deliver surpasses your claims  

If your marketing messaging doesn't do a good job of representing the product, you might lose consumer trust. The packaging shouldn't oversell your product. This kind of click-bait may work for content, but it’s a bad idea when it comes to product descriptions. Transparency helps you create a great customer experience.Car rental company Avis not only admitted they were second best but advertised the fact to win over customers.

deliver surpasses your claims

One way of embracing transparency is to take the focus away from the appearance and gimmickry of your UX, and instead place it on functionality. Sometimes, the best UX isn’t what looks best, it’s what:

  • Allows customers to accomplish their goals simply.
  • Saves users time and other valuable resources.
  • Enables users to perform tasks that are otherwise difficult.

Ensure that your packaging focuses on the functionality you provide. If you’re using images on your website, be careful about what you project. There’s no point in using fancy images that don’t accurately portray your tool or brand.Here’s how you can build trust with your UX design:

  • Use a clear, honest product description and simple, precise imagery.
  • Avoid hiding behind clever copy.
  • Disclose your security measures and how you intend to protect client data.

People are more concerned than ever about data trade and security breaches, and addressing these issues is important to create a safe and reliable SaaS user experience.

4. Use intuitive hints when releasing updates

There’s always a learning curve with any software, and the tool that makes this the easiest usually commands an advantage.When introducing updates, it’s essential to do it in a way that allows your users to adapt. You can do this by:

  • Creating an optimized feature update hierarchy, so the most intuitive features are released first. Plan your updates so they are discovered effortlessly while your tool is being used.

For instance, if you want your users to click on a certain button when logging in, you could make it vibrate, or draw attention to it with color or positioning.

  • Using hints within the tool to make discovery fun and rewarding, and releasing the support documents needed.

For instance, social media management tool DrumUp uses hints and dialogue boxes to explain what some features within the app are supposed to do.


5. Build an optimized email outreach schedule  

Each user contact matters. The goal of any SaaS tool is to become an integral part of users’ lives, but getting to that point is a challenge. Typically, users are most active at the start and lose interest over time. To keep them engaged, you need a properly designed email outreach schedule.

  • Carefully plan what you say in every email. Your content should be a mix of providing support and engaging users.
  • Subject lines are equally important. If they aren’t personalized, your open rate will suffer.
  • Think about the frequency of your email schedule. Many SaaS businesses send out daily emails immediately after signup, reducing the frequency only after the client has settled in.
  • Create room for feedback and replies. If your email is no-reply, you should include alternative contact details.
  • Make a good first impression. Your first email gives you a unique opportunity. Use it wisely. Some businesses directly request recipients to add them to contacts within this email.
  • Some SaaS businesses with mobile versions also use notifications to reach their clients.

6. Include ego boosts for savvy users in your tool

The idea is simple; users should find your tool easy and fun to use.When users accomplish something, greet them with a celebration. The goal is to create the same kind of satisfaction for important tasks/actions in your tool as you feel when friends like your posts on Facebook.

  • Aim at creating an experience that inspires, excites and emotionally rewards users.
  • Use the human desire for predictability to get users to love you. Make the actions within your tool clear, and reward users in a fun way when they get it right.

For example, MailChimp gives out high-fives to congratulate users on queuing their campaigns.


7. Take user feedback on board

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates

Of course you want to build the best product possible, but you’ll never do that on the first try. Developing a usable product is an ongoing process that will go through hundreds of iterations, requiring user feedback and effective internal communication.Saas companies should aim to foster a motivational atmosphere where people work together to create an amazing user experience. Take on board feedback from users, whether it’s positive or negative, so you can see what is going well and where to improve. Negative feedback is good. It will only serve to improve your product. Taking regular feedback is needed to create a better SaaS user experience.

The last word

Within your UI, respond to users’ interactions and reinforce what they have done well throughout their journeys. What you can’t do within your tool, supplement with external communication like email and app notifications. Ultimately, the goal is to create an enjoyable and effortless experience so your users are inspired to stay with you long-term.


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