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Do Your SaaS Customers Really Hate You?

By Emily Smith on Wed, Feb 24, 2016

Support requests provide an interesting insight into the satisfaction levels of your customers. But how can you determine whether a complaint or support request is a red flag indicating a customer at high risk of churn, or nit-picking?

Customer complaints can mean lots of things, with three main types of complaint:

  1. Your product is useless or they feel like they’ve been mis-sold
  2. Your product addresses such a major challenge for the customer that even minor problems with them cause a big impact
  3. Your product is used so much by your customer that they notice all the “little things” that they want to work better

The Red-Flag Complaint

The good news is: only the first of those is a real concern. It suggests that your marketing activity is generating leads that are a poor fit, and that sales have been pulling out all the stops to close those deals at all costs, regardless of how appropriate your service is for your customer.

That first complaint suggests that you need to change something about your marketing/sales activity to get your product in front of prospects who are the right fit.

In this case it’s not them, it’s you. Sorry.

The Green-Light Complaints

But on the bright side, complaints #2 and #3 aren’t actually a bad thing. They suggest you’re on the right track.

In the case of complaint #2: your product is solving a major problem for your customer. Granted, your customer may be identifying some minor problems that you should address, but the fact remains that you’re providing real, significant value to your customer. Think of this as a “room for improvement” green light, rather than a red flag of doom.

And in the case of complaint #3: your customer is using your product A LOT. It’s clearly so heavily used or so awesome that the tiniest little annoyances become ongoing gripes that prompt a complaint.

Imagine you’re using a tool every day, several times a day, but it just doesn’t integrate with your emails quite the way you want it to. On day 1 that’ll be a bit annoying. After six months it’ll be a daily annoyance. But because the tool is so awesome and so heavily used you’re not going to stop using it. You’ll just complain, and work around it.

An Example of Green-Light Complaints

Not sure what a green-light complaint will look like? As an example, let me tell you about a tool we’ve recently started using here at Cobloom: ScrumDo, a project management tool.

ScrumDo is great at giving us visibility into team workloads, and outstanding deliverables for our growth partners. It’s a tool we all use a lot – every day. And because we use it so often, we’ve noticed a couple of things that are ongoing annoyances:

  • It doesn’t autocomplete usernames (and, naturally, all our usernames are in different formats, so if I want to tag a colleague I have to look up their username first).
  • It doesn’t integrate easily with our other favourite tools, like Evernote. You can make it work, but it requires more time and thought than, say, if we’d chosen to use a tool like Trello.

These aren’t huge deals, and they’re not going to stop us using ScrumDo because it fits in so well with how we work. But they’re annoying enough that our CEO, Will, mentioned them to the ScrumDo team. A complaint, but not a red flag suggesting we’re about to go elsewhere.

If you’re seeing an influx of complaints or support requests from your customers, take some time to work out what sort of complaint they are. If you’ve got a lot of red flags you might want to think about your marketing/sales approach, and if they’re more like green lights try and work out how this valuable customer feedback can help you improve your product.

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