The HotLine Magazine Archives
For The Profession of Cloud/SaaS Product Support

Apart from The HotLine Magazine, Mikael Blaisdell writes white papers and is a frequent speaker at professional conferences and other venues.  Here are some highlights from his speaking engagements.  A further list of recorded presentations and links is available for Associate and/or Research Members.  (Associate Membership is free upon approval.  To apply, click here.)

SaaS, Cloud Computing and The Future of IT Support

Annual Conference, The Help Desk Institute:  Software as a service (SaaS), or cloud computing, is predicted to become the industry standard in the coming years, as more and more software companies offer cloud-based subscription software products. Is this a dark cloud for customer support professionals? Does this dark cloud have a silver lining? In this session, Mikael Blaisdell discussed the key factors that have brought support professionals and organizations to a fork in the road and identified the challenges and opportunities SaaS presents for customer support.

The content of this presentation was also offered as a white paper, and is available here for Associate and Research Members.

The Reality of SaaS/Cloud Customer Retention.

In many SaaS/Cloud companies, it’s often the customer that sets the level of the relationship in the beginning — and it just stays there.  The unfortunate result is churn, and cost to replace lost customers.  What’s worse, by not actively developing existing relationships, a lot of money is left lying on the table.  Closing a subscription sale is no longer enough to win in the accelerating SaaS/Cloud era; it’s only the beginning of the real effort.  Passing short-term responsibility for the customer relationship from one department to the next within the company is a recipe for failure.  It’s what you don’t know about your customer relationships that can cause you to lose them — and the game as well.

The Future of Customer Support

[Keynote address; Boussias Conferences – Athens, Greece ]  The pressure of the current hard economic conditions brings with it an advantage, the encouragement for business leaders to re-think old strategies that no longer work in these times.  Traditionally, the role of Customer Support is essentially about Break/Fix.  When something breaks, the Service representative reacts to fix the problem.  The result is that Service has always been perceived as an unfortunately necessary cost, to be avoided wherever possible.  It’s time for a change, for a new vision, and the new profession of Customer Success to bring value to both Company and Customer.

No Churn:  Sustaining Profitable SaaS Customer Relationships

[Presentation – SIIA On Demand;]  All too frequently, Software-as-a-Service companies focus all of their efforts on generating new software license business rather than on retaining the customer relationships already won.  The unfortunate result is unnecessary churn and reduced profitability.  Going beyond software subscription licensing to take advantage of the additional revenue conduits of the SaaS model can increase both profits and customer retention if done effectively.  Learn from the results of The SaaS & Support Project research what companies like yours are actually doing to tap the additional revenue sources, and what kinds of organizational and technological resources are required.  This fast-paced presentation will identify actionable opportunities and broaden your thinking about going beyond basic revenue generation to build a river of profitability.

”Creating & Sustaining Profitable SaaS Customer Relationships“

The SaaS & Support Project: A Sneak Peek

Long term customer relationships are profitable customer relationships. However, all too frequently Software-as-a-Service companies focus all of their efforts on generating new business rather than on customer retention.  Mikael Blaisdell, a SaaS industry customer retention expert, is conducting research with dozens of on-demand company senior executives to develop a set of best practices for effectively managing profitable customer relationships in the on-demand ecosystem. Mikael will join us to share early results from this important, first of it’s kind report including:  How taking advantage of revenue opportunities beyond software licensing fees can actually help you retain your customers — Best practices of continuing customer relationship management in the SaaS community — Organizational and technological resources required for ultimate SaaS customer support.

”It’s the Service, Not the Software“

The essence of a SaaS product is not the technology itself, but in how that functionality is actually used.  What you’re really buying is a relationship over time that will enable your company to consistently increase productivity and profitability.  To build a foundation for success, begin by choosing a partner instead of looking for a vendor.

Leveraging the Channel“

Channels have long helped software firms reach and support large markets. But the traditional strategy of distributors, resellers, OEMs and VARs is in flux. There’s a dizzying number of potential partners, and myriad ways to structure a channel. Add to this the emergence of digital distribution and the web’s ability to go direct to consumers, and we have a channel model that’s undergoing significant changes. This session looks at the possibilities and pitfalls of channels, bringing together several viewpoints–from channel-only to direct-to-consumer–to see how channels will evolve in coming years.

”It’s The Service – Not The Software“

The SaaS Tsunami and the general economic downturn have come together to form a perfect storm, bringing the necessity for fundamental change to software vendors and the rules for success.  It isn’t over yet.  Now is the time to look beyond survival to build profitability, to realize that the true product is the relationship.

“Customer Retention”

The online and on demand world present the Application vendor with many new challenges. The income-stream subscription model of the ecosystem requires that the customer retention rate be considered as a vital metric for the business. Where traditional software manufacturers with their front-loaded bulk profits may accept an expected 10% or more yearly turnover in the customer base, the loss of a departing customer to a SaaS company has immediate effects on operating profitability.

Where in the overall corporate process does customer retention begin?  What are the signs that indicate a customer relationship may be at-risk? Are your company’s organizational structure and performance measurement metrics aligned with a strategy for customer retention?

“Monetizing Beyond The Subscription Model”

As a SaaS vendor, your company is about technology enabled services. The monthly subscription fees customers pay for the use of your application is the primary source of revenues, but are you leaving strategically significant money lying on the table? You’ve already invested the cost of acquiring the customer; what else could you provide to them on a profitable basis to substantially enhance the return on that investment?  What use are SaaS companies making of aggregated/metadata to offer additional value to their customers?  What is the potential profitability level of extended consulting services?

“10 Key Things to Look For In Customer Support From SaaS Vendors”

It’s no secret that customer support has traditionally been an afterthought, a begrudged cost center, for most traditional software manufacturers — and, unfortunately, remains so for some SaaS vendors as well.  To customers, however, support and the quality of delivery is a vital matter.  This session will help you tell the difference between vendors who truly understand the importance of Support, and those who don’t — before you buy.

“Customer Centricity”

Beyond a delivery platform, what are innovators and traditional software companies doing to maximize the new on-demand capacities of the web to put the customer at the heart of every business and technology decision?  What is the impact of real-time collaboration on the customer’s business and the customer’s customers?  How is the impact communicated back to the service and software provider?  Who is doing something about it?