The Cloud business model is probably the biggest breakthrough in computing since the invention of windows-based software.
By offering applications and functionality on a subscription basis, software companies are becoming more like services companies than product companies.
Salesforce.com may not have pioneered the software-as-a-service model, but they, more than any other company, popularized it and made the concept a part of everyday life among SMBs and in the corporate world.
Thousands of cloud companies have followed suit, offering anything from accounting applications to business analytics platforms.
The Cloud land grab
The Cloud application and computing movement is undergoing a fast-growth land grab. Start-ups in every possible vertical market imaginable, and now the largest and most important ISVs, are scrambling to become the dominate players in their niche on the cloud. The key to dominating their market and locking out the competition is a fast-growth strategy.
Additionally, because of the pay-as-you-go business model, cloud companies must make up in volume what their brethren ten or fifteen years ago charged in high enterprise software license fees and services.
Cloud application companies have subsequently focused on acquiring as many customers as quickly as possible.
But to become profitable, they need loyal customers
And this presents an interesting Catch-22.
The key to cloud profitability is to maximize the lifetime value of their customers. This requires customers to renew their contracts with them every year or every month, as they case may be.
On the cloud, the customer is king, and happy customers drive SaaS business model ROI.
To achieve the customer’s loyalty, Cloud companies must deliver an exceptional experience. On the other hand, in their bid to grow as quickly as they can, customer satisfaction and experience may suffer.
Hence the Catch-22.
Cloud companies need to create advocates and avoid detractors
But it’s not just customer renewals Cloud companies should be concerned with. In order to sustain the level of growth they need to dominate their niche, Cloud companies must enhance their in-house marketing and sales efforts with the efforts of a committed, passionate cadre of customer advocates.
These are customers who love the service so much they will proactively, and without prompting, spread the word via their social graph about their Cloud service provider.
Cloud-based companies must also avoid detractors, customers who will spread the word about bad customer experiences on their social graph.
So what’s the solution for all this?
A Customer Experience Delivery System
The key to keeping customers happy, ensuring renewals and developing customer advocates, while maintaining a fast rate of growth, is to implement a Customer Experience Delivery System.
A customer experience delivery system must begin by determining the ideal experience for your target customer from a customer care, customer support perspective. That IDE will then allow you to design the HOW that experience will be delivered to your clients. This includes looking at every touchpoint, designing the right services for customer success (onboarding, implementation, training, technical support, premium support, social engagement), and combining people, processes and technology to ensure your customers enjoy the best possible experience.
Call it customer success, customer support, customer care, this is taking care of your customer in the 21st century, and something the Cloud economy has brought to the forefront in a big way!