SwaS or SaaS? Make the right choice for your experience management program

SwaS or SaaS? Make the right choice for your experience management program

All Industries

SwaS or SaaS? Make the right choice for your experience management program

There’s never a bad time to gauge how well your organization listens to customers and employees. And if you’re not listening and acting on the insights you collect, there’s a BIG chance you’re falling short of expectations. Don’t make your customers take their business—and loyalty—elsewhere.

Whether your Experience Management (XM) program is new or established, evolving your knowledge of how to collect and leverage feedback is key. The end goal is for your company to be more customer-centric, and having the right strategy can help achieve that. As you think about how to maintain an effective program, it’s important to consider XM providers in the context of the support they provide: Software with a Service (SwaS) vs. Software as a Service (SaaS).

What is Software as a Service (SaaS)?

A SaaS business model offers some support and training, but its primary focus is delivering software. The “…as a service” model is very popular both in business software (Office365) and in entertainment (Netflix), so you’ve probably experienced it before. SaaS applications are built to be self-service, plug-and-play solutions. Users are primarily responsible for leveraging the software, making it popular with DIY professionals.

What is Software with a Service (SwaS)?

SwaS is a business model that combines customized software solutions with personalized services (e.g., consulting, training, or ongoing support). You get the tech solution you need alongside a team of experts who guide you through the lifecycle of your project or program.

But SwaS is more than just support. It’s strategic guidance—it helps you use your technology and act on the insights you get from it. Many CX vendors started as tech-first SaaS companies, adding service along the way, but SMG started with a service-forward SwaS approach. It’s in our DNA.

Let’s explore how this difference impacts users in four key areas of their partnership: implementation, ongoing support, insights development, and program evolution.

1. Levels of Customer Support

Launching an XM program may not be rocket science—but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Smooth implementation is critical to ensure initial adoption and long-term success. With both SwaS and SaaS providers, you’ll likely get that critical upfront support. The difference comes later when your program is live.

SaaS vendors typically switch off most of their professional services post-implementation, leaving you to fend for yourself.

On the flip side, SwaS providers offer support throughout your entire program lifecycle. Their expert experience helps strategically guide your program to evolve with your business needs.
A SwaS partner offers customized engagement models tailored to your business, offering ongoing advice on technology improvements, field communication, and program updates while continuously evaluating and adapting your program in collaboration with key stakeholders.

2. SwaS simplifies processes by serving as an extension of your team.

Customer experience management tools are a powerful technology. Do you have what you need to activate insights across your enterprise? Gathering user or customer experience feedback is one thing, but analyzing and converting these metrics into actionable steps is another.

Many vendors offering SaaS dedicate minimal resources to analysis support, insight delivery, and strategic partnership.

Organizations that choose to partner with a software with a service (SwaS) provider get access to a hands-on professional support team with powerful technology. From onboarding to developing program best practices, SwaS providers help optimize and identify scalable growth opportunities.

3. Actionable Insights

The more lightbulb moments you have, the better equipped you’ll be to illuminate new paths to insight and inspire smart changes across your enterprise.

In The Forrester Wave™: Customer Feedback Management Platforms, Q1 2023, SMG received the highest possible scores in the Managed + Professional Services, Product Vision, and Innovation Roadmap criteria and was recognized as a Strong Performer among the top platforms. The Forrester report notes:

“SMG continues to be a strong choice for B2C organizations and is also worth considering for organizations that want a strong services partner that can deliver insights.”

CX pros must look at the variety of services offered, vet the vendor’s expertise in providing the specific services—like ongoing system configuration, program design, insights deep dives, key driver analysis, or goal setting—and evaluate the team the vendor is supplying to deliver the services before making a decision.

Drive Insights and Change

By combining tech with services, SwaS providers can help brands get to these “Aha!” moments faster. With extra support and guidance, organizations are able to turn mountains of data into true insights that change business outcomes.

Ask yourself, “Am I meeting customer expectations? What am I doing to bring in new customers? How can I leverage the data I have to improve user experience online and in stores?”

4. Future-Proofing

Implementing an experience management program is only the first step. You need to be able to demonstrate the impact your program has on the bottom line. Because if you’re not delivering ROI, you’re not likely to gain the type of organizational buy-in needed for long-term success.

SwaS providers work with you to answer research questions and link insights to financial results. A good XM partner strives to help drive outcomes and future-proof your business.

SMG helps brands deliver ROI by focusing on these 4 things:

  1. Growing existing revenue
  2. Reducing churn + detractors
  3. Driving operational efficiencies
  4. Generating new revenue

The challenge

We helped Dairy Queen decrease at-risk revenue by empowering front-line staff to help with customer issues.

The result

6-ppt improvement in problem resolution

The challenge

The client, Chick-fil-A, wanted to evaluate the worth of investing in a new digital menu board using customer experience data.

The result

$30M in cost savings

  • Additionally, we helped Dairy Queen decrease at-risk revenue by empowering front-line staff to help with customer issues, leading to a 6-ppt improvement in problem resolution.
  • Chick-fil-A saved $30M by using customer experience data to evaluate the worth of investing in a new digital menu board.
  • DICK’S Sporting goods wanted to evaluate which elements of the customer experience have the biggest impact on sales. The SMG team analyzed the brand’s post-shipment data to reveal an issue with delivery timeliness. The retailer tweaked its estimated delivery window – resulting in a 6% increase in online sales.
  • Giant Eagle drove new revenue by increasing curbside traffic and overall satisfaction through improvements to order accuracy + quality substitutions.

In Summary

Choosing the right software can help your business better listen to what your customers and employees are saying, but finding the right partner can make a world of difference. While some software gives you the tools and leaves you on your own, others come with a team of experts to guide you all the way. After all, the goal is not just to hear what people are saying but to really understand it and use it to make your business better and more profitable.

So ask yourself: Am I just collecting feedback, or am I using it to make smart changes that help my business grow?