What is a Software with a Service (SwaS) Approach to Experience Management?

What is a Software with a Service (SwaS) Approach to Experience Management?

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What is a Software with a Service (SwaS) Approach to Experience Management?

Whether your experience management (XM) program has just recently launched, been live for decades, or is simply an idea at this point, it’s never the wrong time to evaluate how well your organization is listening to customers + employees and acting on those insights. Because if you’re not, there’s a big chance you’re falling short on expectations and customers are taking their business (+ loyalty) elsewhere.

As you continue to evolve your XM strategy, it’s important to understand the difference between XM providers and their levels of support. We live in a world where datapoints, while illuminating, are no longer enough. Customer behavior, needs, and expectations are more multifaceted than ever, and, as a result, are harder to decipher.


Brands that partner with a software with a service (SwaS) customer experience (CX) provider are more successful at taking informed actions that lead to tangible business outcomes. Here we will further define SwaS in the CX industry, demonstrate its differences from a SaaS model, and evaluate its key benefits by industry.

What is SwaS?

In customer experience management, the SwaS model layers ongoing, hands-on support with powerful platform technology. The end-to-end solution support, prescriptive success management, and consultative insights make it faster and easier for brands to see value. And when it comes to value, no other XM vendor combines tech + services to achieve meaningful business outcomes like SMG. As the industry’s only SwaS provider, SMG provides analysis support, insight delivery, and strategic partnership—going far beyond the software as a service (SaaS) model offered by other vendors—to help brands turn mountains of data into actionable insights that change business outcomes.

How is SwaS different from SaaS?

Most SaaS (software as a service) companies offer a low-level of support following the purchase of their product. Usually, this comes in the form of an IT helpdesk or a customer support line. In some cases, companies will offer a higher-level partnership or help with data insights, but there are usually limited resources available—or the extra help comes at a premium cost. SwaS companies, on the other hand, arrange their business model to offer human-to-human support with a team of hands-on industry experts. These professionals dedicate their careers to interpreting customer behavior and, as a result, are able to deliver insights and best practices not easily obtained from a SaaS provider.

What are the key benefits of SwaS?

industry experts

Industry experts: Access to industry experts means less work for you. A SwaS provider offloads the administrative burden, ensuring brands’ programs remain healthy and valuable without adding day-to-day responsibilities. Brands also benefit from a partnership that provides in-depth analysis and insights specific to the brand’s business goals—prescribing targeted action plans that lead to tangible business outcomes.

always-on feedback and support

Always-on, continuous access: With both SwaS and SaaS providers, you’ll likely get critical upfront support. The difference, however, comes later when your program is live and out in the world. 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.

With a SwaS partner, you’re also more likely to get an engagement model customized to your specific needs—providing you with the benefits of regular guidance on key themes like tech enhancements, field communication support, program updates, and more. This hands-on approach allows for strategic program guidance long after implementation. By constantly evaluating your program alongside your key stakeholders, your XM program will continue to evolve.

return on investment

Program ROI: 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, it’s not likely to gain the type of organizational buy-in you’ll need for long-term success.

A SwaS provider will work with you to answer your research questions and link insights to financial results—helping you drive business outcomes and future-proof your business. This includes helping brands deliver ROI by:

  • Generating new revenue
  • Growing existing revenue
  • Reducing churn + detractors
  • Driving operational efficiencies

Is SwaS the right next step for your brand?

A good sign you’re ready to evolve into a more analytical XM approach is if you’ve reached a dead end in customer feedback. If you’re seeing the same issues come up again and again with your customer surveys and other feedback tools, it’s a tell-tale sign you’re ready to move into a more advanced XM approach.

SMG is an XM leader, helping brands determine what matters and how to act on it. As the industry’s leading SwaS provider, we uniquely pair an enterprise platform with professional services—making it faster and easier to see value.

Is SwaS a good fit for all experience management (XM) programs?

The SwaS approach is beneficial for any brand committed to seeing tangible ROI from its XM program. Here are some industry-specific examples of what brands can expect from SwaS support:


No matter the restaurant—QSR, fast-casual, casual dining, or fine dining—each is the perfect candidate for a SwaS approach. With access to real-time feedback + behavioral insights from customers, restaurants can deliver exceptional experiences across on-premise and digital touchpoints, guide product innovation strategies, and inspire targeted actions.

For example: More customers are ordering takeout, which is often delivered through a third-party vendor. But in the volatile world of third-party delivery—where things often go wrong and restaurants are struggling to maintain control of the customer experience—how can brands protect their reputation + drive customer loyalty? To survive, restaurants must make partnership decisions that will help them adapt to changing market dynamics and tackle complex operational challenges like third-party delivery. Let’s look at how a SwaS partnership helps with those challenges:

Concern What to expect with SwaS support
Food delivery Understand customer priorities and decision-making factors to guide process improvement over elements you can control
Cost management Discover which products are replaceable to manage expenses and make smart, targeted substitutions
Digital investment Understand the full customer journey and where technology—like automation—is helping vs. hurting
Staffing Improve retention + recruiting by collecting employee feedback regularly and using those insights to implement impactful change
Supply chain complications Discover alternative products to guide replacements

Restaurant use cases and examples

After venturing into the breakfast daypart, Wendy’s turned to its CX program to identify improvement opportunities for its new menu items. Through SMG’s QSR benchmarking and product-level analysis, the brand was able to understand its performance against competitors and drive improvements to breakfast offerings.

Wendy’s drives positive outcomes

+8% total sales

+ 4ppts Breakfast Overall Satisfaction

pizza piza logo

The Canadian pizza chain turned to its SMG team to uncover specific gaps in the digital customer experience and help prioritize its digital transformation strategy. The efforts paid off with a double-digit increase in digital sales and decline in dissatisfaction scores.

Pizza Pizza sees YOY growth

+12% YOY increase in digital sales

-2ppts decline in dissatisfaction with Ease of Placing Order Online

-5ppts decline in dissatisfaction with Ease of Paying Online


Consumers don’t shop like they used to—most customer interactions with your brand are now a hybrid retail experience. And if they don’t line up or provide the same level of service, your customers will notice. 

A SwaS approach to CX allows retail brands to navigate the many stops and starts of the customer journey across e-commerce and brick and mortar retailers to make more informed operational decisions on inventory levels, labor mix, merchandise selection, or why a customer chose not to make an intended purchase.

Here’s a deeper look at how a SwaS solution supports experience management across the entire retail customer journey:

Concern What to expect with SwaS support
Keeping pace with market trends Compete in a high-complexity, high-saturation, high-expectation market with industry benchmark insights
Digitalization Proactively identify opportunities for shopping modernization and know when/where investment in digital is needed most
Choppy customer journey Lead with true customer insights (not assumptions from mounds of datapoints) to meet customers where they are + build stronger experiences
Hybrid shopping Capture + analyze consumer feedback and behavioral data across all touchpoints to create a consistent cross-channel experience

Retail use cases and examples

With the help of CX insights from SMG, Party City was able to increase feedback response rates and identify areas to make specific improvements to the customer experience. This helped them narrow in on specific touchpoints that needed attention and avoid spending money on areas that weren’t in need of improvement.

Party City improves feedback collection + KPIs

Feedback collection YOY

In-store: 2.1x more responses

Off-premise: 4x more responses

Overall Satisfaction

+8ppts in Q4 2020

SMG helped Signet Jewelers seek more enriching feedback that allowed them to gain insights their competitors weren’t privy to. Even with a 235% increase in customer interactions, SMG’s streamlined solutions helped Signet Jewelers close more customer feedback loops than ever through improved resolution.

Signet Jewelers strengthens customer relationships

+97% response rate from contact centre

+85ppts higher response rate than competitors

+44% uplift in click-to-call + website traffic

Consumer services

Consumer services is an exciting but vast segment that includes gyms, wellness services (e.g., spas, hair salons), auto service centers, and more. With so many moving parts and variances, the XM strategies involved with this industry must be as unique and complex as the problems they are driving to solve.

With a SwaS partner, consumer services brands can leverage real-time relationship management data to explore important customer interactions across channels—helping to enhance lifetime value of customers and members, shorten return cycles, and reduce churn by combining powerful, in-platform analytics + hands-on professional services.

Here are some of the top CX challenges consumers services brands face and ways a SwaS approach can solve these issues:

Concern What to expect with SwaS support
Establishing loyalty Discover what truly matters to customers + actionable insights to help meet their expectations
Service standards Leverage real-time, role-based reporting to highlight critical KPIs to field teams
Transition to membership model Guidance on implementing a loyalty rewards program + best practices for incorporating it into an overall CX strategy
Labor shortages Drive engagement + reduce turnover at every stage of the employee life cycle by combining holistic feedback, robust reporting, and industry-leading professional services

Consumer services use case

valvoline logo

Valvoline offers its customers quick and easy access to oil changes, a task every driver must undergo several times a year. As an essential service, customer pain points at Valvoline can look a bit different from other business models. Valvoline worked with SMG to better understand how to blend unsolicited and solicited feedback and strengthen its company-wide approach to customer engagement.

hand and stone spa

Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa: As an industry trend setter on health + safety measures, Hand & Stone remains ahead of the curve when it comes to making the spa experience more comfortable for both clients and service providers. Following the launch of its Attention Button, the brand worked with SMG to drive awareness around the new safety feature—resulting in higher customer satisfaction + proving ROI.

Start maximizing your CX efforts with a SwaS partner

With a variety of XM providers for brands to choose from, SMG’s SwaS model sets us apart in providing you with the dedicated support and industry knowledge to start delivering results, faster. Tailored to how quickly and aggressively clients want to move, our tiered services structure gets you going at the pace you need to get an XM program off the ground, establish and act on insights, or reach for the next level of customer satisfaction.

To learn more about SMG’s SwaS solution and how it might be the right-sized fit for helping you accelerate CX program value, please reach out.