Software as a Service (SaaS) certainly appears to be the current wave in business applications. You can hardly read a technology article or ad today without seeing reference to the ‘cloud’. More and more companies are taking their applications to the Web in order to take advantage of the flexibility, mobility and collaboration that the Web can offer – not to mention the marketing hype. But what is often forgotten in this rush — despite the name — is the service component of this new delivery method.

VanillaSoft Cloud-Based CRM and Lead Management SoftwareManagers looking for sales CRM software, prospecting and lead management software are turning more and more to SaaS, but it is important to not look at the SaaS offerings in exactly the same way as traditional software. We are used to creating a list of functionality that is needed and then looking for a package that meets our check list. Service is often a second thought, or only considered when thinking about initial training requirements. With SaaS offerings the service component is extremely important and can make the difference between a successful long-term relationship and a disappointing short-term stint.

In a recent blog post Bob Thompson makes the point that although traditional software companies are rushing to get onto the cloud by buying SaaS companies, they may not have the service culture that is required to really deliver the goods. He is quite right to point out the potential problems, as there is normally a higher level of contact between SaaS providers and their customers and this becomes a major factor to success. Part of this may simply come from the fact that SaaS offering are usually improved and updated much more often than packaged software. I know that at VanillaSoft, the company was built upon customer interaction. It is not so much selling lead management software or telemarketing software; it is selling the complete customer experience at every stage. That is how companies can take advantage of the real power of Software as a Service. So, next time you are evaluating a new hosted CRM or sales force automation solution for your sales team, don’t forget that service is a crucial part of SaaS.