There is a common misconception that self-service is about providing customers with an online marketplace to buy new products. However, the prospect of buying any new IT without CSP guidance is still daunting for many organizations and enterprises.
Last year, several of our CSP clients moved from rival marketplace solutions to Cloudmore because their online stores weren’t bringing in enough new business.
Customers want to self-serve, but their main focus—certainly for the time being—is on the management of their existing services. Large enterprise clients especially are asking for better oversight of the distribution and use of software across their organization, alongside greater cost transparency and spending controls.
Let’s take a look at current customer self-service expectations in more detail.
The Simple Functions Customers Want to Do Without CSP Help
Some tasks are simpler and quicker for the customer to do themselves, especially if you’ve already identified and provisioned the services they need. From that point on, the customer only has to make adjustments—adding extra seats for new staff, or removing surplus seats when colleagues leave. Subscription renewals, suspensions, cancellations—or complementary products such as an additional laptop, antivirus software, or cloud storage can be offered in the form of easy self-service add-ons.
The Quest for Greater Cost Transparency
One of the main reasons customers outsource their IT is to reduce their operational costs. Because cost efficiency is so critical to customers, it’s important to be able to provide them with an accurate assessment of their cloud billing and consumption costs. A self-service portal, like Cloudmore, which is designed to streamline the management of cloud services (and prides itself in having one of the most robust Microsoft CSP integrations around), can give your customers simple cost breakdowns. Customers who want to drill down further can also get a granular view and reports on their usage and spending.
Spending Controls are Increasingly Important to Customers
Customers are keen to enjoy the benefits of the pay-as-you-go cloud billing model, but many soon discover that their costs can quickly spiral out of control. Being able to agree on a budget and put a cap on spending is a good way to appease customer fears. Cloudmore enables CSPs to set pre-agreed spending limits, and percentage spend notifications. The system also uses the data supplied by the customer’s current and historical spending to forecast future expenditure, which is viewable from the customer’s dashboard or can be downloaded as a report.
Customers Want a Clear View of How Software is Used to Avoid Waste
Each computer in every office worldwide has approximately US$259 of unwanted, unnecessary or unused applications on it—a level of waste that organizations and businesses tolerate less and less. A way for CSPs to differentiate their offer is to give customers a clear top-down view of how different software is used across their organization—by which departments, business units, and individuals. A platform like Cloudmore provides this level of visibility so that your customer’s CIO, for example, can adjust subscription quantities or re-assign subscriptions to other users, preventing waste.
Online Marketplaces are Part of an Outstanding Customer Experience
Online marketplaces are by no means superfluous. Having an online marketplace communicates that your company is abreast with the times and announces the extent of your IT expertise to everyone that visits your site. Cloudmore, for example, offers an online marketplace as an integral part of its end-to-end CSP automation solution.
But perhaps the main focus for now, if fuelling revenue is top of mind, should be on existing customers, and their experience of your brand. Their self-service journey can start with the management of existing services. A solution like Cloudmore then enables you to open your customers up to new options by providing them with an e-store of customized products and services. These solutions can be targeted by industry—healthcare, financial services, or education, for example— giving your business excellent upsell opportunities.
Ultimately, you want to offer your customers an outstanding experience, and a self-service portal is an excellent way to support that. A self-service portal can help you to simplify your customer’s buying experience and reduce the frictions that arise from poor cost visibility or slow provisioning and account management. It also saves you time, labor, and resources because customers are free to do more for themselves.