User research , User Experience , B2B , SaaS

Persona based design for B2B SaaS products

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What is a SaaS product?

A Software as a Service (SaaS) product refers to any software that delivers applications to consumers over the Internet. Unlike regular web or mobile applications that can be downloaded from the operating systems’ accessible library for remote use, a SaaS application is a web-based or hosted application that can be logged in and accessed online without installing and maintaining software.

What is a B2B SaaS product?

SaaS B2B companies sell products and services to other companies and not individual users. Popular examples include management software such as Jira, Salesforce, Zendesk, etc. In today’s corporate environment, most B2B SaaS applications are complex scalable applications that are used across a variety of functions in the company with different customizations offered as per the organizational hierarchy. These SaaS products are component-based, outcome-oriented applications that process and store large amounts of data to help businesses achieve more productive outcomes.

Challenges faced in B2B SaaS products

The adoption of B2B Saas products follows a different life-cycle since the ticket sizes are higher and most often it demands a shift in habit coupled with the strong motivation and value proposition. Below are some of the primary design based concerns:

An ecosystem-based solution

Every SaaS-based product is trying to solve one focal problem of the user base which also defines their USP. As a design partner, it’s not enough to understand just one pain-point; one must try to solve the issues arising in the periphery as well. This helps increase the value proposition of SaaS offerings and also serves as a one-stop solution for businesses. As designers, we always need to look at the bigger picture and translate that into features of the application. Data suggests that 52% of users will disengage with an application after an initial bad mobile experience.

Flexibility and efficiency of use

The same product services different sets of users who have different needs and technical know-how. The challenge is around the flexibility of the product to meet the needs of various user groups, across hierarchies and functionality to boost each individual group’s productivity criteria. Designing a customizable product that meets such varied needs and understanding can be quite daunting.

Making a great first impression

CPQ (Cost per Quote) model is very popular now as it empowers users and eases their decision-making process. With a subscription-based model, it is all the more important to capture the interest of the user and deliver the promised value proposition.

The average bounce rate from any website or application for a first time user is about 45%, which means that approximately one in two people click on a website or log in to an app only to leave or ‘bounce’ away from the site.

This happens because the experience is less than favorable for the user and they have decided to look for a product that is a better fit. Hence it’s imperative to structure the user experience right and draw the user in on his/her first visit.

Understanding User Behaviour

The above challenges clearly point towards the critical importance of having an in-depth understanding of B2B SaaS products. There are ample case studies and user review ratings to suggest that the highest challenge faced by any product team is in understanding the product behavior. As designers, we should spend an ample amount of time researching and understanding not just the obvious pain points but also the oblivious ones. This helps us in defining the value proposition to a greater extent and also in designing an impactful solution like none other. Below we have tried to decode the basics of User Persona Mapping for a B2B SaaS-Based product.

Segmenting the users and their roles

Depending on the Saas Products, we need to understand the businesses, roles, and people we are designing for. It's important to have a clear understanding as to how you group the users into a particular bucket, ie, how you segment them into focus users groups. To be able to do this, we need to have answers to questions such as, who would be using the product and to what extent, everyday professional challenges faced by users? Keeping the needs in mind, we have to strategize and implement customizable solutions as per the domain-specific requirements of the user groups.

Product problem statement validation

Every B2B SaaS product caters to a solution to one focal problem. For example, HubSpot meets the marketing needs, Zoom meets the conferencing needs, Vymo meets the on-ground sales people's needs. Every business is in existence because they have identified a gap and believe that their solution can make a difference. As designer’s we hold the primary responsibility of validating the business inferences with that of the pain points of target users; research should focus on behavioral patterns, tech-savviness, and most importantly the willingness to adopt the product. 61% of smartphone users will promptly log on to another website if the one they are on does not fulfill their needs.

Understand their personal motivations and emotions

Most often a management-based software is perceived as a measurement tool and not as a problem solver. Any CRM tool that exists today has an extremely poor adoption rate because it always takes a top-down approach instead of taking a bottom-up approach. This happens because none of these products have been able to incorporate the individual motivations of the users. When you define a proper value proposition for each of the user groups, this challenge is solved.

Prioritization of product features

Once you have an understanding of the users and their pain points, it's vital to translate each problem statement into a relevant product feature. And based on the user need chart and their journey of the product, designers need to prioritize features and create a blueprint of the app. As a product designer, it’s important to differentiate between the must-have functions versus the nice-to-have features. Most of the designers use card sorting techniques, user map flows to be able to come to a solution.

Buying Process

A vital part of understanding how B2B users interact with SaaS products is through studying the buying process. The Eisenberg Customer modality studies buyer behavior and analyses their purchase patterns to understand what motivates them to buy what they buy. Data suggests that since the B2B SaaS customer is making a purchase decision on behalf of the company, they are likely to take a slow and method-oriented approach instead of making a hasty decision. Their buying process involves reviewing the technical data on the application and considering alternatives for the same product. Purchase statistics state that most buyers feel more familiar with a brand after consuming some content from it, both in the form of a blog post or a video; 73% of consumers are more likely to buy a product or service after seeing a relevant video on the offerings.

User Testing

User Testing in B2B SaaS startups is vital in order to reduce the incidence of errors since organizations are less forgiving of errors as compared to individual users. Here are some ways:

1. Limited Release: 

Many B2B SaaS startups experiment with a limited release of an app whereby they release a minimum viable product (MVP) of the application to the first set of users. This proves to be an efficient method of gauging user response for a product because we can review which features are relevant/critical for the end-users and which are passable. A limited release also helps ascertain the reception of the application in terms of device optimization. Mobile users are five times more likely to abandon a purchase or cancel a subscription if a website isn’t optimized for mobile as compared to traditional web users.

2. A/B Testing: 

Since B2B SaaS startups are targeted at large organization which services many people across different job roles and responsibilities, it might be a good idea to iterate with different versions of the application for different user groups. This method is also known as split testing since it enables users to capture different reactions to the two versions and pick the ones that garner the more positive response.

Benefits of investing in user research

Increase in Sales and User Adoption

The most intuitive benefit is an increase in user adoption thereby increasing overall sales. A bug-free application that is equipped with all the desired features and a favorable experience will surpass user experiences and generate positive reviews leading to higher adoption numbers and repeated subscriptions. A ten percent improvement in user experience can translate into a billion dollars in additional revenue.

Increase in User productivity

The purpose of any B2B SaaS product is to ease the internal functioning of the organization and help the employees get things done efficiently. If the application removes manual bottlenecks to work and increases the operational efficiency of the organization, it will generate an overall increase in productivity and drive higher rates of adoption in the future. User adoption point in the direction of an unforgiving mobile-first generation; over 90% of users stop using an application after having a bad experience, while 86% are likely to uninstall one such application altogether.

Decreased User errors

User errors in an application represent an inherent cost to the company. This happens because errors indicate a longer time requirement as far as the task completion is concerned at the very least; in some cases, this leads to duplication of labor. Efficient B2B SaaS startups must be proactive in identifying user errors and removing them.

Decreased Training Costs

When an app is designed keeping user preferences and patterns of behavior in mind, the resulting product is built to suit. This paves the way for instinctual user experience and reduces training costs for the employer.

Early iterations in the design cycle leading to savings

Every feature that is added to an application requires the allocation of both resources and funds for development. If the MVP of the application is pivoted smartly to suit the needs of the end-user, a large portion of unnecessary development costs can be capped at an early stage.

Decreased User Support

A smooth-functioning B2B SaaS application will require less support from the team post-deployment saving valuable time and resources for the startup.

Conclusion

Building a B2B SaaS startup can be a daunting process because involves many levels of meticulous planning and execution for people in organizations with different roles and responsibilities.

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