The Problem with Data Exports in SaaS

You may not realize it, but you could be creating a sub-optimal customer analytics experience.  A prime example is the ability to export data from your SaaS product. It seems like a great option, but that feature has two hidden costs to it. 

  1. A productivity cost. You’re pushing “analyst time” on the user, week in and week out. 
  2. An opportunity cost. You miss out on deeper user engagement in your product.

Ultimately, this situation leads to a frustrated and less engaged customer. 

Here’s a simple scenario to illustrate the point above.

Imagine you’ve built a sales CRM. Your user, a young and ambitious sales rep, is set on hitting quota. She’s been saving up for a trip, and she’s only one commission away. Her plan to reach the target is solid. She’s going to analyze which products sold best, and which customers buy them. If she doubles down on what worked in the past, she’ll reach her quota in no time.

Now here’s the problem. 

Your CRM’s analytics only show top-level revenue. But the young sales rep needs to dig deeper. She runs a customer report, exports the data, analyzes it in Excel, and finally finds the insight she needs. However, it took her half a day before she could actually start executing her plan. She feels drained, frustrated, and annoyed. She spent 4 hours on data analysis during end-of-quarter crunch time, when she could have been selling. 

Visualization of how data exports in SaaS are a suboptimal experience

What if she had a tool that would answer her questions in one click? She would have crushed her target.

While this example is limited to CRM, data export is a common feature in the SaaS world.  Your product users may be in the same boat. Maybe they are not complaining about it, but most likely don’t know any better. But once they do, you risk losing them to a competitor with better reporting capabilities.

Meme of how product users prefer visual dashboards instead of a data export in SaaS product

Introducing Customer Analytics Experience

As a product manager, you want to build fantastic experiences for your customers. So why wait up until the point your customers are frustrated, and it’s too late? 

A good analytics experience isn’t about dashboards. It’s about supporting your customer’s goals. All they want is to make smart decisions confidently and quickly. So let today be the day you stop building ‘analytics’. And start building a better customer analytics experience.

Here’s what that looks like:

Let’s imagine the same sales user again. She opens your CRM and navigates to the insights section. In one click, she can filter on the product with the highest sales. Then, she clicks a single button, which pulls a list of interested prospects straight from the CRM. This entire process took her 5 minutes. All she has to do is start calling and selling!

Note that there are a few major differences in this story. 

  1. The rep has the ability to explore the data presented in-product. 
  2. She gets insights, not raw data. She does not need to put on her analyst hat and tinker in Excel for hours. 
  3. Better yet, she gets a prospect list she can act on quickly.  
  4. Finally, the time investment is minimal vs. the previous boondoggle. 

Visualization of how you can delight software users with an interactive customer analytics experience

And it’s a win-win situation. The user engages deeper with your product and spends time with you, which would otherwise be spent in Excel. You’ve become a trusted source of intelligence that she will undoubtedly return to. Maybe she will even brag to her peers at other companies about it.

The road to a stickier SaaS product

A good customer analytics experience is fun, easy, and makes your customer a superhero. It changes the way they work. They gain time, all thanks to your product. And time is the most valuable resource one can have. 

The more value you bring them, the more engaging your product will become. We all know SaaS can be a ‘Game of Thrones’ at times, so you want to keep your users happy and coming back for more.

Building an engaging customer analytics experience is easier said than done. But anyone can do it. You just need the right foundations. Embedded analytics tools can help to build these foundations quickly.

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