You’ve just bought a new car. You’ve been wanting this car for a while. (Actually if this was about my husband I would say there are many cars he has been wanting for a while!). It’s a red mustang and you got it for a good price, $19,000. You can pick it up on Monday!
But then they send the agreement through. What?! It’s a yellow Mustang? And the price is $22,000!
‘Just sign it’, they say, when you phone to let the dealership know about the error. ‘We both know what we’ve agreed, don’t worry about the paperwork. Trust us.’
‘Trust us?!!’, you think. ‘But this is a legal agreement, surely it should match what we’ve agreed?’
Believe it, many independent software vendors (ISVs) are doing this all the time to their customers. Are you one of these ISVs?
Why you shouldn’t surprise or alarm your customers with agreements that don’t match what you have agreed (even if some customers don’t notice)
These two things need to match; what you agree with your customer and what your agreement says. After all, the agreement should be a written record of what you agree. Yes the written version has a number of extra things in it as well. But as far as what you verbally agree, the agreement should be consistent.
This is not for the sake of having nice agreements. As an ISV with cloud-based services, the details of your service commitment and exception factors (when the service commitment does not apply) are important (along with many other details). With monthly recurring fees, it’s important that these details actually represent what you intend to agree. But before you get to provide the service, many customers will review the agreement and will raise questions if things don’t make sense to them. This costs you time and money.
How ISVs can have a ‘no surprises’ approach for customers (and why this is for the ISVs benefit as well)
Would a customer’s key questions about your service be answered by reading your SaaS (or IaaS or PaaS) agreements? If not, then why not?
You see if the car sales person asks what color car you want and you say red and they either get that wrong in the agreement or they leave it out altogether, that will likely be one of the main things they look for when they see your agreement.
Your customers may or may not have questions. But either way, don’t surprise them. And be clear so that for those that review the agreement carefully, they are not surprised or alarmed. What they would most like to see is an agreement that matches what you have told them (whether verbally, in emails or on your site) and anticipates and responds to questions that they or other customers might have.
Interested in learning more about the financial benefits of this approach?