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Choosing a SaaS digital agency - 9 Critical Questions To Ask!

If you operate within the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) sector, you already know that this is an ultra-competitive environment where only the most adaptable businesses survive. At a time when behavioural patterns are constantly in a state of flux, you need to be ready to react and adapt to change by delivering valuable solutions which meet the evolving needs of your users

Most analysts agree that the SaaS sector is growing but as markets become increasingly saturated, standing out from the crowd is becoming even more important. This is where providing a great user experience can really set your platform apart

Now, there are many considerations in selecting the right digital user experience agency for your business. In fact, this process should be viewed as being equally as important as the process of hiring your own, in-house employees.

For the most effective relationship you should seek a partnership, whereby the agency becomes an integral extension to your business, this way they can truly immerse themselves in your brand experience.

By working with a UX partner agency, they’ll be able to help identify points of weakness in your digital experience that can be optimised to better improve the user journey, keeping your platform relevant, user friendly and performing at its best.

So, what do you need to know when looking for a SaaS UX agency partner?

1. Ask yourself, what do you want to achieve?

Before starting to look for a SaaS digital agency to help you optimise your platform, it is important to first understand what you want to achieve? Do you need more enquiries and leads, are you struggling to improve conversion rates or is increasing retention your priority?

From here you can begin to question…

2. What skills are needed?

You might already have a design and marketing team working for you in-house, however user experience is a different skill set. Objectively understanding and championing the needs of the user, balanced with the wants of the business can be difficult when you work so closely on a project.

3. What areas of marketing and UX does the agency specialise in?

Understanding your requirements will help you to filter through a host of agencies that simply cannot offer what you need relatively quickly. For example, if you know that you need an experienced, specialist B2B UX agency, you won’t have to spend any time looking at agencies that only offer a B2C generic digital design service.

Now that you have saved a significant amount of time here, you can start deep diving into the fundamentals of each potential agency and look at…

4. How much experience does this agency have?

Well, primarily, your focus should be on hiring an agency with significant understanding of optimising the user experience and user interface design of applications and SaaS platforms. Whilst not essential, if they do also happen to have some experience working within your specific niche it might speed up the understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the context in which you are operating.

5. What will make this a success?

A good UX agency will champion user research and aim to gain a deep understanding of your specific target audience, their goals, wants and needs. You need to discover what frustrates your audience and what they expect to see and experience.

Whether they recommend using remote testing or in-person interviews and workshops, any agency that doesn’t champion gaining insight should be avoided. Yes, they may have the expertise to recommend best practice, and when budgets are restricted, this is sometimes the only option. But if you are serious about making significant improvements, your UX agency should know that empirical insight is the right step.

6. What will it cost?

If you want to make a significant change to the performance of your SaaS product it will require investment in research. It’s quite likely that gut-feel, assumptions and opinions got you where you are today, whilst that may have worked out to some extent, there is no substitute for real consumer insight to help drive your product to the next level.

To get the most from prospective agencies it is best to be up-front about the budget you can afford, that way they can make the best recommendations within your constraints.

While yes, a series of one-to-one interviews might be the best research method, but if your budget is limited, remote video calls and screen sharing might be a more cost effective option. Give agencies the opportunity to suggest their recommended solutions within your specified budget and this will tell you a lot about their approach.

7. What will I get?

Being presented with the outcome of user research can be meaningless without the analysis that needs to come with it. You need an agency that can gather and interpret the research and provide actionable insights to inform changes that will have a real business impact.

If you want a solution to combat low retention, make it clear from the outset what you need and what the constraints are - If you want a list of recommended improvements to the platform, do you need to be mindful of the restrictions of the underlying technology or system, if so make this clear from the beginning. There is no point receiving a set of recommendations which require you to rebuild from the ground up if that isn’t a realistic option

8. Is this agency the right cultural fit for my business?

Ultimately, you need to feel confident that you can build an effective working relationship with your agency. Is the team easy to get on with? Are they creative? Do you want ‘Yes people’ or an agency that will challenge you to get the most from what you are trying to achieve?

Can the team demonstrate that they:
- really understand the fundamentals of your business
- recognise the specific objectives you want to achieve
- feel confident that they can deliver on your expectations?

You might also want to think about the size of the agency in relation to the size of your own business. This won’t necessarily always be a deal breaker, but it’s worth noting that if you are a small business and you opt to partner with a large agency, you might quickly find yourself at the very bottom of their list of priorities.

9. Does this agency have a proven track record?

Who has the agency worked with in the past? What similar projects have they undertaken? What results have they achieved? Have they won awards for their work? Are they accredited?

Read through some of their case studies, what approach to solving problems do they take? Why not ask to speak with some of their clients and get first hand references to find out how they work and if they are true to their word?

When it comes to a digital product, the user experience is truly what will make or break its success, with no physical attributes as such, it is purely how the user feels about the system that will determine whether the customer chooses to buy and be loyal, or not.

If you have invested so much in getting it where it is today, don’t risk losing out to competitors on something which can be fixed.

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