Ok. That was a bit harsh, but bear with me, I have a point. Sort of.
How I decide if I want to use… things
As a developer I’m often scurrying the wild internet for libraries and services to make my day easier. Often, there’s several competitors who wants to solve my problem and choosing which one who gets my attention is a journey. I thought I could explain what makes or breaks a first impression for a service in my book.
The good examples
My perfect provider does the following correct:
- Clean landing page which provides information about the service
- Easy login
- Free trial
- Self service
- Good and accessible documentation
- Open source code
If you provide me with the above, you make me happy, and most likely a customer of your service. I’m even willing to pay a bit more for it if you ease my use of the service and hence save me time and money.
The open source bit is just a bonus, but it shows confidence in your code base when you’re willing to share it. It lets me do due diligence on the code quality which runs the service, and even lets me directly impact the direction of the service. Both big pluses.
The horror of “Contact us”
Then we have the other side of the coin. The worst providers does the following:
- “Contact us” / have to ask for a demo
- Nonsensical buzz words / “sales talk”
- Inaccessible/hidden information
- Non-free trial
- Have to provide credit card details for trial
Whenever I see these providers, 99% of the time I just simply close the web page. The only exception could be the credit card details bullet which can be somewhat defended by the ease of transitioning from a trial to a paid subscription. The others are cardinal sins.
If I have to talk to a person to be able to use a solution, it says alot about how mature the company providing the service is. It also means I probably have to talk to a person later at some point to get something done, which frankly, I don’t want to. Being directly dependent on other people in the software business is a weakness which will come back to haunt you.
In a new digital world services tend to span different time zones, meaning human availability will be sparse if you’re lucky enough to be in the “wrong” time zone. There’s also an abundance of support systems which rely on 1st line, 2nd line, 3rd line etc, and you have to work your way down the supply chain, even though you know exactly what needs to be done and who needs to do it. If you’re given the ability to handle the issue yourself, you automatically save time for you as a user of the service as well as the service provider.
Remove friction, get customers
I don’t have any research data to show for (it’s probably out there), but I can speak for myself and quite a few fellow developers that act and feel the way I do. We do not want to talk to people when we’re looking for a solution, we just want the solution. Best part is, we’re willing to pay for it.
Building self service solutions is hard, but definitely worth it. They help new users onboard themselves and the whole service is automatically more attractive for developers in general. Twilio is an excellent example of a service provider who has made both sms and calls a commodity through APIs, and just recently announced Twilio Flex with features built atop of the basic APIs they provide. They will continue to provide both the basic APIs and the new solution so they automatically target both new and old customers in different segments.
As known by some, we’ve created LoRa-as-a-Service which tries to follow the “good examples” section. We simply made the service with a focus on what we would’ve wanted as developers.