“Computation may someday be organized as a public utility,” said John McCarthy, a renowned computer scientist and one of the founders of artificial intelligence, back in 1961. At the time, it may have seemed bizarre. But 60 years later, it rings true. Today, nearly every aspect of human employment and interaction is moderated by technology. 

An average organization uses over 50 software tools to go about their everyday work; some use over 250 tools! 

  • Engineering departments use tools like GitHub, Jira, AWS etc. 
  • Finance teams use Quickbooks, Stripe or ChargeBee etc.
  • Product teams use SaaS software like Trello, Asana, ClickUp etc. 
  • Marketing teams use HubSpot, MailChimp, Typeform etc.
  • Content teams use Grammarly, Writer etc.
  • Sales teams use Salesforce, Insightly etc.
  • HR teams use Gusto, BambooHR etc.
  • Customer success teams use Zendesk, HelpScout etc.
  • All teams use Email, Slack, Dropbox etc.

Some of these tools are purchased by the organization, many are bought by the employees themselves and reimbursed — a phenomenon we call decentralized SaaS buying. For the CFO, this creates a number of challenges such as shadow IT, lack of security measures, duplicate spends and overpaying.

Yet, decentralized SaaS buying is becoming increasingly common because of one fundamental reason: It allows the employee to buy the tool they like and need.

Traditionally, software procurement is not optimized for user sentiment. Procurement teams are designed to find the best deal on any category of software, but not the best software for the need. This makes employees feel forced to use a tool they might not like.

With SaaS enabling individuals to buy what they need, user sentiment plays an inevitable role in the purchase decision. In this blog post, we explore how CFOs and organizational leaders can incorporate user sentiment seamlessly into their SaaS buying process.

What is user sentiment?

User sentiment refers to an employee’s like or dislike for a software they use. As employees are more likely to use products they like, user sentiment plays a critical role in ensuring process adherence and data hygiene in the organization.

How you can understand user sentiment

The two main parameters to consider when evaluating user sentiment are: Satisfaction and Criticality. 

Satisfaction provides insight into which tools your employees like or dislike. If an employee dislikes a tool they have been given, they are not likely to use it. Same goes for tools that don’t have the functionality they need as well. 

For instance, if the engineering team doesn’t like Trello, they would either use a free version of something like Jira or Linear, or pay for it and reimburse later. Worst case, they would use something like a notebook or a Spreadsheet, affecting productivity significantly.

Criticality provides insight into tools that different teams need to perform their daily tasks effectively. Say, you have a subscription for an email management tool, but the marketing team does not send email campaigns at all, it is not critical to their work. This makes the expense wasteful.

When you should track user sentiment

User sentiment about a specific product is highly likely to change over time. For instance, the marketing team might begin with a tool that simply sends SMSes. Over time, they might need a solution that can also send messages on WhatsApp, Telegram, Twitter DMs and so on. So, a tool that was highly satisfactory at one point, might no longer be so.

Therefore, it is good to track user sentiment at regular intervals. However, it is critical to track user sentiment for tools coming up for renewals. 

At Spendflo, we recommend running user sentiment surveys 90-120 days before renewal date.

How you should track user sentiment

There are some widely used customer satisfaction models that can be used to user sentiment as well, such as:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): Typically, NPS asks users to rate a product on a scale of 1 to 10. Based on the number the user chooses, they will be classified into a category of either detractors, passives or promoters. 
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): This metric uses binary options or a Likert rating scale. 
  • Customer Effort Score (CES): This uses Likert scale, emoticon options or a 1 to 10 scale to evaluate ease of use.

Just as much as surveys can help your business, it can get to be too much if it’s too elaborate or done too often. Survey fatigue is real and can give you inaccurate or misleading data. 

This is why, at Spendflo, we recommend a simple two-question survey on satisfaction and criticality.

Set up a simple survey to capture user sentiment

Ask your teams two specific questions:

  • How satisfied are you with the software?
  • How critical is it to your work?

Give them the option to leave a review or specify qualitative feedback.

Use the NPS model to understand organizational sentiment

Use the NPS model to understand survey responses. The more promoters you have the better. While passives might not feel strongly about a tool, they are also less likely to use it as they don’t particularly like it.

Collect additional qualitative data

When there are a significant number of detractors or passives for a critical tool, it is important to understand why. Use interviews or detailed surveys with open-ended questions. 

How you can use user sentiment data for effective decision-making

Based on the user sentiment analysis, you can fit your tools on a 2x2 sentiment score map. 

High satisfaction-high criticality: Renew

Your teams like the tool and use the tool very often. This means that the decision to renew is made. However, there still might be an opportunity to consolidate or optimize. When it’s time to renew, reconsider the contract and negotiate confidently.

Low satisfaction-low criticality: Retire

Your teams neither like nor need these tools. Cut them out entirely and save costs. Create a plan to retire these SaaS tools, ensuring that you’ve backed up all the data.

High satisfaction-low criticality: Renegotiate

While your teams love to use this tool, it is not critical to their success. Identify what they love about the tool using additional qualitative data. Then, renegotiate these tools for a better price. Given that these are not mission-critical, you have the luxury of negotiating hard with the vendor.

Low satisfaction-high criticality: Replace/retrain

The most common example of this tends to be the customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Sales team members find it tedious to use the tool, it often takes too much time, needs many clicks, isn’t available on the go etc. In fact, an average salesperson spends 4 hours a week on Salesforce. But a CRM is critical for not just that sales team, but has downstream effects on the entire organization. In such cases, consider retraining users about using the tool; evangelize it focussing on the benefits. If that doesn’t help, it’s time to explore alternative tools that do the same thing.

Leveraging the Spendflo Sentiment Hub

Spendflo is an all-in-one SaaS buying, management and security platform. At Spendflo, we believe that user sentiment about their SaaS products must be available in context. This means that the CFO not only needs to know whether someone likes their SaaS tool or not, but also:

  1. How many licenses do we have?
  2. Which teams are using this tool?
  3. How many are active users?
  4. How much are we paying for this tool?
  5. How critical is this tool for the teams using it?
  6. Does the tool integrate with any other in the organization?

Spendflo’s sentiment hub enables all this and more. Get a demo today.

Guru Nicketan
Content Strategist
Karthikeyan Manivannan
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