Why Customers Aren't Using Your Software

April 22, 2021

By Taryn Hefner

Taryn runs Marketing at Join It and is a lover of all things data! You can frequently find her experimenting in the kitchen, absorbed in a book, or brushing up on her Python coding skills.

View other posts by Taryn

These days, it seems like it’s software that makes the world go round. Whether you’re using different tools for productivity, outreach, task tracking, or even processes at home like grocery shopping or family calendar management, you’ve probably had your fair share of new tools thrown at you. 

So what makes software worth using? What are the common barriers to getting started? We wanted to know, so we asked around! Let’s take a look at what folks had to say. 

Trial Periods 

More often than not, users feel that trial periods aren’t long enough. Whether it’s because the tool has a steep learning curve, they have busy schedules, or they just plain forget, a longer trial period will never be looked down on by users. 

Chloe Brittain, the owner of Opal Transcription Services, had this to say about trial lengths: “When it comes to evaluating and purchasing a new tool, I find that the trial period usually isn't long enough. I try out different marketing tools from time to time -- most recently a pricey SEO tool suite -- and most of them offer a week-long trial. If I get too busy that week, then I don't have time to dig into the tool and get to know all the features, so I end up losing interest in it or going with an alternative.”

It can be tempting to limit free trials of your tool to a week or fourteen days to encourage users to sign up for the entire suite. Unfortunately, users might be more likely to choose a competitor without the flexibility to learn on their own terms. 
 

Customer Support

Something that differentiates good products from great products is customer service, and interactions with a customer service team can make or break a brand’s image for a customer. 

“The one thing that keeps me from buying new software is the long hours that support teams take to resolve your queries,” said Thilo Huellmann, CTO at Levity AI.  “Is phone support available, or is it all handled through email or a ticketing system? What is the expected answer time for a request if you are using a ticketing system?” 

Onboarding as a new user is a process full of questions, and if your potential users can’t get their questions answered promptly, they might just pass on your business altogether. 

On that note, having humans behind your customer support is just as important as answering questions quickly. Chatbots, ticket systems, and FAQ sections should only be used as supplements for your customer service team, not as a stand-in for them. 


Security 

Depending on the business you’re running, you could access users’ payment information, social security information, and other personally identifiable information (PII). For companies that use and store this information, data security should be at the top of your priority list. 

Veronica Miller at VPN Overview agrees. “Data collection, security, storage, and sharing are all important aspects of any software. I usually check out the protection page for any software I am thinking of buying. Before buying any software, you may want to have an enforcement officer or lawyer review the security documents. PCI, HIPAA, Section 508, GDPR, and WCAG are some of the compliance regulations to consider depending on the product use case and the business.” 

Common industries that need an extra layer of security include banking and investing, healthcare, and rental housing. If you are creating or running a business in any of these sectors, consider hiring a security expert to ensure you’re compliant with any necessary guidelines or laws in your region. 

 
Community 
 
Some users are more hesitant than others to use new products because there’s very little community support. 
 
For insight into this mindset, I spoke with Anthony Martin, CEO of Choice Mutual, who had this to say: “As a software user, I like to confer with others if I encounter any problems or need help with a niche problem. Customer service is not always going to be available, and often it's the users who go into the most detail to help me solve my problem.” 
 
Websites like Stack Overflow rely on this community support model, and users can often find answers to incredibly specific, complex, or odd questions with major software programs or operating systems. 
 
It will be hard for new, niche, or smaller businesses to cater to this mindset, so instead of relying on users to search their favorite search engine for help, offer help up front in a welcome email. Make it clear on your website that you will provide access to an exclusive community, too! 


And Of Course, Price 

If you didn’t see this one coming, you’re not paying attention! Price is most often the biggest hurdle for any business, large or small, when it comes to investing in new software. 

However, the folks I talked to had some interesting insights about why the price was so important, rather than just saying a tool was too expensive. 

Payment Terms 

“Usually, these tools will want you to sign up for a monthly payment schedule, so you never really own the software. It would be easier if you could make a one-time payment, but I find it can often be difficult to convince the rest of the company to spring for these large recurring payments.” 

Kate MacDonnell 
CMO, Coffee Affection

With this in mind, it could be beneficial to offer monthly payment offerings and annual payments. This is especially true if your organization caters to small businesses who may not have the cash up front to pay for a large yearly subscription but want to use their monthly revenue to pay for a monthly subscription. 

Credit Cards 

“Free trials that require the consumer to add a debit or credit card are something I am wary of. Instead of asking for your financial information, software companies could ask about your experience a few days before the free trial ends and then give users the option to buy the software. It would make investing in the product an easier choice to make.”

Meg Marrs 
Founder, Safer Senior Care

Clarity 

“The biggest problem I face is clarity on pricing. Companies offer so many different tiers that it's hard to know which features I'm getting at each level. That's not to mention the pricing changes that occur along the way, or the limited user licenses and other tricks companies use to obfuscate the final, total price.”

Nate Tsang
Founder and CEO, Wall Street Zen 

Don’t pull the wool over your users’ eyes! This should go without saying, but using tactics designed to trick your users into paying more will only lead to canceled subscriptions and a sullied brand image.

Wrapping Up 

There are so many reasons why a user would choose another software solution over yours that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed! Test what works for your business. If a longer trial period doesn’t work for you, keep it at a 7-day trial. If you discover that your customer service is lacking, invest in boosting your current team’s resources and maybe even adding another person to the roster. 

Be sure to honestly evaluate your trial period, tier structure, and customer service, and you’ll be miles ahead of the competition.