Using the cloud is a great way to share information, securely, with customers, vendors, and business partners. Most tools are relatively inexpensive, easy to setup, seem easy for your customers to use, and adequately secure. For many of these services, your customers access the data you are sharing by creating a free account on that service. This seemingly harmless step, however, can be the source of problems.
You cloud sharing solution may be punishing your customers.
Using a cloud solution that requires customers (or others) to create a free account will, in many instances, cause problems for your customers.
- Free Accounts are Never Really Free. When your customer sets up their free accounts, your vendor has gained a new “customer”. Expect the vendor to start marketing to your customers in order to sell them upgrades to paid versions. Your vendor will likely to add your customers to their newsletter and update notice lists.
Sharing a file should not create an email headache for your customers.
- Your Customer May Need to Help. Many cloud sharing services require, or encourage via default prompts, the installation of browser and desktop extensions, applications, or services. If your customer uses a managed computer, she may not have rights to install the necessary widget to access the shared data.
Your customer should not need to help from
IT to open a shared file or a secure email from you.
- You Can Break Your Customers’ Computers. Even if the necessary extension, application, or service can be installed, your cloud app may break their computers. If the extension, application, or service, conflicts with other software or services on your customer’s computer, you have created a problem that can be time-consuming to figure out and resolve.
Reading a shared files and secure email should not cause system problems.
- Not Everybody Wants More Software. A customer of ours once asked if he would need to install anything to view a file we were about to share. He pointed out that he currently had 4 apps for accessing shared file services, 1 app and 2 browser extensions for reading secure emails, and 3 web meeting clients installed on his system — non of which his company uses. Once every few weeks, he spends time uninstalling these “helpful tools” to keep his system free of clutter.
A shared file or secure email should not require a system cleanup.
The biggest issue with all of the above scenarios is that they disrespect your customers’ time by creating inconveniences or problems. Doing business with you should be easy.
When picking cloud solutions, such as file sharing and secure email services, look for systems that do not require (or prefer by default) your customers to setup accounts or install software of any type. Unless your customer agrees to that type of solution (such as accessing a project management system), you are potentially creating problems and annoyances that can change your customer’s perception of you and your business.
Feel free to contact us if we can help you evaluate your options and solutions.