Lessons from SaaStr: User experience matters.
The vibe was upbeat and energetic last week at SaaStr 2022, the world’s largest B2B software conference. The quintessential Silicon Valley event embodies the SV culture’s belief in and optimism about business success. This year, the attendee list soared and included companies from across the country and around the world.
The great thing about SaaStr is that it’s full of extroverts: lots of sales and marketing types who are so open and enthusiastic about sharing their company stories and listening to others share theirs. We loved it when happy customers of ours would literally give a shout-out, “We love Airbase!” as they passed by our booth.
Sales and marketing professionals are big users of expense management products like Airbase, so the fact so many were experienced with our product didn’t surprise us. Of course, we were particularly interested to hear from those who use other solutions to submit expenses and manage marketing spend.
The key takeaway: sales and marketing teams aren’t happy with most expense management tools! Whether they were complaining about Concur or taking exception to Expensify, attendees weren’t shy about coming up to our booth and venting about the expense tools they currently use. The common refrain was that the systems they have are glitchy, difficult to use, and unintuitive.
Employee frustration with the user experience of expense management tools is also a common thread on consumer review sites. On the popular review site G2, many reviewers say that prior to Airbase, they would rather just absorb work-related expenses than go through the hassle of seeking reimbursement with legacy expense tools. “I previously used Expensify, and building out an expense report felt cumbersome and not worth it for all those sub-$10 purchases.” The windfall of the estimated $10.7B in unclaimed business expenses each year comes at the cost of disgruntled employees who resent using their own funds for business purposes.
One G2 review notes: “I used Concur at a previous employer, and it was an absolute nightmare when it came to submitting my expense report. Seriously, I waited to the last possible moment because the system was archaic, and there were sooooooo many fields to fill out before it accepted and let me proceed.”
Why Airbase ranks high for usability.
Our analysis of consumer reviews found that Airbase ranked highest out of our competitors for usability. After talking directly to users at SaaStr, we have a better understanding of why.
It often comes down to details. For example, Expensify’s SmartScan technology scans photos of receipts to pull out relevant details for an expense claim, just like Airbase does. However, many people find the details pulled from SmartScan are inaccurate, which leads to confusion, corrections, and questions when asking for reimbursements.
The risks of unhappy employees.
When employees find expense reporting tools difficult to use, they find workarounds. That makes it difficult for finance to have clear visibility into company spending and current financial status, which, in turn, throws off budgeting and forecasting. When employees submit an expense outside the standard process, members of the finance team have to pick up the slack and fill in details. They can also feel more like police officers than collaborative partners helping sales and marketing get the things they need to do their jobs.
Clunky expense management tools put a company at risk for rogue spending. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) defines rogue spending as “the process of an employee buying a needed product or service without complying with the organization’s normal or prescribed process; off-contract buying.” According to the ISM, rogue spending constitutes up to 80% of some companies’ total spend.
This lack of control can ultimately impact a company’s growth. In our Spendlightenment Survey of Finance Professionals, 66% of respondents said that poor visibility and control will impact growth at their companies.
When nobody wants to use the systems that are designed to control spending, it’s difficult to maintain control. It’s impossible to know the current status of the budget. And it’s not good for relationships between finance and the rest of the company.
Be a hero. Give sales and marketing tools they will love.
The Airbase spend management platform reimagines the entire process of spending company money. It was designed to provide an excellent user experience for both employees and finance teams. Customizable, automated workflows route spend requests to the correct approvers. For reimbursement requests, employees simply snap a photo of a receipt and are reimbursed for that expense, thanks in part to state-of-the-art OCR technology and AI. That means no more tedious expense reports.
Ultimately, introducing expense management tools that people actually like transforms a company’s spend culture and finance’s relationship with employees who spend company money.
Michael Zheng, Head of Finance at Affinity, describes the transformation after onboarding:
“Airbase has shifted the conversation around spend. What used to be a post-expenditure questionnaire, ‘Why did you spend this?’ is now a collaborative planning conversation, ‘What will you need to spend on in the short and the long-term and how will it benefit the business?’”
As all those sales and marketing teams headed home from SaaStr to file their expense reports, we know the Airbase users will have an easy time. We hope the finance teams for all others will heed their employees’ pleas to check out Airbase. Attending SaaStr only to hear people gripe about the tools they’re currently using was, well, music to our ears. Let us show you why employees love Airbase.
Airbase offers a one platform solution to manage all non-payroll spend. It provides oversight and control over spending with real-time reporting and automatic syncing directly to your general ledger. Control all payments – physical cards, virtual cards, ACH, and checks – from one place. Close faster. Empower employees. Control spend.
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