I subscribe to a whole lot of SAAS products – almost 3-4 per week. Not that I am a SAAS-addict, but as part of running a high growth company (i.e. NextBigWhat), we need a lot of products off-the-shelf and we totally prefer a SAAS approach.

And as part of that, one ends up trying out new service and yeah, new pricing plans.

Fake

Here is an observation I have had with most of the SAAS startups – founder’s emails are FAKE.

For example, an email like this is bound to increase your interest in the conversation:

“I noticed that you started on <X> recently, and I just wanted to check in and see how things are going. Please let me know if you need any help or have any questions. I would be glad to assist.

If you have any questions about your implementation, let’s hop on the phone.”

TILL you figure out the sender’s id, which is either @amazonses.com or well, a white-labeled (sendgrid) account.

What’s wrong with that? Well, this is same as talking to an automated call center, assuming it to be a human*.

I am not complaining. After all, founders are busy people (and reply-to id could be founder’s id, but in most of the cases, it’s support id). But the truth is that once you start reciving similar emails from pretty much all the SAAS products, you know that there is an overdose of ‘personalized fake’ emails that are doing the rounds.

Again, I am not complaining – but hats off to those who started this entire communication protocol. The challenge is that the ‘followers’ are mostly copying the ‘personalized-yet-automated’ concept without giving it too much of thought.

What’s the big deal?

I have stopped replying to founder’s emails asking for feedback. Not that I don’t want to share my feedback, but somehow finding that the other person turned out to be a bot suddenly disconnects you from the conversation (plus the brand) and one stops giving personal feedback/suggestions.

Talking about personal communication, CEO of a very well known US based Email marketing company recently (as in 2012) replied to my query (regarding a few edge use-cases) and knowing that the reply wasn’t an automated one (he actually helped me solved the query with suggestions more specific to my use-case), I ended up appreciating the company and till this date, we are paying for the service.

Not that I am saying that every founder needs to spend the entire day sending personal replies, but being aware that you are faking is important.

After all, no A/B test will ever tell you if your faking was caught or not.

So chose your communication cleverly! The receiver is a human, who has swiped his/her credit card for your service. Provide a human interface, if you can.

Faking human as a bot interface with predictable content and frequency may not go very well with the audience. Not all the time.

What I am trying to drive is that there has to be a better communication protocol and not all emails should come from founders who are trying to fake it. Creating a sense of ‘hey! you are talking to activation/on-boarding team etc is okay – customers aren’t really looking for a P2P conversation, but for sure, faking doesn’t make it.

 * : To give you an idea of fake conversation, watch this section from the movie Ctrl Alt Del