Impersonation for fun and profit (and customer value)

Masks by Rickydavid, on Flickr


One of the greatest values of SaaS products is that you don’t really need to care about the underpinnings. It’s out “there” in the cloud, humming away.

But things will always go wrong.

In that case, how do you best leverage the power of SaaS to give your customers the urgent help they deserve?

While many issues can be solved at the system level, it is very useful for product mangers, QA and OPS to “see the system” through the customers’ eyes. Usually, internal folk have higher permissions, which alleviate things like access to capabilities, early features availability and more. It is very important for your in-house ops folk to access and view the system through a customer eyes. Interesting conclusions can be derived from such an experience:

  • The realization that access to “internal” tools will ease the life of the customer – automating everyday tasks.
  • Permissions: your customers don’t enjoy the same level of access as the almighty wizards in ops. Maybe some permissions/abilities should be made available to all?
  • Focused world view: access to a single tenant in the environment can make a difference in the way some reports/screens are viewed – usability treasures are buried here!

Of course, we are walking the razor edge of privacy, there are some services you wouldn’t want to make available to ops – for example private customer files. Thread carefully when considering what is kept private and what should be accessible to ops.

Build the ability to have ops view the system as a customer, from day one (but be mindful of privacy).

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