Don't look now, but we pulled out the street-sign image for this topic. It's a very easy thing to do, say that you offer a full suite of support for a client, especially in the internet age where an email address and a domain name can make you a service-based company online. Unfortunately for clients, these things do not automate the process of actually providing valuable service to the client.
When establishing Chewie Media, we decided that we did not wish to keep clients at arms length, or that we would set up ways to distance ourselves and our support from the end user; Chewie Media would be a company that would go the extra mile for the client, even if the request was not explicitly stated in an agreement.
Since Chewie Media launched its Bid Intent initiative, we've been able to better define what a client should expect from a software as a service. Traditional software, such as Quickbooks or Outlook, has a discreet set of features and is advertised to operate a certain way for the life of the product; chances are the bug you find the first day of using it will be there until you buy a new version or use a different program. With software as a service such as Bid Intent, a client is paying an ongoing service fee to use the software. Because of this ongoing service fee, there are a set of characteristics that a client should expect out of anyone providing "software as a service".
Timely and Substantial Updates - Software as a service should demonstrate consitent growth and maturation of the product; those service fees should be going towards ensuring the product improves all the time.
Sweeping Support - Help Desk is a must, and a willingness to update the product due to feedback should be obvious.
Uptime - While this is never something thought of when initially deciding to use a hosted software, both the track record of uptime as well as the current capabilities to provide consistent opperating hours is the difference between simply using a service or relying on a service.
Feedback - Feedback is a two-way street, and the service provider is also responsible to give feedback to the end user when needed; updates and big fixes are great, but no notification of these leaves every user in the dark about them.