The year 2018 has been the year of artificial intelligence (AI). What was until recently just an emerging trend, has now established itself to the extent that it is already hard to imagine a work life without AI-driven applications. Chatbots—one of the more popular applications of AI —have become ubiquitous, and every SaaS company has jumped on to the AI and machine learning (ML) bandwagon. Freshworks went a step further and launched a broader AI-driven customer engagement platform, Freddy, that works not just as a chatbot but assists users across all channels of engagement.
As we step into 2019, Artificial Intelligence will be intertwined with nearly everything. From being a great-to-have that SaaS companies could boast about, features that automate tasks using AI have evolved into a need-to-have today.
If you’re a SaaS provider, there’s no way you can afford to miss the AI wave. Here’s why:
1. We are now in the era of self-service
DIY is making its way into the SaaS world. Customers no longer reach out to customer support executives for every little question they have. They prefer to parse through self-service channels to find solutions to their glitches, and AI tools are ideal for this. AI-driven chatbots and helpers can converse with customers proactively and assist them with sifting through the flood of information on the internet. And in cases where self-help portals can’t independently solve the customer’s problems, these AI-driven assistants direct customers to human agents. Moreover, they can supply the agents with data and information about the case before the agent speaks to the customer, so the human agent can take over seamlessly.
2. Personalization is the new secret sauce to success
Customers are increasingly leaning towards self-service, but when they do interact with human agents, they want to have richer conversations. So, customer support executives are having to equip themselves with historical data and context about the customer before speaking to them. AI tools are a boon for this. Artificial Intelligence can tie multiple silos together and give SaaS companies a 360 degree view of the customer. AI tools can also crunch customer data to gain insight into customer behaviour, predict trends, and plan their service offerings accordingly. Moreover, they can do what human executives can’t, i.e., be with the customer all day, and across all channels of engagement. By virtue of this, SaaS providers also have access to real-time data about the customer, and can use this to engage with customers proactively.
3. Automation technologies are everywhere, and are here to stay
Automation isn’t a fad that’s going to die down soon. Revenues are growing steadily, and Gartner analysts say that just two years from now, 30% of all B2B companies globally will use AI to augment at least one of their primary sales processes. AI may take on multiple avatars and morph into something entirely different from what we see today, but automation has cemented its place. Some tasks may get automated immediately while some may take years, but it will happen in some form or the other.
4. Talent is getting harder to find, and has to be optimally utilized
Today, irrespective of their role and responsibilities, employees spend a lot of time on mundane tasks. When it is already tough to find and retain talent, companies have to see that employees have good reason to work there. Companies need to make work interesting and challenging, so employees look forward to their jobs. Moreover, they need to use human resources efficiently and see that time and resources aren’t wasted. AI can make this happen by taking over multiple robotic tasks. By adopting AI technology and automating tasks, companies can ensure that employees spend their time on tasks that are actually challenging and interesting. Automating tasks will also allow employees to focus on the big picture, strategise, and engage their minds creatively.
5. It’s time to play the scale game in the SaaS world
The SaaS world is now at an inflection point, ready to take off. The focus is shifting from getting customers on to the SaaS bandwagon, to scaling up operations. SaaS players now have to put their energies behind marketing their products better, keeping their customers happy, and maximising their ROI. SaaS providers are now looking to scale their operations, and AI-based tools are critical for this. AI-driven software programs can help companies study historical data and predict upcoming trends. They can, for instance, project demand, and assist in allocating budgets, helping companies plan their work efficiently.