It is a digital world indeed, and one in which software, in its various forms, stands as a vital component of daily life. Also known as “on-demand” software, Software as a Service (SaaS) refers to a licensing and delivery model whereby software is licensed on a subscription basis and hosted centrally. A SaaS cloud-based service is accessible through an internet browser, rather than users needing to download and install software on a PC or business network.
Empowering businesses around the globe, SaaS platforms are widely adopted for their accessibility, compatibility, and operational management – whether that is for hosting company-wide meetings and webinars (Zoom), sending and analyzing engaging email campaigns (MailChimp), or even signing legal contracts (DocuSign).
Demand for SaaS-based software or services increased in recent years, as, with the rise of remote working, the COVID-19 pandemic encouraged the use of on-demand, scalable cloud models for businesses to achieve both cost efficiency and business continuity. With the increasing use of smartphones and app-based services, as well as the widespread adoption of the public and hybrid cloud, this burgeoning market is only predicted to grow – while the global size of the SaaS market stood at USD $144.17 billion in 2021, it is forecast to reach USD $703.19 billion by 2030. And with this incredible growth, comes competition and a threat of losing customers if their expectations are not met.
The Evolving SaaS Landscape and The Rising Role of Customer Experience
The scalability of cloud infrastructure has pushed the major pain points of scaling a business from technical issues to ones on the customer side, those related to customer satisfaction and engagement. In this fast-paced industry, creating loyal customers and reducing churn rates with continual subscriptions are top of mind for every SaaS leader.
In this highly competitive era, the SaaS business model requires a new approach to customer service and customer experience. B2B and B2C customers expect quick resolutions to their issues and if their expectations are not met, they are quick to churn to a competitor. Keeping customers happy has never been more important, or harder, which is why increasingly, SaaS companies are leveraging AI-powered virtual agents to automate repetitive interactions.
AI-powered virtual agents offer SaaS companies many benefits, including:
The ability to scale with the business, without the added headcount
With the SaaS model, how quickly a business is able to scale is no longer limited by needing to produce and ship physical goods, such as a company that sells bluetooth headphones.
So what is it limited by? It’s not the product, but it’s interactions with people; both those interested in purchasing a service as well as a company’s current customer base.
While increasing one’s outbound marketing spend can bring more potential customers into the top of the funnel, after that, businesses are limited throughout the rest of the process by both their number of employees and how much support they are able to provide. It isn’t just a question of money, and this is where we hit our first major bottleneck in scaling a SaaS business – it’s time – time to source, onboard and train the correct talent, and familiarize them with the service offerings.
That’s where AI-first customer experience platforms such as Netomi’s customer service chatbot come in – playing a key role in saving valuable agent time that would otherwise be spent triaging client’s and prospect’s questions. Automation of repetitive queries allows them to instead focus their energy on those tasks that are of higher value, carry greater complexity and require more creativity and critical thinking – skills that are vital for members of today’s workforce to flex and hone.
“Technology makes your people more efficient and more effective. It lets you scale across all your customers. But most importantly, it lets you make sure that you’re putting your resources into the efforts that actually have an ROI.”
Offer timely and proactive support to reduce churn and grow revenue
Many SaaS companies offer multiple products, at multiple subscription tiers. AI-powered virtual agents can link to a CRM platform to understand the customer’s history and usage in order to up-sell specific features in the exact moment of relevance to encourage a customer to upgrade. It can also preemptively intervene if a customer is at risk of churning with offers, competitive differentiators or other incentives to keep a customer.
In remote and hybrid work environments, troubleshooting issues are bound to occur – and AI helps support teams and customers deal with these issues swiftly and efficiently.
How can SaaS companies take their support one step further – going above and beyond to deliver an excellent customer experience? Harnessing the power of AI, SaaS customer service can take a more proactive and predictive approach – rather than waiting until a customer reaches out with a query or request, what if customers were alerted to issues before they even become visible (such as: ‘We’re getting a lot of questions about this new feature. Let me show you how it works!’) What if such service, that which is preemptive, proactive and highly personalized, was provided in real-time, and at the exact moment of need? This is the power of AI-powered solutions.
Offer a personalized touch in a competitive market
When it comes to the customer experience, AI is helping SaaS companies meet the levels of personalization that customers have come to desire and expect, and the expectations of SaaS customers are higher and becoming sophisticated and evolving. Research from Salesforce found that 52% of customers expect offers to always be personalized – this is up from 49% in 2019.
AI powered chatbots are able to tailor the interaction based on customer profile and behavior. Such a chatbot can demonstrate that it comprehends prior interactions and customer preferences – noting, for instance, that a customer has asked about subscription options for students in a past inquiry. Might they be interested in a company’s special offer for the upcoming new semester?
How SaaS Companies Can Leverage AI to Conquer New Heights
For SaaS companies, helping businesses and individuals maintain their productivity and thrive in today’s digital-first environment is the ultimate end goal. How can these companies successfully retain their customers, turn them into raving fans and help them to get the maximum value out of the SaaS solution, all while growing their own businesses? A little extra help from AI will make a big impact in this area, especially as demand for SaaS products only grows. In this fast-moving industry, it will be those businesses that integrate AI into their technology stack that will forge ahead, seamlessly scaling their operations while focusing on maintaining long-term relationships with their customers.