Forging Connections in the Cloud: How SaaS Companies Can Leverage AI to Deliver a Superb Customer Experience

Written by Priya Balasubramanian on Apr 28, 2022

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.”

– Nick Mehta, CEO, Gainsight

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.

Can AI Chatbots Help Reduce Churn In The SaaS Industry?

Written by Emily Peck on Jun 25, 2021

The SaaS market is big and getting even bigger. Fueled by droves of new competitors in already overly-saturated sub-segments (there are 10,000 private SaaS companies alone), it’s expected to reach $164.29 billion by 20221. To reduce churn, and in turn survive, SaaS companies must provide an exceptional customer experience, especially during periods of explosive growth. Increasingly, SaaS providers are turning to AI chatbots to scale the immediate and effortless customer support that B2B customers expect. 

Prioritizing CX can reduce SaaS churn rates

Competition in the SaaS market is insane and churn is one of the most important metrics to track. Acceptable churn rates in the industry are between 5-7%, and yet 30% of SaaS companies reported churn rates have increased in the past year1

We all know the stats around customer acquisition cost compared to retaining a customer. It’s 5-25X more expensive to acquire a new customer than keep an existing one2. This is only compounded by the fact that B2B buying cycles are getting longer and more complex, which makes keeping current customers happy even that much more important. 

In today’s environment, investing in customer experience is one of the key ways to reduce churn. And there’s an added financial incentive: 86% of B2B buyers are willing to pay more for great customer experience companies. If that wasn’t enough, companies that prioritize the CX are almost 6X more likely to convert a new lead than companies that only focus on product and growth3.

Learn more about companies using chatbots for customer service.

How can SaaS companies leverage AI chatbots?

While customer acquisition will always be important, bringing AI into the workforce can help SaaS companies reduce churn and compete on customer experience. The experience when a potential or current customer reaches out with a question or issue is arguably just as critical as creating a frictionless experience with a product or platform: 66% of B2B customers have stopped buying from a company following a bad service interaction4.  

Discover the key questions to ask when scheduling a chatbot demo.

Chatbot statistics prove that using an AI chatbot platform can help SaaS companies provide immediate resolutions to questions and scale if there’s a spike in demand or through periods of tremendous growth. Here are a few key ways that SaaS companies can leverage AI chatbots. 

  • Pre-sales education: Drive engagement with early-stage B2B buyers and encourage them to  request a demo or sign up for a free trial. A pre-sales chatbot on a website can answer questions quickly about pricing, deployment time and process, ROI, etc. Conversations can be easily routed to sales associates if a person has a more complex question.  AI-powered chatbots can also preemptively reach out to see if a customer has a question based on their website behavior. For instance, if a prospect has clicked around the pricing page, a bot can ask if it can answer specific questions about pricing tiers. 
  • Seamless onboarding: As soon as a customer comes on board, an email or chatbot can help introduce them to features and ensure they are set up for success. A step further than tutorials when a person first logs in, an email bot can provide a dynamic experience that empowers a new customer to ask questions along the way.  
  • Frictionless post-sales support: Studies have shown that customer churn can be reduced by 67% if companies can resolve customer issues during the first interaction5. If a customer encounters an issue or needs assistance to troubleshoot a problem, an AI-powered chatbot can provide immediate resolutions without needing to burden a customer success team. Support chatbots could be deployed within a secure portal or via a dedicated support email address. 
  • Assistance with new product features: When a new feature is introduced, a bot can relieve pressure from customer success teams by answering questions on functionality and usage. Additionally, if a customer has yet to try a new feature, a chatbot can proactively reach out at the exact moment of relevance (i.e. the customer is using the product and the feature could help amplify the experience or performance) to drive engagement and long-term loyalty. 
  • Predicting pain points and preemptively intervening: Based on a historical churn analysis, an AI chatbot can predict when a customer is at risk based on behavior, performance or other pain points. This enables a SaaS company to get out in front of issues, and provide the right information or tools that a customer needs to keep them happy and engaged. 
  • Upsell and expansion opportunities: By acting on behavioral and lifecycle data, an AI chatbot can trigger highly targeted upsell campaigns. The bot would engage the customer initially to gain interest before elevating to the right sales associate. 

According to 86% of B2B CMOs, customer experience will be more critical in the industry in the coming years6. As competition heats up, SaaS companies must prioritize support as much as product and innovation. Bringing AI into the workforce is the tool that can empower SaaS companies to compete on customer experience. 

Find out what your ROI will be if you build an AI chatbot. Try our free chatbot ROI calculator.

Are you a SaaS company that needs to reduce churn and improve your customer experience with an AI chatbot? Get in touch today.