When AI Meets CX: The Customer Wins in a SaaS-driven Enterprise

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Generative AI is a long-term technology advancement that will dramatically transform how business is conducted. As it approaches the mainstream, discussions have reached a fever pitch with everyone wondering how it will impact their day-to-day lives, both positively and negatively.

First and foremost, to those who believe AI is going to take over the world or that it’s going to eat software, and that all developer and engineering jobs will be wiped from the earth – it’s not going to happen.

From a customer experience (CX) standpoint, with AI the customer wins. AI is only going to make your interaction with a brand better. Better for you and better for them.

AI’s Influence on CX

When considering the future trends that will impact how SaaS tools are used, it strikes me that AI has the potential to immensely improve customer experiences and people’s working lives.

CX benefits of AI certainly extend to our personal lives too. I, for example, have a house with four teenagers. Because of this, I added smart devices that ensure that the doors lock within 10 minutes of someone leaving the house. If I didn’t, the doors would never be locked. I also know if behavior patterns change. Is someone coming or going at a different time? Are doors open or unlocked at odd hours. The house and its systems know me and know when my behaviors change.

Other smart devices that people leverage to improve their everyday lives and work smarter, not harder, include robot vacuums, washing machines that alert you when the cycle is complete, security systems that recognize the entire family — from your kid to the family pet — and smart speakers that can play your favorite music in the context of time of day and day of week.

Yes, AI today supports many tasks. It has not quite reached the level of “changing the world” that many fear and others hope for, and it’s not going to rip and replace the way these experiences occur all together — but — the influence is tangible. And growing.

Let’s consider, in the CX realm, the positive influence AI can have on product purchases and subscriptions. Customers will gain access to a more valuable collective product set because software will advance and roll out to market faster. Product teams will be able to ship more reliable products more safely and quickly to customers. And AI will give analysts a more holistic view of customers’ needs and product experiences, in order to better meet those needs and improve experiences.

AI + SaaS Still Needs the Human Element

Before an idea can come to fruition, and for innovation to happen, someone has to come up with that idea. ChatGPT, and relevant generative AI solutions on the market today, are only as intelligent as the data that has been funneled in. If you ask the platform to shed light on future trends, it can’t do that.
For example, ChatGPT can tell a marketing or sales professional what Salesforce application they should leverage to improve their work flow, which is great, but it can’t tell them how future ideation of the application should be implemented to maximize your time and effort.

The Dawn of AI in Sales and Marketing

Every brand says that if they aren’t already leveraging AI, they plan to do so. At this point in time, though, we have only reached the dawn of AI’s potential. Many people, as I noted above, are concerned about its power. Disruptive tech tends to elicit this type of reaction. There’s a precedent: when Salesforce launched its customer relationship platform as the first SaaS solution on the market in 1999, and when the cloud was first introduced in 2006 when Amazon Launched AWS, people were scared of their potential and the risks that came with them. How could you host data in the “cloud”… how could that possibly be safe?

AI is not something to fear in the sales and marketing world, but it is definitely something to study and sample as brands figure out how to effectively and consistently leverage AI capabilities. In a recent Boston Consulting Group (BCG) survey of more than 200 global CMOs, BCG reported that, “70% of survey respondents said that their organizations already use GenAI, while another 19% are testing it. Applications include core marketing functions such as content generation, insight generation, and market segmentation. The greatest area of focus so far is personalization.”

As AI becomes more sophisticated, I do think that it will be equipped to create more personalized and improved customer experiences. For example, that really smart customer support agent who is helping you extend a platform by configuring a workflow or writing a snippet of code may just be generative AI. And it may not just oversee a proposed workflow or code snippet to solve your problem, it may understand the context of your problem, your recent behavior and the product set you own, and offer you a better solution that solves a problem or expedites a process in a way you never could have imagined.

Looking ahead, it’s clear we’re on a trajectory toward an immersive AI world. The range of applications for AI in business is vast. An AI future is one that ushers in the opportunity to bring immense value to organizations and their customers.

Ed Frederici
Ed Frederici is an experienced CTO with a proven track record of execution-focused leadership and an extensive background bringing start-up technology companies to fruition via strategic and tactical planning. Since joining Appfire, he has played an instrumental role in building and expanding its portfolio, and successfully integrating new apps and solutions via acquisitions. Ed previously served as CTO for Salesforce Marketing Cloud (previously ExactTarget), Terminus, Cheetah Digital and Pacers Sports & Entertainment.

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