Chatbots for SaaS: The Perfect Growth and Innovation Tool
It's the golden age of software as a service (SaaS).
The SaaS business model emerged sometime in the 90s, thanks to a little piece of technology called the internet. It is then that some of today's largest companies like Salesforce and Oracle came to life.
The internet revolutionised the way information is exchanged and stored, making deploying and running software online more cost-effective.
Today, with ever faster bandwidth and exponentially more accessible technology, SaaS is more popular than ever.
Can chatbots be the second wind under SaaS' wings, help cut costs and push the model further than ever before into lean profitability?
Chatbots are the perfect SaaS business tool
SaaS businesses would not exist without the invention of the internet.
Over the last 30 years, though, the playing field has been levelled. It is time for SaaS platforms to find a new differentiator, not only against other businesses but also against other SaaS.
Chatbots are the perfect tool to bring that differentiation.
Here are six ways chatbots can positively impact your SaaS business.
1. Satisfy the demand for high engagement
SaaS businesses are notoriously conducive to high engagement. If you work in or own such a business, this isn't news to you.
Prospects and customers alike expect your business to be online all the time, answering questions all the time, providing support all the time. I know I have bigger expectations from a SaaS business in terms of response time than with any other business.
This problem, being online and available all the time, is almost literally why chatbots were invented.
By dropping a (knowledgeable) chatbot on your website or within your platform, you instantly give your audience what they want: help, now.
2. Faster and cheaper customer service
Thanks to a chatbot solution, your customer service team is not just online 100% of the time. It's also answering questions faster.
It's not even about the archaic 'we will respond within 2-3 business days' anymore. It's about responding to your customers' questions within seconds. Most enterprise-grade chatbots can exchange over 150 messages per second without breaking a sweat. That's a lot of helping per second.
Editor's note: though it wasn't a service chatbot, we wrote a little bit about the infrastructure that allows us to reach these silly numbers. Read about our Unilever chatbot.
3. Qualifying leads (and pushing them through the funnel)
Moving away from customer service for a second.
Success in a SaaS model is a numbers game. It's all about efficiency, attracting customers at low cost, driving them down the acquisition funnel, and converting them with as little human intervention as possible.
Any unqualified lead that 'hangs around' not knowing what to do, where to go, or whether or not the software is even right for them is a cash sinkhole.
Chatbots can help with that. With each conversation, your chatbot understands more about the customer and pushes it down the right funnel.
What if it realises your product may not right for them? It can alert your staff not to spend too much time on this particular lead and save everyone a lot of time.
4. Increase conversions (by its mere presence)
Do you know what's a bummer? How some companies take ages to respond to potential customers.
Do you know what's even worse? The realisation that by not responding within a reasonable time, said companies make it exponentially harder to close those deals.
Research from Harvard Business Review shows that the impact of responding to a lead within ten minutes versus five minutes is a 400% decrease in likeliness to close the deal. Insane numbers.
Source: Harvard Business Review
What does that have to do with SaaS? In my first point, I went over how SaaS customers are high engagement customers. Not interacting with them as quickly as possible is going to lose you revenue.
Thankfully, chatbots are speedy and can handle that for you.
5. Keeping a pulse on your customers
Direct access to customers is one of the most powerful aspects of using chatbot technology (and probably my favourite).
The best way to learn about your customers, their habits, and their language is to talk to them. This is common wisdom in the SaaS and startup community. Unfortunately, talking doesn't always scale.
Oh, except with chatbots, of course.
Learn from your chatbot's thousands of monthly conversations with customers and stay ahead of the game. Most SaaS companies start out doing customer interviews, reporting on the specific words they use; and then stop when they hit scale.
If anything, this is when keeping an eye on all of that should become even more important. Keep a pulse on your customers, even at scale, with chatbot technology.
6. Branding and first mover
Finally, being a first mover.
I am always somewhat reluctant to include first mover advantage in a list such as this one. The first mover advantage, which gives the upper hand to the first company to adopt a new piece of technology, doesn't last.
What happens when all SaaS platforms have a chatbot? My sixth point loses value.
Nevertheless, I'm including it in here for a very simple reason: chatbots are super early. There aren't that many SaaS companies leveraging them just yet (we'll look at a few below).
You can still be a first mover. You probably have a couple of years tops, though, so you might have to act fast.
Being a first mover has several advantages beyond just 'being first' and grabbing all the money. Namely, being a first mover offers a branding advantage. Position your company as an innovator in your field and reap the beautiful branding rewards.
SaaS chatbot example and case studies
Now that we know all the good stuff chatbots can do for a SaaS business, let's briefly look at some examples.
Evernote chatbot increases support success by 80%
Evernote is a leading productivity and collaboration SaaS product. With over 200 million users (2016), you can bet they deal with a LOT of support tickets.
Evernote released a chatbot on their Twitter account, hoping it would reduce the time to resolve questions and make their customers happy faster.
Their solution, albeit very simple, quickly proved fruitful. Evernote managed to decrease the number of replies per conversation by 18% and increase the number of customers helped via Twitter by 80%.
RapidMiner chatbot generates 4,000 leads
RapidMiner is a SaaS platform for data scientists. The data science field is booming and, being one of the leading resources out there, RapidMiner get lots of traffic.
They turned to a chatbot to engage anyone who lands on the website. Their leadbot, Marla, pops up and asks a few qualifying questions before handing over to a salesperson.
Their solution got them over 4,000 leads (and counting).
Editor's note: One of our clients, a van leasing company, have so far generated over 30,000 warm leads through their chatbot using the same principle. Though they're not a SaaS platform, you might be interested in seeing the process we took them through to get these results.
HR platform chatbot helps 6,000 companies
This HR platform's name has been redacted under NDA obligations. They are a UK-based HR platform, on which clients host documents, policies, and so on.
They came to ubisend with the idea of creating one chatbot for all their 6,000+ clients. Each of this chatbot's instances would know about the clients' documents and policies, and could answer any questions about them.
It was a fascinating project to put in place, and the chatbot is now rolled out across thousands of clients (and tens of thousands of end users). Read the case study.
Is a chatbot right for your SaaS business?
Given all the advantages listed above, you might want to dig a little deeper and find out whether a chatbot is right for you.
Thankfully, most SaaS businesses are very metrics-oriented. You most likely know your CAC, LTV, cost per support ticket, and all those sweet sweet metrics that make your business tick. This means figuring out whether a chatbot is right for you is just a matter of doing the math.
You will quickly find out that chatbots are not just for large companies. In fact, we've implemented solutions in SaaS businesses with fewer than 15 employees.
When you dig even deeper, you will find that chatbots are not just gimmicky little Facebook Messenger tools. They are real business tools that grow revenue, save time, and positively impact the business.