Chances are that once you’ve added Artificial Intelligence (AI) capability to your SaaS software product that your customers are dealing with some human impact of using this new capability. Software implementations have always had an impact on how people work and interact, but your AI software capability is likely to have a more significant and profound impact.
If your customers have a better understanding of what impact to expect and how to manage it or capitalize on it they should have better success with your software, which is one of your main goals.
Several recent articles and surveys indicate that AI can have a profound effect on how employees perform and view their work and work interactions and the effect may be positive or negative or both.
For example, PWC has gone through an up-skilling process recently for many of their employees so they are more technology and analytics savvy. Robotic process automation for financial audit work is one of their areas of focus. This allows employees to focus less on collecting and organizing audit data and more on higher level of analysis. In this case the impact of AI has been positive resulting in higher employee retention and better productivity.
In predictions by Gartner, 69% of what a manager does will be automated in the future. Does that mean 2/3 of managers are out of a job? Maybe, but more importantly it means that the nature of the manager’s work will change substantially. In this case managers who are good at and like the new type of work focused much more on coaching and soft skills will be happy with the changes. Helping managers adapt to the change will be a significant leadership challenge. Another perspective on this is that a recent Oracle/Future Workplace survey indicates that 64% of employees would trust AI over their managers indicating that employees will likely readily accept the change.
These are examples of the profound change that likely will come as a result of AI implementations. Some of the things that need to be assessed by your customers as part of using your software may include:
- Will needed job skills change?
- Will certain job functions become obsolete?
- Will job structures change?
- Will formal and informal power structures change?
- How will they get employees with the needed new skills?
- What level of re-training is possible?
These aren’t easy questions and they need to be answered by your customer’s leadership team. But I believe that you, as the software provider can and should help them so that they are more successful.
Three important areas to think about relative to helping your customers deal with changes include:
Understanding the Likely Impact to the Business
- Learn from early customers
- Include the human impact as part of product design process so it is understood early on
- Detecting potential bias in AI solutions
How to Handle Changes, Risks and Opportunities
- Learn about and incorporate industry best practices
- Develop your own best practices unique to your software
Communicate with your Customers
- Make it part of your on-boarding process
- Give appropriate level of detail throughout the sales and on-boarding process. Proactively provide the information when it is useful, not too early or too late in the process.
- Have the right staff available who understand the issues and opportunities and potential solutions and are skilled in change management. This may impact the type of skills you need in customer success.
For example, Forrester talks about the impact that AI has already had on the future of contact center staffing and provide ideas on how to address that. This is exactly the type of best practice information that customer support software providers should be providing their customers with.
If you proactively provide information, best practices and creative solutions and provide the information at the right time via people who have the soft skills to communicate it effectively, your customers will be more successful navigating the changes that will make them more successful using your software. Remember that the changes may be perceived as positive or negative and it is just as important to capitalize on the positive aspects of the changes as it is to neutralize the negative.