13 minute read · Published July 13, 2023

Harnessing AI magic: The gift that keeps on giving

Latest Update February 13, 2024

There are two fascinating trends unfolding right now:

  1. AI proliferation: AI tools are popping up everywhere to serve every imaginable use case
  2. Trepid adoption: Individuals’ and companies’ adoption of those tools has been slow and limited

Why is this happening? Market research unpacks some clues:

However you feel about AI, here’s the reality. AI is already all around us. From iPhone recommendations to GPS routing to facial recognition, many parts of our daily life use AI. Over time, AI is sure to become more embedded in our daily lives. Emerging technologies like autonomous vehicles, automated song creation, and automated tax filing show this.

AI might be scary because of its rapid evolution, but there are many ways that we can use AI to improve our personal and work lives. In this article, we’ll get into some background on AI and how we use it at CommandBar. Hopefully, you will finish reading feeling more assured and also excited to try some new tools!

The wild world of AI

AI has the potential to revolutionize the way we work and live, with more and more businesses exploring its possibilities. Let’s take a beat to unpack some of the fundamentals.

What is AI?

AI = artificial intelligence. While the definition is extremely broad, for most purposes, you can think of AI as a box. It (a) takes some input or instruction from a user, then (b) comes up with a response. In this definition, there is no mention of how good the response is.

For many years, computer scientists have been grinding away at AI to get answers that can pass as coming from an intelligent human. With the release of ChatGPT, it became clear to the masses that the technology had reached, if not surpassed, that point.

AI in business and work

Before 2023, few businesses used AI in impressive ways. For tech companies, the promises of AI almost always fell short. Anyone remember IBM’s Watson? For many companies outside the tech sector, AI was not even on the radar.

Fast forward to 2023: AI can be used effectively in virtually every industry across most roles. Some wedding planners use ChatGPT to help brainstorm ideas that satisfy the couple’s wishlist. NBA teams use AI to forecast player production. Accounting departments use AI tools to create spreadsheet formulas and to analyze data. Heck, this article was partially written by AI!

Why we embrace AI at CommandBar

There are five fundamental reasons we embrace AI at CommandBar.

1. Sharpen our skills

While it has always been important to learn how to learn, it is now truer than ever. Adopting AI tools and working on AI help our team stay sharp.

We believe that experimenting with new tools, including AI tools, is a great way to keep leveling up. At the speed of today's tech environment, staying razor-sharp is a non-negotiable. For SaaS professionals, experimenting with AI tools is not a futuristic fantasy — it's a career imperative. We are at the beginning of a very long road. Engaging with AI tools refines problem-solving skills and builds a deeper understanding of emerging technologies. Ultimately, this enables our team to craft solutions that are more user-friendly, efficient, and innovative.

When we got our hands on ChatGPT, it wasn't just about adding a shiny new tech toy to the toolkit. It was about harnessing AI to deepen software engineering skills, learn new ways to resolve customer issues, and improve our writing quality.

In short: AI is not just shaping our products; it's sharpening our people.

In the SaaS landscape, being on the pulse of innovation isn't just a bonus—it's essential. Embracing new product trends as they emerge can be the difference between leading the pack or trailing behind.

Consider a feature as simple as in-app chat. Not long ago, this was a novelty, but fast-forward to today, and it's an expected staple across SaaS platforms. Now we’re in a new wave where AI chat has rapidly evolved and, in some ways, has surpassed in-app human chat. Early adopters integrating in-app AI chat have a leg up, just like customers years ago that implemented in-app human chat. By keeping a finger on the pulse of new products, you don’t just follow innovation; you become an agent of change, ready to drive the industry forward.

When we zoom into the realm of AI, this necessity to stay ahead magnifies. AI is not just a tool; it's a game-changer, continuously unveiling new modes of operation and fresh UX patterns. Machine learning algorithms, for instance, have transformed the way we personalize user experiences. We've seen how TikTok uses AI to suggest the next binge-worthy video based on usage history. They don’t merely react to user behavior – they anticipate it and set new standards for what a tailored UX looks like. It’s created a new way of thinking and interacting with social media. Staying updated with AI propels us to rethink, reimagine, and recreate experiences that feel almost magical.

3. Improve our AI products

Becoming a product connoisseur is a catalyst that propels your own product to remain best in class. By scrutinizing other solutions, particularly AI offerings, we can glean invaluable insights into what makes them resonate with users, which features are groundbreaking, and how they bridge new technology and usability.

Let's take the case of chatbots. Our team did a deep dive into Intercom, Zendesk, and other legacy chat solutions. We then compared the experience with something like ChatGPT. As a result, our team was inspired to elevate our own support services and ultimately came up with the idea for a new product in HelpHub. We saw an opportunity to deploy AI in a way that drastically improved the user experience.

Being open to learning and adapting has helped our team turn observation into innovation. We view product exploration, especially in AI tools, as a strategy — a way of learning and growing. It fosters a culture of curiosity and learning that continually fuels our drive to deliver an AI-powered SaaS platform that's truly best in class.

4. Work more efficiently

There are a few levels to tool adoption:

  • Level 0 – status quo: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. On level 0, we’re doing things the way we always have.

  • Level 1 – plug and play: Say a process has 3 steps. We’ll still do those same 3 steps in the same order, but we will now use a tool to fulfill parts of those steps. Most of the time, this means we are slightly more efficient.

  • Level 2 – changing the rules: Say we have the same process with 3 steps. Now that we have some awesome tools, we might come up with a 2-step process that accomplishes the task in a brand new way.
    “Lucas, an example here would be great.” Say no more! Let’s take the process of ticketizing customer feedback. Typically, this breaks down into three steps: (1) parse the message to determine that it’s feedback; (2) categorize the feedback into bug vs improvement vs feature; (3) create a ticket.
    Imagine a tool, “Ticketize”, that allows you to drop in the customer’s raw feedback, and it generates a ticket. The new process is: (1) parse the message; (2) let Ticketize create a ticket.

  • Level 3 – “Tool, you got it, bro”: Finally, we have level 3, where the tool is responsible for 99+% of the work. The human simply guides the tool to get the job done. For example, with autonomous driving, the human’s interaction might be very limited:

    • Enter the pick-up spot
    • Enter the destination
    • Indicate any preferences (e.g., “avoid the highway”, “skip toll roads”, “drive under 25 mph”)

AI is another category of tool, but it's not just another category of tool. The current impact is huge, and its potential is "black hole"-massive. There are a ton of Level 1 ways to use AI tools, but great unlocks come at Levels 2 and 3.

5. Have fun

Something that goes unsaid is that it is a blast to use AI products. Think about the first time you used ChatGPT. Playing around with AI tools is like a trip to a futuristic playground. Imagine squiggling on a screen and, boom - it's elevated into a stunning sketch. Or how about chatting with a bot that sounds so real, you forget it's the world's most-trained machine… so far? It's just tech, but it feels like magic.

Many of us at CommandBar experiment with AI tools to bring some extra joy, discovery, and surprise to each day. And it is much more enjoyable to work with happy, curious teammates.

Meet our AI heroes at CommandBar

For the sake of getting you some variety, we're including tools we use across coding, image generation, writing, customer support, and general purpose.

The Not-So-Secret Weapon: ChatGPT

Tool overview

What ChatGPT does

ChatGPT probably needs the least explanation of any tool on this list, but we'll cover the basics here. You enter some text, and most of the time, ChatGPT spits out an incredibly intelligent response.

ChatGPT is great at understanding and responding to the things you type or say. It picks up on context (e.g., prior chat messages) and natural language extremely well. Need to brainstorm ideas for your next big project? ChatGPT can toss around suggestions like a creative partner. Want to practice a new language but have no one to talk to? ChatGPT's got your back, and it won't laugh at your funny accent. It's like having a smarty-pants pal in your pocket, ready to chat, help, or inspire whenever you need it. It almost goes without saying, but ChatGPT has clear business impacts, especially when you look into custom GPTs for particular solutions. These personalized versions improve customer service, automate procedures, and provide unique insights, making them essential tools for developing innovative strategies and gaining a competitive advantage.

How we use ChatGPT at CommandBar

There are four buckets to cover for our ChatGPT usage:

  1. Search (goodbye Google)
  2. Copy creation
  3. Debugging code
  4. Generating code
  5. And pretty much everything else

1. Search (goodbye Google): At CommandBar, we've unlocked a new level of efficiency by employing ChatGPT as our go-to search wizard. No more sifting through Google search results and advertisements, clicking into articles, and then returning to the result list. Instead, we pose our queries to ChatGPT, and it rapidly produces precise, tailored information.

2. Copy creation: ChatGPT has become our wordsmith for crafting emails, marketing copy, and customer messages. It's a lifesaver for solving the "blank page" problem. Even when I don't use a word it produces, I find it so much easier to write after seeing its output. The mental process of considering what I like and dislike about its output is more than enough to get me going.

It whips up compelling narratives, persuasive pitches, and customer-friendly communications, all while matching our brand tone or the individual's communication style. Pro-tip: you can feed it your past writing samples that are most "you" as inspiration for tone and style. It's like having an extra copywriter on board, one who understands our voice and can translate complex ideas into engaging copy, helping us connect with our customers and prospects more effectively.

3. Debugging code: Debugging can be the worst part of development, and at times feels like hunting for the needle in a haystack. Pasting in the error message is often enough to make progress or altogether resolve the issue. From pointing out potential issues in our code to offering solutions for tricky bugs, ChatGPT has proven a formidable ally for our developers. It not only speeds up our debugging process but also provides insights that enrich our team's coding prowess.

4. Generating code: Copilot is awesome for code developed in VS Code or Vim. But not all code is created there, especially for the non-Engineering team members. Recently I wanted to write some basic SQL but forgot the PostgreSQL syntax. I asked ChatGPT for help and had a solution in seconds.

We use ChatGPT to help with SQL, Javascript, Python, HTML, and CSS across a wide range of surface areas – dashboard/analytics queries, marketing site code snippets, custom integrations, and much more.

5. And everything else: ChatGPT's role at CommandBar isn't confined to specific tasks. It has integrated into the DNA of our creative and strategic processes. From brainstorming feature ideas to conjuring catchy product and feature names, ChatGPT is our go-to AI resource. I struggle to think of topics where ChatGPT wouldn't help - with the right prompt!

Immaculate Imagemaker: Midjourney

Tool overview

  • Purpose: generating beautiful images from prompts (e.g., "da Vinci style image of someone playing basketball in outer space")
  • Link: https://www.midjourney.com

What Midjourney does

The UX for Midjourney is pretty simple. You enter a prompt. Midjourney produces 4 images. You then have three options for what you want to do with the images (not exclusive – you can choose to do all three):

  1. Upscale: Improve the quality of an image
  2. Variation: Produce 4 new images that are variations of the image you selected
  3. Refresh: Produce 4 new images based on the prompt (unrelated to any of the original 4)

There is a slew of input parameters (like aspect ratio), other commands (like blending images), and more, but this is the core user experience.

How we use Midjourney at CommandBar

We use Midjourney primarily for:

  1. Design inspiration
  2. Marketing assets

1. Design inspiration: When starting new projects, it's common to hit a block. Sometimes the hardest part is getting the first thoughts or drafts on the page. Midjourney is an incredible solution to those "clogs". In just a few minutes, you can generate a slew of images that help get the creative juices flowing. This means getting to the finish line faster while also landing on a better product.

2. Marketing assets: There are countless ways to use Midjourney. At CommandBar, we've found a powerful use case for generating marketing assets. What assets can Midjourney help create? Cover images for blog posts (example approach), inline blog illustrations (example approach), logo design (example prompts), website hero images (example journey), and probably any other image-based asset. It might be obvious, but it's worth pointing out: Midjourney enables our team, especially the design-limited folks like me, to create stunning image assets very quickly. Anyone that has an idea and a few minutes can pair with Midjourney to generate to their heart's content.

Writing Wizard: Jasper

Tool overview

What Jasper does

Recently, Jasper has expanded into an all-purpose AI tool. But many companies primarily use Jasper for marketing purposes. With a few inputs — article description, tone, keywords — Jasper can generate entire paragraphs and sections for an article. You can also give Jasper a prompt (e.g., "paragraph about how we use Jasper at my SaaS company") and let it craft away. A really magical experience is to highlight a chunk of text and give Jasper a command: rephrase, clean up the grammar, make it more eloquent, etc.

How we use Jasper at CommandBar

We now use Jasper for almost everything we do that is related to marketing. Jasper helps our team produce high-quality content quickly. Jasper is an awesome partner for writing blog content. It can help with outlining, idea dumping, and pre-publish final tweaks. We've also started expanding into other surface areas: social media posts, social media responses, outreach campaign copy, newsletter copy, release notes, and even product documentation.

Support Supremo: HelpHub

HelpHub overview

What HelpHub does

Customer support and self-service have traditionally fallen into two lanes: (1) help documentation; and (2) human chat. HelpHub combines the best of both worlds - searchable human-authored docs/FAQs with an AI-powered chatbot. Set up is a breeze - just feed it some content, and – boom – an AI assistant is ready to embed in a web app. The AI accounts for the user's current page, previous chat history, and their specific in-app context. It's like having a ChatGPT that knows your site inside out.

How we use HelpHub at CommandBar

HelpHub has improved our approach to customer support and ticket management. It's become an indispensable resource for us that is always online. Since implementing HelpHub on our own product, we've noticed better trial conversion and lower support ticket volume. There was one scenario where a prospect was grappling with a coding issue while our US team was sleeping. Rather than wait for our support team to respond, they turned to HelpHub. Within moments, HelpHub presented the perfect code snippet, effectively resolving the issue.

Similarly, HelpHub has been great for user education and onboarding. Some of our docs can be quite technical, and our terminology doesn't always gel on the first read. HelpHub produces clear explanations, relevant tips, and even prompts customers to dig into related concepts.

The Extra Engineer: GitHub Copilot

Copilot overview

What Copilot does

If you are a developer, you probably use Copilot or a similar product. Copilot lives in your code editor (supports VS Code and Vim) and can auto-complete your code as you're composing. If you're starting a new chunk of code, you can simply type your intent, and Copilot provides a relevant code snippet. It's like having a coding buddy by your side, constantly supporting your next move.

In this example (screenshotted below), the user typed in lines 1 through 11, and then Copilot suggested lines 12-20. Pretty incredible.

How we use Copilot at CommandBar

Most of our engineers use Copilot whenever they code. Since Copilot integrates directly into the code editor, it quickly feels like a native part of the development experience. Whether constructing new functions or working through basic logic, Copilot often suggests the right solution. Copilot streamlines our coding practices and enhances the productivity of our Eng team, making it an invaluable part of our AI stack.

For our non-Engineers, like me, Copilot is a game-changer. With a basic understanding of Computer Science, you can describe what you're hoping to produce, and Copilot offers an awesome starting point. Instead of countless hours Google-ing, digging through Stack Overflow posts, and crying in frustration, our less technical team is empowered to contribute to producing code when needed.

Bringing AI into your world

As we begin to navigate through the uncharted territory of an AI-fueled world, we must embrace the fact that AI is a present reality. It's emergence and rapid adoption is also a massive opportunity. Companies and individuals who embrace AI are not only empowering themselves with cutting-edge tools but are also aligning with the inevitable future of work and life.

At CommandBar, we've embraced AI and continue to reap its benefits in myriad ways. Our AI stack has become an integral part of our operations. As AI technology continues to evolve, we can only expect the benefits to compound.

If you have any non-technical AI tools in your stack that you love, please share them with us! And if you're looking to add an AI tool to your company's stack, don't hesitate to give HelpHub, ChatGPT, Midjourney, Copilot, or Jasper a shot.

Additional AI resources

We'll keep adding to this list as we discover more. Please share your favorite resources so we can make this as useful as possible!

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