Our article pick of the week! I believe we are going to see more and more of this.
Forbes: Kathleen Walch, Contributor
Now more than ever companies are turning to technology to help stay connected and engaged with customers. As social distancing has closed many in-person experiences, stores and brands are looking for additional ways to still provide value. Companies all over the world are fighting for customer attention, and they are using technology to discover new ways to get it. As such they are turning to technologies such as AI to help. However, finding sample use cases from a similar industry may be a challenge.
Industries are using artificial intelligence to help organize, improve and streamline tasks such as creating custom experiences, personalized emails, offers, chatbots, and various other hyperpersonalized experiences.
What is Customer Experience?
The customer experience can relate to such a broad range of areas. For instance, experiences with customer support and customer service interaction, from returns to troubleshooting a purchase, to the website experience, messaging, and customized offerings. Although, the customer experience life cycle is much more than this.
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The customer life cycle begins with the first touch or notification, such as a pop-up window or email notification, making a purchase or using the product. It continues with use of the product, or in some cases, having to reach out to customer support. The better the experience the customer has with a brand, the more they will continue using and recommending it to friends and family. This is a large part of the net promoter score that measures the customer experience.
Positive customer experiences help people feel good about their purchase, influencing them to become repeat buyers for that brand. Companies are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence to help achieve positive customer experiences. This means people in marketing departments no longer need to manually segment the audience and push campaigns, personally write messages or handle every customer service message. AI is now able to help with these activities.
Artificial Intelligence is not only being used to understand more about individual customers, but for recording your history and interactions through browsing history, email open history, click through rates and other various metrics. Without AI, companies have to guess which marketing technique is most effective. However, through Big Data and AI analytics, companies can now develop more comprehensive customer profiles by knowing exactly what the customer wants.
With AI, not only can we determine which marketing strategies work best for each customer, we can further understand the customer's specific needs and wants through algorithms that are tracking their interactions and behavior. This helps improve the entire customer experience.
AI Enabled Chatbots
AI enabled chatbots are becoming increasingly popular due to their positive impact in many types of industries. These chatbots have the ability to begin conversations with customers, providing relevant answers to their questions, and can help with every touch point through the whole customer life cycle and purchasing experience.
The chatbot can answer customer questions directly, streamlining the online sales process and resolving problems. Additionally, customers can interact with chatbots when convenient for them, as they are available 24/7. This reduces the wait time to get answers to questions.
In addition, chat bots can be set up to transfer customers to human agents if the customer has a more complex question. This helps speed up the customer support process as a whole.
Using AI to Maximize Sales and Customer Satisfaction
Companies are starting to integrate AI into many areas of the purchase process to help maximize both sales and customer satisfaction. For instance, when customers are shopping online, it is common to see 'recommended' products. By using clustering algorithms, brands are able to provide better recommendations which hopefully increases conversion and sales.
These AI systems are really trying to achieve the same goals of maximizing purchases, sales and customer satisfaction. However, it is not in the best interest of the store to recommend products the customer doesn't really want, as they are likely to not buy it or return it.
Therefore, the goal is to match customers with products the customer is most likely to need or want based around various factors. This is where AI connects with customers on an individual basis to determine these factors though previous communication, referrals, and more. This is where AI really shines.
Concerns over Data Usage and Tracking
The use of AI for powering customer experience offers many positive benefits. According to the National Business Research Institute, "over 62% of businesses planned to use AI for customer service in 2018". This is a large portion of businesses wanting to incorporate AI. While this adds value to the future of artificial intelligence, this type of tailored content and heavy data use is raising concerns for those that believe brands already collect too much data and information.
These are valid concerns that will only be more common with the increase of AI usage. There needs to be a balance between how people feel comfortable with brands using their data and the services and benefits received, compared to when customers feel information is being overused in ways they did not provide consent for their data to be used in that way.
In the end, AI is a powerful tool that companies can, will, and do use. It will increasingly be used to improve customer satisfaction and customer experience.