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This article is by Featured Blogger Abhi Yadav from his blog Forbes. Republished with the author’s permission.
“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” – Steve Jobs
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a game-changer for customer experience. It has the ability to bring unprecedented results in delivering relevancy and individualism while increasing marketing accuracy. It may even help you understand your customer’s needs before they realize it themselves.
If an AI is set up correctly, the customer isn't likely to realize that it is running the show. When done properly, AI has the ability to make the customer feel like they are in charge making their own choices, but in reality, it's a machine learning algorithm that is helping move the decisions along.
Not only can AI understand historical data, but it also has the ability to anticipate future customer needs. It can observe market trends, behavioral patterns and user experience and use these as proactive measures to create a personalized and memorable experience across a variety of channels. This allows the customer to feel like they are being valued and understood, which can increase loyalty and help with customer retention to improve cross-selling and upselling in the future.
Organizations Are Drowning In Data
According to Harvard Business Review Analytics Services (via the Huffington Post), many companies are drowning in their own data. It isn’t a matter of not having enough data but the fact that just 23% of companies are able to act on the majority all of their customer data. This is partially because of disjointed systems and data integration problems. Furthermore, only 13% of companies have a single source of customer intelligence.
Business leaders understand the value of having a single source of customer intelligence, as 73% of leaders agree that having a relevant customer experience is an important part of their company’s performance, and 93% said that it's going to be critical within the next two years.
When asked about common barriers to having a single source of customer intelligence, 56% of those surveyed said that organizational silos are a barrier, 48% claimed that it was caused by lack of integration data standardization and 42% said it was because of data quality issues.
Here are a few different ways your company can use AI to get closer to your customers.
According to Jeff Dean, Google senior fellow at the Google AI blog: "The goal of automating machine learning is to develop techniques for computers to solve new machine learning problems automatically, without the need for human-machine learning experts to intervene on every new problem. If we’re ever going to have truly intelligent systems, this is a fundamental capability that we will need."
AI can be used to optimize data to help businesses understand the customer context. It can be used to mine for insights about customer preferences and needs and then use a variety of methods to create a more personalized customer experience.
Unfortunately, most AI machine learning platforms need to be trained by data scientists in order to be useful. However, data scientists can be difficult to find and hire. According to Gartner, over 40% of data science tasks will be automated by 2020. This will allow more people who don’t have an extensive data science background to be able to use complex models.
In reality, almost every data scientist has to spend hours doing repetitive work like connecting related records and deduping data. Analytics automation can be used to clean and then unify the data so that you have a single customer view that you can use with other marketing systems.
Chatbots are another popular way that companies can use AI to get closer to their customers. While chatbots are not new, the more advanced chatbots are now able to take care of complex inquiries while helping multiple customers at once. One example is Dollar Shave Club, which uses a chatbot to help with customer inquiries. This helps relieve support agents from more mundane tasks and allows them to focus on the areas that need their attention most.
Predictive AI may soon be able to not only predict a consumer’s needs but help the customer by ordering certain products automatically. These AIs, when given permission, will be able to order products and services at the optimal price and ensure that they come with the features and warranties that are needed by the customer.
AI Is The Answer
Steve Jobs was right, you need to get closer to your customers and realize their needs before they do. Using AI, you can create the best actions and then use machine learning to constantly monitor and improve customer communications. This will allow your organization to improve customer retention while enhancing the conversation with the customer at the same time.