The customer experience has been significantly impacted over the past few years primarily due to the availability of AI technologies. The ability to analyze both historical and nearly real-time data provides a better understanding and keeps up with the changes in customer demand.
The Starbucks mobile application uses 400,000+ variables weekly to provide tailored messaging to customers. The results provide individuals with offers based on spending habits, and past purchases but also adjusted to changes in recent buying habits. Individuals can receive notifications when they are near Starbucks stores tailored to availability, time of day, and location.
This experience, also known as hyper-personalization, allows brands to touch every customer with an individualized set of variables unique to that individual. The use of AI technologies is used to consolidate and synthesize data from over 140,000 data sources including multiple browsing sites, purchase history, profile information, location, sentiment, rewards, and preferred communications channels.
Early this year, Clootrack published a thought leadership report titled ‘Customer Experience Experts Reveal Their CX Challenges and Actions’. In consolidating feedback from more than 102 Customer Experience leaders, the top three (3) challenges listed were:
- Brands are not capturing relevant data & insights
- Lack of a customer-first mindset
- Breaking down organizational siloes
AI technologies are oftentimes now expected in the retail industry. No longer a trend, AI is needed when specifically connecting with customers in a more deliberate way. Yet, AI technologies were not a common theme among the respondents when outlining ways to improve the customer experience. Only four (4) referenced AI.
Balancing AI & Human Touch
Lori D. Smart Senior Business Development, Cogito Corp. Major challenges are – Making it easy for customers to communicate how they want and when they want; No longer competing for the best experience in the industry but now among all industries; Improving the employee experience; Balancing AI and the human touch; Avoid working in silos and looking at how CX is measured. Over the last 19 months, there has been a shift in both customer and employee expectations. Companies have pivoted to assemble a remote workforce while balancing the ever-changing expectations of the service customers expect today.
Use of AI Tools for User-Generated Content
Alon Ghelber CEO PR Soprano. To better understand the customer experience, brands should stop asking questions to their customers. They should also stop asking customers to perform feedback-related tasks, like filling out long and annoying surveys. Instead, they should start listening to what consumers are saying on social media and online reviews using dedicated AI tools for user-generated content (UGC).
Remaining Relevant with Hyper-personalization
Lance Moncrieffe AI Expert Practices Leader, Cognizant. New data and AI-driven methods are needed to engage and influence today’s sophisticated and socially hyperactive consumers. To remain relevant, brands need to provide new value for existing customers with elevated and rewarding experiences across all touchpoints, while acquiring new ones with contextually tailored precision. Hyper-personalization moves an enterprise from targeting segments of its consumer base, to surgically targeting individual consumers, and wowing them with signature experiences at high-value moments.
Melissa Drew Associate Partner at IBM. The consumer must understand how to feel comfortable when their data is used and how the AI solution is making decisions. As more consumers become data literate, there is a realistic expectation, that consumers will begin to demand more transparency from the Brand. In the overall consumer journey, I envision the following phrases: ‘See Me, Know Me, Understand Me, and Show Me. We are just starting to fully realize the ‘Understand Me’ phase of the consumer.
AI technologies enable brand professionals to analyze petabytes of customer-related information (1 petabyte = 1 million gigabytes) to derive the actionable insights needed to engage the customer more thoughtfully. AI technologies are the differentiator needed to understand and engage with the newest generation of customers who grew up online. Examples, where AI technologies enhance the customer experience and can improve the Brand-Customer relationship include:
- Personalized recommendations
- Direct mail or texts tailored to their buying habits
- Individualized rewards
- Generated decision-based customer insights
- Online chatbots
- Predictive analytics to stay ahead of customer trends
In conclusion, if Brands are not fully embracing AI technologies to listen to their customers or analyze data & trends, are they already falling behind?