The other day I was perusing the Insights section of the Perficient website, and I came across a guide that sparked my interest called Five Digital Marketing Trends That Will Impact Your Business in 2018. In it, the authors discuss how personalization will “shape the complexity and magnitude of content development.” This was particularly interesting to me. I started wondering how personalization works. My research took me to artificial intelligence (AI) – everyone’s favorite new buzzword. AI trends are rapidly transforming the customer experience through several means – one of which is personalization.
AI can help organizations understand what customers want, and predict what they will need in the future. It can help companies unlock customers desires, and tie together a seamless experience with one that is relevant to customers. – The future of CX: How artificial intelligence will humanize every customer journey
In addition to personalization, AI applications provide a robust foundation for other CX practices such as customer insight, security and privacy, appeal to emotion, and customer service. We’ll discuss these a bit later but first, let’s talk a little about what AI is.
Artificial Intelligence vs. Machine Learning vs. Deep Learning: Different, But the Same
The relationship between these practices is similar to that of concentric circles; artificial intelligence being the all-encompassing practice that includes machine learning, which includes deep learning.
Artificial intelligence is the practice of machines learning to perform tasks that humans can perform, only faster and more accurately. Machine learning goes a level deeper, allowing the machine to learn from performing these tasks and apply this learning to future tasks. Deep learning takes a step closer into the spooky part of all this, where a machine can recognize objects, make decisions about these objects, and learn, all without the interference of those pesky humans.
Of course, the idea is not for the machines to take over, but rather the machines will assist us in being better at what we do. In this case, what we’re doing is providing better customer experiences.
Applying AI to CX
Companies that can successfully use AI to drive better experiences at each interaction in the customer journey will find themselves winning the hearts and minds of their customers. By using technology to demonstrate empathy, provide serendipity, and respect privacy, these companies will create customer service experiences that are more human than ever before. – The future of CX: How artificial intelligence will humanize every customer journey
There are several areas of CX in which AI is making vast improvements in efficiency, accuracy, and overall customer satisfaction.
Like it or not, the more each of us uses the internet, the more information about our personal lives we leave behind in the ether. A picture of who we are forms through the collection and analysis of our data. The growth of this ‘big’ data is exponential, and the storage capacity for it is nearly infinite. But it’s the processing of this data that leads to the growth in quality and its usefulness to CX.
Your computer’s GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), the heart and soul of your machine, uses a technique called “parallel processing,” which breaks down a process into parts that are executed upon simultaneously at blindingly fast speeds and is cheaper and more powerful than the old method. So, what does all this mean? This picture of who you are is now in high definition. Brands can utilize machine learning to gain a much deeper understanding of who their customers are – down to the freckle.
When this technology is used wisely – and ethically – across all touch points, it can humanize the overall customer experience. It allows brands to empathize with their customers, fulfilling their emotional needs while also fulfilling their more practical, immediate needs. It appeals to their emotions, creating a more memorable experience. And it helps brands understand when to connect as well as when to ease off.
Customer Support – What’s it all a-bot?
A chatbot (or virtual assistant) is a computer program designed to simulate a conversation with humans. They use natural language processing (NLP) – a process in which the computer can understand natural human speech. Chatbots are very efficient and useful for many reasons:
They provide 24-hour customer service
Running any kind of customer service center is costly, especially one that is available 24 hours. Chatbots don’t need sleep, food, or office space. They remain on call, allowing us humans to be human.
They allow humans to focus on more complex issues
Instead of having employees deal with such mundane tasks as resetting a password or checking to see if something is in stock, you can leave that to the chatbots. This frees up the humans to deal with those issues that need a human touch. This also helps customers who have no desire to wait online for 15 minutes for a human customer service rep to become available.
Bots can act as virtual traffic directors.
Bots can triage a situation and direct customers to the proper department or channel. This solves the problem of putting customers through the dreaded multi-department hand-off scenario where they get passed around from person to person and often get dropped.
They are unaffected by the human condition
The bot’s attitude is always sunny. There are no bad days for a bot.
Immediate response time
Bots think at the speed of a computer. Whether it’s directing a customer to the correct department or letting them know that those pants are available in lime green, the entire response time is milliseconds instead of minutes.
Train once, pay once.
A bot’s intelligence will help anticipate specific customer needs by learning from their contexts, previous chat history, and preferences.
As I mentioned earlier, the amount of data collected on our customers and their habits has grown exponentially. AI-enabled analytics can wade through mountains of data quickly and uncover relationships that you might miss or may never have thought to look for. This allows humans to consume and prioritize these relationships instead of getting bogged down in data.
AI-enabled analytics can also make predictions based on these relationships, as well as understand the motivators and road blocks for the customer in the interactions with your business.
Security and Privacy
AI can be very useful in detecting patterns that indicate fraud. And it can help your business react quickly to threats. Additionally, because it is always learning, it can recognize newly constructed threats in an effort to stay ahead of the bad guys.
AI can also help you understand when is the best time or method to contact your customer allowing you to respect their privacy by not over-contacting someone.
As was the case with the mobile revolution, and the web before that, machine learning will cause us to rethink, restructure, and reconsider what’s possible in virtually every experience we build. –Google Design: The UX of AI
Artificial intelligence has gone from fantasy to reality in a short time. Right now, there is a perfect storm of events happening that is thrusting it into our daily lives at an ever-increasing pace – whether you are aware of it or not. AI has skipped right past the ‘nice-to-have’ stage to the ‘adapt-or-die’ stage. The successful company of tomorrow will be the company that gets all hands on the AI deck.
I leave you with two statistics that illustrate my point.
- 85% of the relationship between the enterprise and its customer will be handled without human interaction.
- Between 2012 and 2015, the use of virtual agents increased by about 30%.
Oh, by the way, did I mention that Perficient Digital has an award-winning AI practice?