Artificial Intelligence (AI) has already made its mark in areas like technology and manufacturing. But it’s also changing how customers interact with brands.
Technology has progressed by such leaps and bounds that we have computers that untangle spoken language, recognize faces, and even turn down our thermostat when we’re away from home.
But what does all this have to do with your customer’s experience? Unless you closely follow tech trends, you might be surprised to learn that AI is already playing a role in customer service, user experience, inventory planning, and other areas.
What AI is Doing for the Business World
First, let’s consider how AI is changing and improving things on the business side. Some of these we already know about — for example, the Internet of Things and its mass of interconnected data-gathering devices. Artificial intelligence-powered systems sort through this data so humans don’t have to (massive cheering). Using the insights from the powerful AI-Internet of Things (IoT) combination, organizations have learned:
- How to Be More Cost-Effective. By using AI to automate routine tasks, businesses save man-hours and can reroute them to more productive areas. It can also help to scale tasks up or down as needed and generally quicken results.
- How to Be Safer. In industries like mining, where machine failures can lead to terrible accidents, AI is being used to predictively optimize maintenance and repair tasks. Fewer breakdowns not only mean less time spent in fixing machines, they mean a safer working environment.
- How to Dig Into Information. By finding and highlighting correlations in customer information, AI is helping businesses better understand and meet the needs of their audience.
- How to Be More Efficient. Using AI-driven analytics programs, companies are able to find and fix productivity drains, optimize inventory ordering and maintenance schedules, and find more effective ways to do other tasks.
In fact, let’s explore this idea of how AI is impacting customer experiences and interactions in more detail.
How AI Is Changing Customer Experiences and Interactions
Really, as marketers and salespeople, this is the meat of the matter: how AI is changing the way we interact with customers. Let’s start with an easy example: search engine results.
While many people know that search results are processed by mysterious computer programs, not a lot of people understand that a significant part of Google’s search engine results are processed by a machine-learning AI system known as RankBrain. This gives people a wider choice of information relating to their search term.
Okay, so that’s a pretty basic example, albeit an important one for SEO and SEM purposes. Here are three more that strongly relate to the customer experience:
- Customer Service. While there’s no real replacement for the human touch when it comes to solving problems. AI programs are already helping to clear away some of the more routine elements of customer service. For example, chatbots are used to answer standard questions and even make recommendations for restaurants, gifts, services, etc.
- Personalized Recommendations. AI is doing its data magic here as well. By analyzing huge amounts of data — both from the customer and from similar accounts — predictive analytics programs make educated guesses about customer behavior.
- Better User Experiences and Interfaces. Apps aren’t just function-oriented any more. For the most part, they’re easy to understand, easy on the eyes, and easy to use. You might even say they’re intuitive. We can’t say it better than Christophe Coenraets, the Principal Developer Evangelist for Salesforce, did in this blog post: “For a company, user experience can be the differentiator between success and failure. We started by making the graphical user experience better, and now, with AI, we take user experience in unexpected places. Now, it’s not necessarily graphical — it’s voice-activated; it’s text-based. It collapses many apps into one seamless experience.”
There are some exciting developments going on in the world of advanced technology. Some AI systems have a sort of basic emotional intelligence that can be used to independently analyze a customer’s response and react accordingly. Advances in natural-language generation can make AI-authored text sound more lifelike. There’s even an AI system in the works that can write patient information in everyday language and suggest treatment plans, complete with links to additional information.
In other words, AI is growing quickly. It’s doing the grunt work, sifting data and uncovering facts and patterns. For customers and marketers alike, this should mean access to a world of information that’s easy to understand and easy to use. To learn more about how AI is applied to the sales process, check out this Absolutdata post.