AI and Customer Experience in the ‘Age of the Customer’

We are in the middle of the ‘Age of the Customer’, where customers are the ones that shape the rules of business.

Image Source: Vic Neverman

This creates an extraordinary opportunity for companies that adapt while threatening the ones that do not. In this scenario, the only thing that brands can control is the Customer Journey, which is the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with a company and its brand.

Image Source: Salesforce

Importance of Personalizing the Customer Experience

Companies are recognizing the importance of delivering a unique experience that helps them stand out from their competition. Some are learning the hard way. Last year United Airlines had a brand crisis, in which $1.4 billion in value was wiped out overnight when a passenger’s experience went viral on social media.

The best brands are the ones that seamlessly control the customer experience while ensuring that the customer never realizes it. But, with so many channels through which customers communicate, it seems like creating a powerful and memorable customer experience is more complicated than ever. In today’s competitive environment, personalizing the customer experience is the number one priority to drive conversion. So how do brands accomplish that?

Image Source: Gartner

Enter Artificial Intelligence

Increasingly, AI is emerging as the best way to offer a truly personalized experience to customers. A Gartner study shows that “By 2020, 85% of customer relationships will be managed without interacting with a human” and that by 2040, “more than 40% of all the data analytics projects will relate to some aspect of customer experience.”

Even though artificial intelligence has been around for over 60 years, it is only now that we are able to use AI to create personalized customer experiences. For decades we’ve provided customers with experiences that were made for the masses and not tailored for the individual. However, recent advances in AI have made it possible for brands to treat customers less like machines and more like people.

recent survey by Accenture found that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that remember them and provide them with relevant recommendations. AI empowers brands by providing them with the required tools to better understand their customers and how they use products. The three most important aspects of AI for customer experience are chatbots, personalization and customer insights. These tools can be used to help brands recognize, remember and provide relevant offers. So, is AI the saviour of brands?

Challenges of AI

Using AI to tailor customer experience is not flawless because there are some growing problems. One of the biggest problems is acquiring high-quality data to train the AI. Several research studies demonstrated that popular data sets used to train image recognition AI included gender biases. For example, a picture of a man cooking would be misidentified as a woman because, in the training data, cooks were women.

Another problem with AI is ‘Explainability’. IBM’s attempt to promote its supercomputer programme to cancer doctors (Watson for Oncology) was a PR disaster, simply because doctors could not trust it. If oncologists had understood how Watson had come up with its answers their trust levels might have been higher. So, what does this mean?

The Future of AI

The future is largely uncharted and will likely continue to change as the technology evolves. In the future, mundane and repetitive tasks such as creating grocery lists or cleaning the house will be automated or done by robots.

Image Source: Gartner

Although the futuristic world of AI may seem far-fetched, it will be here sooner than we think. In the ‘Age of the Customer’, AI may be the best hope for a company to not only create beautiful customer experiences but also set the stage to be future leaders.

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