Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a world-changing technology, and will be part of every aspect of our lives over the coming decade. According to research from PWC, 52% of companies stepped up their adoption of artificial intelligence in 2020 as a direct result of Covid-19.
How AI shapes our lives remains largely unwritten, but I keep abreast of technology trends. One area where I’m seeing a great deal of exciting development is the customer experience.
Firstly, at the heart of any AI application lies data. And analysing that data is a key way of enhancing customer experience. From buying online to virtual reality, AI enables a deeper understanding of customer needs and wants than ever before. AI can also adapt on-the-fly, offering more personally curated experiences based on data trends.
Another simple effect of the power of AI is bridging language gaps. Imagine wanting to deal with a store or a supplier that only speaks French. Using AI-powered language apps, we can communicate more easily in a live environment and enjoy a wider marketplace with more offerings.
Governments – evidenced right here in Dubai by all the smart government initiatives – can make the ‘customer experience’ better, using AI to streamline paperwork, bureaucracy and response times.
In health care, AI-driven chatbots are providing safe, effective and fast medical care for people in the comfort of their own homes. AI has the power to provide greater access to healthcare services for traditionally underserved people at a more affordable price point.
When dealing with a brand, data can be rapidly gathered using AI tools, and the customer communication experience made better. Issues like leaving baskets full but unpurchased can be pursued with ease, while data on previous purchases can be utilised to make more accurate future purchase suggestions.
Meanwhile, AI-powered ‘chatbots’ are driving a new era in customer experience. These online virtual chat assistants can learn from customers, providing almost fully automated assistance on the sidelines of many a website.
Such AI-driven chatbots help companies increase revenue, boost customer acquisition, optimise the overall customer experience and reduce cost-per-contact. In fact, the conversational AI sector is estimated to mature into a $18.4 billion market by 2026, according to boost.ai.
A Salesforce survey revealed that some 77% of customers say chatbots will transform their expectations of companies by 2024. And pundits suggest automated chat will become the primary channel for customer service in the next few years.
Using data gathered by AI means customer communications will become more personalised too. A weekly email that targets your favourite brands, purchases or services is likely to generate greater interest – and income.
In the fitness sector, AI-powered apps can log all your health data and make recommendations on nutrition, hydration and fitness activities. I’m intrigued by this – as gathering such data could actually increase life expectancy.
Away Travel, which manufactures and sells luggage, is a voracious data gatherer using AI. The company does not sell its products via other channels such as Amazon, as it would lose its consumer data. It says utilising advanced data tools has enabled it to build strong brand loyalty and heightened customer satisfaction.
Even your daily coffee benefits from AI. Starbucks uses a proprietary AI engine, Deep Brew, to learn from its customers, mostly via its in-house loyalty app. Sales have increased over the last two years, and the company even uses AI to make coffee via its Mastrena II drink machines, which also offer tailored beverages to customers.
In coming years, a brand’s competitive advantage will increasingly come from its ability to capture, analyse and use personalised customer data – and by using AI to better understand and optimise the customer journey.
In an ever-increasingly competitive world, what will make a good brand stand out is its ability to truly personalise the customer experience. And AI technologies are driving this, delivering enormous competitive advantages while serving the customer like never before. It’s truly a win-win situation.