AI is Your Customer's New (Invisible) Best Friend

Posted by Victoria Arrington | 06-Apr-2017 16:50:20
Data can only become truly powerful when it is not just merely tied to personas, but to individual people.

However, it is crucial to find the right balance of personalisation. Do too little, and your company is just one amongst many. Do too much, and the customer feels like they are under microscopic scrutiny – and they could actually end up viewing your company as an intruder rather than as an ally.

AI can deliver a level of personalised service that not only maintains that essential balance, but also does it at scale - all with seamless ease. Here's how.

Why do you shop online?

Is it convenience? Selection? To save money?

It's probably all the above – each one of those are huge consumer advantages. And with these factors in play, why would you ever bother going into a retail store – what’s the pull?

Of course, there is the tangibility factor – a play on the senses that only an in-person visit can deliver (for now). But there is something else beyond that. Why do we go to the Apple store? Most of us can come across an iPhone if we want, and with little effort. But, how often do we get to go through the modern glass doors, play with a variety of sleek and elegant devices, and walk out with a white box that proudly announces our new purchase to the world?

That is why people go to a truly great store – an irreplaceable experience. We all want to feel that euphoria – the feeling that what we just purchased has not only erased our frustrations, has also finessed our lives; and that the experience of finding the solution was just as good as the solution itself.

Until recently, this was a USP of physical stores – eCommerce simply couldn’t compete, end of story. Consumers would only personally interact with an eCommerce store when there was a problem – creating all sorts of negative connotations. But, with AI – powered personalisations, there is a fresh new opportunity for an 180° turnaround of this perception. Retailers can capitalise on this consumer craving by not just giving them a great product, but by building a solid personal relationship with their customers.

Personalisation on a Tightwire

However, having the right balance of personalisation is crucial. Do too little, and your company is just one amongst many – a customer will only choose your brand for the reasons you don’t want them to. You were the cheapest - or worse, just a placeholder until they put some effort into seeking something else out. Go too far, and the customer feels like they are under microscopic scrutiny – and can actually end up viewing your company as an intruder rather than as an ally.

Having the right balance of personalisation is crucial. Do too little, and your company is just one amongst many. Go too far, and the customer feels like they are under microscopic scrutiny – and can actually end up viewing your company as an intruder rather than as an ally.

So, how do you find this balance? You must choose your touch points with very precise care.

One size fits all marketing went the way of the Dodo a long time ago, and persona-based marketing is now on the way out too. No two people will come to a buying decision in the same way. A recipe of intelligent data and analytics will show you the path to what your consumer needs and wants are. This information is no doubt useful when parachuted above certain personas; but it only becomes truly powerful when those personalisations are not merely tied to just personas, but individual people. When combined with AI, this data can be precisely tailored to the needs of each and every customer – and then comes their surprise, their delight – and a bond develops between them and your product/service. They are now reached in the way they want to be reached, and at scale - all powered by AI.

Having an Invisible Friend

The very best version of AI is the invisible kind – and this is vital. Think about it – you probably hate feeling like you’re talking to a robot. Have you ever had to deal with an automated phone system that kept giving you the wrong answer to a simple question? It’s so frustrating – and your company should never be viewed as something frustrating in the consumer’s mind. Frustration = avoidance = lost revenue.

What your customer needs is a pleasant, delightful experience that exceeds their expectations. It’s just that simple.

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

― Maya Angelou

If you deliver a delightful experience to your customers, they will remember it with sunshine in their mind. They will remember how your company treated them – how you made them feel, making their problem even easier and to faster to solve than they ever expected. Unbeknownst to them, this was all done by AI, at a rate of speed and personalisation that a human could never have kept up with.

Lean On Me

"Once a customer is on a good platform, it's very hard to go anywhere else.” 

- Alexander Davidge, Head of Business Architecture and Strategy Development, Bupa, at IGNITE June 2016

It’s true. Once a consumer sees your product/service as their go-to solution, they are with you – they are a part of what you're doing now. They no longer have the anxiety that comes with that frustrating problem they were trying to solve – they know that you will take care of that, so they don’t have to.

And you need to make sure that’s always true.

There may be foibles along the way, sure – but they need to be for minutes, not hours. Black Friday is coming? You must be prepared for a surge of customers, otherwise you will find yourself drowning in a surge of complaints (not to mention bad press).

A boom of customers should always be a great thing – it means more revenue, more exposure, and more growth. But for an unprepared system, that success can turn dark very quickly - perhaps never to be replicated, due to a loss of consumer trust.


Above: The most dreaded sight on the internet

Also, your company’s reactions to insights need to instantaneous and seamless, or all your efforts will be for nought. You have no doubt considered numerous touch-points for your personas. Is your data instantly and effectively telling you if your touch-points are succeeding? For those that have proven sucessful, have you used that information to create very personalised interactions, with an authentic human touch? If so great – and the key to successful expansion is replicating that authentic human touch at scale, instantly and seamlessly; and making that happen is where AI comes in.

It’s Already Happening

It’s truly exciting to see technologies like this finally take flight; after all, AI was mainly seen as more Sci-Fi than reality until recently. And this is only the beginning.

There is so much more to explore. For instance, you probably experience AI all the time on the web; and if it was done well, you didn’t even realise it. But, pulling back the curtain, how did these companies create this seamless experience for you? What technology made it work so perfectly? How did they transition their teams and their customers making this fresh innovation into their greatest ally?

So, how can you make friends with AI?

Just Google it – at the London Excel (for free)

AI’s amazing potential for creating a great (and highly personalised) customer experience is far beyond what can be captured in a single article. To really learn about it's amazing capabilities, one must experience it in-person. There are only a few places where you can do this – and see why it’s something you can’t wait to share with your customers.

The best place to meet your own personalised AI assistant is at Google Cloud Next - the first major Google event in London. If you want to come and see it for yourself, just click here so I can send a (personalised, of course!) invite your way.

Topics: Thought Leadership

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