AI has changed (and will change) the Customer Experience. How and why? Today, the use of Artificial Intelligence tools is increasingly widespread and applied in multiple sectors.
We can say that the success of AI is also due to the growing need for companies to build more customer centric, and above, all personalized strategies.
In this post, we will define artificial intelligence and analyze its possible applications in marketing. Finally, we will examine the role of AI in the customer experience, which has become a fundamental support in the relationship between brand and customer, with a focus on customer service.
What is artificial intelligence
According to the definition from the Osservatorio Artificial Intelligence del Politecnico di Milano, AI is a branch of computer science that studies hardware and software systems that have the capabilities of human beings and are able to independently perform defined tasks and make decisions that are usually entrusted to humans.
The human capabilities that artificial intelligence systems have can be divided into:
- Natural Language Processing, for understanding and processing language;
- Machine vision, for understanding and processing images;
- Predicting and decision making, the ability to make predictions and decisions;
- Acting and automating, the ability to autonomously perform actions and automate processes and activities.
Therefore, it is clear that Artificial Intelligence tools offer excellent opportunities in multiple contexts and sectors, starting with marketing strategies.
Artificial Intelligence Marketing is developing from AI; this is marketing that exploits the potential of AI systems, such as data analysis, for example, to interact with customers and create personalized communications.
As we have already mentioned in a previous post on the marketing trends of 2021, there is a growing need for brands to put humans and their needs at the center. All of this translates into personalization strategies that are aimed at improving the relationship with the customer, making him feel unique.
From these premises, we will collect the main applications of AI for marketing strategies and customer service.
AI and Customer Experience: a look at AI Marketing
AI tools can be used to perform and support numerous marketing activities, which are changing the development of a marketing strategy.
So, what are the main fields of application of AI in marketing?
Artificial Intelligence is proving to be a great ally for content marketing, both in terms of analyzing and finding ideas for content, as well as for creating it.
In fact, AI tools are able to analyze Google Trends to find content ideas that are in line with trending topics and even recommend the most effective SEO strategies and keywords to create relevant and quality content.
As we mentioned in a previous post about copywriting, the use of AI for writing content and macro and micro texts is gaining momentum. In fact, according to a recent analysis by Persado, a leader in the field of AI content generation, 73% of marketers plan to integrate artificial intelligence into their business creative processes.
Lead generation and lead nurturing
Artificial intelligence can be a great support in lead scoring, the activity of ranking potential leads based on the company’s perceived value. Automating this process through AI saves time and optimizes all related activities to transform leads into customers.
In addition, there are AI tools that can perform lead nurturing activities. Examples are chatbots and virtual assistants that are able to predict the needs and interests of leads and automatically send personalized messages, so as to engage the lead and accompany him through all the stages of the funnel.
Conversational commerce, or the set of processes and technologies that allow users and brands to interact through chatbots and voice assistants, has paved the way for new ways of purchasing based on more direct and personal communication.
As Shopify points out, conversational commerce facilitates the consumer’s buying process, and it enables brands to automate customer service, optimize communications (such as purchase confirmation or shipping notifications), propose other products or services, and interact in real time with the consumer.
Artificial Intelligence, therefore, helps reduce the distance between the consumer and the purchase.
AI advertising and campaign optimization
AI is also revolutionizing advertising. AI tools, in fact, make it possible to optimize advertising campaigns in terms of duration, costs, and the methods to be used. Intelligent systems are also able to identify and create ads by analyzing the behaviors of the target audience, taking into account factors that humans would not be able to identify.
Moreover, as we have already anticipated when talking about content generation, AI’s ability to produce text can be used to generate text ads that vary depending on who is seeing them.
In conclusion, we are in front of tools that allow us to improve the performance of advertising, optimizing its content, budget, targeting, and distribution channels.
Recommendation systems are now widely used and very important applications, because they make it possible to support the user in choosing products, services, and content.
Recommendation systems based on Artificial Intelligence for e-commerce, such as Recommendations AI designed by Google, make it possible for companies to offer an increasingly personalized shopping experience, proposing products based on the analysis of the user’s search behavior.
Two other interesting examples involving the use of recommendation systems are represented by:
- Youtube, which leverages a Google Brain system with the sole purpose of suggesting new and relevant content based on the channels followed and the videos the user has watched;
- Netflix, which leverages machine learning and algorithms to suggest content that might interest the user. This is done through the analysis of explicit data (such as favorite lists or user ratings) and implicit data based on behavior (e.g. series and episodes watched in a given time frame).
The use of recommendation systems is bringing great results. Just think that the choice of 80% of the content to watch on Netflix is based on recommended shows.
Therefore, we can say that all these activities, supported by AI, directly and indirectly affect the whole customer experience. For this reason, we’ll look at the use of AI for the customer experience, focusing on customer service.
AI and customer experience: what’s changing?
As we have already anticipated, brands are increasingly moving towards a data-driven approach, with the aim of offering a personalized customer experience.
As we all know, there are many factors and activities that make a customer experience effective, including customer service.
Faced with consumers who are increasingly eager to receive immediate and detailed answers to their questions, companies are betting heavily on artificial intelligence.
AI tools, in fact, can come into play in all the activities that concern customer support.
What, then, are the currently most used ones?
- Virtual assistant
Chatbots can be used to quickly respond to simple requests and guide the consumer in resolving a problem through content (e.g. Guides) and if they fail to give a satisfactory answer, they can put the consumer directly in touch with a human operator.
Chatbots can be integrated within the company website, or in social channels (e.g. Facebook Messenger), thus expanding the possibilities of communication between consumer and brand.
According to research by Nielsen for Facebook IQ, 53% of people are more likely to buy from a company with which they can communicate through instant messages. This figure confirms the usefulness of artificial intelligence in customer service activities.
However, chatbots have limitations in handling more textually complex requests or multiple requests at once. And it is in this context that companies are increasingly relying on virtual assistants.
Virtual assistants are more advanced AI solutions than chatbots, for several reasons. First of all, they have the ability to learn and interpret the context in which the conversation with the user takes place. This means, for example, that the virtual assistant is able to understand requests even if they have typos, as opposed to the chatbot that would not be able to understand and respond.
In addition, thanks to sentiment analysis capabilities that take into consideration the message sent, virtual assistants are able to interpret the user’s state of mind and respond in the most effective way. A feature that chatbots still don’t have.
The benefits of AI for the customer experience
When it comes to drawing conclusions about the use of AI to improve the customer experience, the benefits become apparent.
From a marketing perspective, AI easily enables the goal of personalization, establishing a unique relationship with the customer through completely tailored offers and communications.
As far as customer service is concerned, thanks to AI, waiting and problem-solving times can be reduced. In addition, the data collection and analysis capabilities of AI tools make it possible to anticipate customer requests and offer more effective and satisfactory answers.
All of this translates, of course, into increased customer satisfaction, whose needs are placed at the center of the company’s goals, and therefore into increased customer retention.
From the company’s point of view, artificial intelligence is a great support not only for marketing activities, but also for managing business processes and infrastructure.
In fact, machine learning-based tools are widely used in the water industry for predictive infrastructure maintenance and risk prevention. This allows providers to monitor assets remotely, optimize maintenance costs thanks to AI’s predictive capabilities, and efficiently organize field work.
In conclusion, we can say that although AI is seen as a threat because it acts as a replacement for humans, it actually proves to be an indispensable support for a company that wants to keep up with new consumer needs and offer innovative customer experiences to stay competitive in the market.
Moreover, as we just saw in this post, AI is becoming a key tool for building unique relationships with customers, making communications more effective and humanized through personalization.