The popularity of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology has grown exponentially in recent years. According to Gartner, a research and advisory company and a member of the S&P 500, Artificial Intelligence will be one of the top five investment priorities for more than 30 percent of Chief Information Officers by 2020, as they find more ways to include it in their digital business strategies.
Gartner also predicts that AI technology will be pervasive in almost every new software product and service by 2020. Even now, from marketing, to retail, to software development and product design, Artificial Intelligence has become increasingly useful for improving products and services which ultimately improves customer experience.
So, in what ways exactly does artificial intelligence improve customer experience? Here’s a few.
With the help of Artificial Intelligence, retailers like Amazon, Wal-Mart, Nordstrom, and streaming platforms like Netflix, Spotify and Apple Music are able to provide one-on-one services to their customers. Using AI algorithms that feed on historical data (previous searches, time spent on a product page, preferred genre of music or video content, etc.), these companies are able to streamline each customer’s experience to the point of uniqueness, where what customer A sees/gets is considerably different from what customer B and C see/get.
Even social media platforms like Facebook (and by extension, Instagram) use artificial intelligence algorithms to serve their users with relevant ads. This way, the customer is more inclined to patronise and retain the product or service because it offers exactly what they like and are looking for.
These companies employ the aid of smart automation processes like WorkFusion’s to automate certain process. This allows machine learning algorithms feed on the data given off by a customer over time and then produce predictions based on that customer’s historical data. As the customer makes more choices, the algorithms better understand the customers behaviour and then tailor their experience accordingly.
American department store, Neiman Marcus, deployed AI technology in its Snap. Find. Shop feature which lets customers take pictures of items they might want to purchase and then have the app suggest similar items from the store’s inventory to them.
North Face, the American outdoor retailer, uses IBM Watson to create personalised shopping experiences for its customers. The website uses a customer’s answers to a series of questions to refine product selections, making the customer’s choice easier.
Another example is KFC’s partnership with Baidu, the Chinese search engine company, to develop a restaurant where customer orders are predicted with AI facial recognition software. Using data like gender and facial expression, among others, the program provides menu recommendations to the customer, it then saves their orders so that customers can get recommendations based on them when they return.
Improved customer service
Another way artificial intelligence has impacted the customer experience is by improving customer service. One of the easiest ways to keep customers happy is to just to give them what they want, when they want it. Extra services are just that – extra services – icing on a cake. When businesses do their primary duty well, everything else sorts itself out, as they cater to their customer’s primary need..
One company doing this is Standard Bank. By integrating Robotic Process Automation (RPA), the bank has been able to improve its customer onboarding process. In a little over three months, Standard Bank’s customer onboarding time fell by over 6,600% so that customers can now open online accounts with an overdraft within 5 minutes. In the past, this process could have taken as much as 23 days.
In essence, what are we saying?
Integrating AI into customer service eliminates human errors and, because the algorithms are perpetually learning, process errors are reduced and eliminated over time.
This helps when a business is growing at a fast pace or handling large volumes. An example is one of China’s Merchant Bank – which uses WeChat’s Messenger bots to handle over 1.5 million customer queries every day.
Despite the progress it has made, Artificial Intelligence still has a long way to go, with immense potential for application in various industries. The results that have been achieved as yet are mere pointers to the exciting times that lie ahead, both for customers and the businesses they patronise.