How AI Is Changing the Customer Experience
Think for a moment about the popularity of Amazon Prime. Yes, I love supporting local merchants, and I do that often. But I also love the convenience of Amazon Prime. I can find the 40-pound bag of dog food, order it with one click, and it will be on my front doorstep in two days. No trip to the pet food store. No lugging that heavy bag around. No inconvenience. Bottom line: The price is the same, and I just saved an hour of my time. Honestly, even if the price is more, in many instances, saving my time is worth the added cost.
If the already-convenient Amazon Prime utilized the power of AI, it’d be like efficiency rocket-fuel, right? Which is exactly why Jeff Bezos has a warehouse equipped with over 45,000 drones, is focused on developing and launching a drone delivery system, and integrating AI into operations with a laser focus.
Speaking of AI in the home, smart TVs and smart refrigerators already here—and they have the potential to get even smarter. LG has leveraged the power of AI personal assistants by incorporating Alexa into its Smart InstaFridge line. That means you can get recipes and see if you’re running out of butter all without ever opening the door or pulling out your phone—a simple tap will do. If you’re at the store later and need to remember, though, the info is all connected.
LG isn’t the only company in the game. Samsung has launched the Family Hub refrigerator that not only cools your food, but also includes a connected touch screen and even an app that connects to your external device of choice. It has voice control and is integrated with the popular music platform Spotify.
Could the smart refrigerators of the future take it a step further, though? Could they order your butter for you, automatically, if their algorithms indicate you’re running low? And, moreover, if they know what kind of butter your normally purchase—or can reasonably assume what you’ll like based on your activity and preferences? A simple integration with Amazon’s Alexa robot and the answer is a resounding yes. It’s coming. In fact, it’s just around the corner
Amazon isn’t the only company getting in the game. Consider these other examples of AI-powered shopping experiences that are soon to be the new normal:
- Apparel company The North Face has a mobile app—powered by IBM Watson—that uses an algorithm to help consumers choose precisely the right product for their needs.
- 1-800-Flowers also uses IBM Watson to power its “gifts when you need” (GWYN) platform. The platform behaves similarly to a chatbot—a highly sophisticated one—and helps customers find answers and place orders quicker (see Figure 1). Digiday reports the average person spends two minutes with GWYN and gets answers to up to six questions. Sounds a lot more efficient than being on hold.
Figure 1. GWYN. Source: Digiday
How AI Will Impact Marketing
A recent report from Weber Shandwick found that 55 percent of CMOs believe AI will change marketing even more than social media. Not surprisingly, the report—AI-Ready Or Not: Artificial Intelligence Here We Come!—also found over two-thirds of CMOs reported they were going to implement AI in their marketing. But why? And what will that impact look like?
For starters, AI is the ultimate tool when it comes to personalization in online marketing. Personalization is part of what builds an excellent customer experience—and, ultimately, brand loyalty—so nailing it is important. That’s why today, so many brands take the time to analyze each consumer group and create an algorithm for each one. With the data processing power of AI, that sequence can take seconds, not weeks or months, leaving ample time to adjust if a campaign falls flat.
Better campaigns and better (read: faster) customer service equals better marketing—marketing that nurtures a meaningful customer journey, not just leads to a purchase. As AI seeps deeper into our marketing playbooks and more brands get on board, customers will not simply appreciate these experiences—they’ll demand them.
Want more? My colleagues have also written extensively on this topic. And why not? There are so many moving parts—and all their accompanying prospects and challenges—that are foolish to ignore. For a deeper dive and other perspectives, be sure to read Shawn Elledge’s How Intelligent Data Is Driving the Cross-Channel Experience for the Retail Consumer, and Daniel Newman’s The Business Case for Drone Technology.
In the meantime, what are your thoughts on AI powering your consumer experience? Would you buy a smart fridge? Do you care if your AI assistant orders butter for you when you need it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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