A double edged sword: How to wield AI wisely

Recent research conducted by Adobe amongst 13,000 marketing, creative and technology professionals has found that organisations who are engaging with AI are 50% more likely to exceed their own business goals – which makes it unsurprising then that 46% of brands are set to adopt the technology before the end of 2018.

But what does sudden mass adoption of AI look like? Brands must be wary of using AI to conduct communication for communication’s sake. AI is more than a hype, it is already allowing businesses  today to address real issues for their customers in real-time. However, it must be implemented correctly or it risks undoing any benefits it brings entirely.

Email, phone, text, messaging apps, social platforms and now smart home devices. If we consider that each of these via artificial intelligence could be triggered by a ‘real-time’ moment, think of the implications for the customer. Every time they google something, or it starts raining or they visit a new place, they suddenly receive a host of irrelevant messaging. Brands need to recognise the danger of over-communicating with their customers, or risk being deleted altogether.

Keep it simple

In a wide ranging research report we led, an overwhelming 86% of customers who left their bank, energy, mobile or insurance provider in the last six months said they would have been more content if they were contacted in a different way. When questioned about their reasons for leaving, relevancy and timeliness had the biggest impact on loyalty. Nearly one in five (17%) complained that they never received relevant information. Another fifth (20%) said they received relevant information but not when they wanted it. This style of marketing is no longer good enough.

The Adobe report correctly highlights the importance of brands elevating themselves “above the noise of more traditional, one-size-fits-all marketing.” AI gives brands the opportunity to send hyper-personalised messaging to their customers on multiple touchpoints throughout the day. However, it is just as key to remember that just because they always can, doesn’t mean they always should.

It is a hard balance to find, yet it’s key. Consumers are ready to jump on what they may find unnatural or fake communication that reads like a robot, however they also demand personalised marketing that comes to them in the channel and in the style they would like as the statistics above show.

So the issue lies in artificial intelligence vs. the human touch right? Incorrect. It does not have to be one or the other. Using artificial intelligence allows businesses to combine both the benefits of scale and automate with human insights to create personalised, tailored messaging that still has a real human feel. This all goes towards a positive customer experience that promotes relevant but timely dialogue and goes a long away in improving loyalty and reducing churn.

Problem solver

There are new headlines every day that name and shame brands who are the “worst” for customer service in industries ranging from telecoms to automotive to insurance. The odds are, you have a least favourite of one of your providers, simply because contacting them can become such an ordeal.

AI can be a real solution to this common gripe. We recently received 2 million euros in innovation grants in order to use AI to help Europe’s mobile operators improve customer value and communication for their subscribers, and thereby customer loyalty. In the telecom industry for example, we’ve identified a lack of resources to deal with huge customer bases and specific customer problems on a case-by-case basis. Artificial intelligence allows us to develop the functionality for these mass telecom businesses to address this.

Act now

It is important for those brands who have yet to adobe AI technology, to know that input into this does not have to be significant. Brands are already collecting their customers data every day, AI simply uses that data to better understand consumers and then use that insight to adapt and create a better customer experience.

With GDPR looming, many businesses are concerned as to how that will affect their customer service offering. Whilst consumers should ideally realise that giving their data away is a good thing that will provide them with the best experience, businesses must inform customers on the benefits of the latest communication approaches. Brands must be  clear about what they are doing with the data they collect, and promote the personalised style of customer interaction they offer.

Fundamentally if they can clearly see the benefits of sharing their data then they will want to do so. Utilising this data in a transparent and accountable way could increase customer retention, increase sales and build stronger and more loyal customer relationships.

As Adobe’s report highlights, the time has come to adopt or die. Act now and implement AI technology for the better of your business or risk your consumers moving on to someone who is.

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