In this era of digital data, consumer behavior is constantly tracked, analyzed and optimized. Humans alone cannot process and create actionable insights from the massive amounts of collected data. However, by utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI), it’s not only possible to create more personalized consumer experiences and meet customers’ increasingly high expectations, but achieve a strategic imperative for business success.

Nearly every industry is utilizing data in some way to improve their business operations and the overall customer experience. The retail and hospitality industries are utilizing AI to mine consumer behavior not to just improve customer service, but to proactively anticipate the needs of their customers, and create a positive and engaging end-to-end experience.

In one Accenture study, almost a quarter of consumers surveyed said their customer service expectations are higher than they were the previous year. It is no longer acceptable to simply solve customers’ issues; brands need to anticipate those issues before they even arise.

A holistic approach to the overall customer experience is the new normal. To that end, AI platforms and applications can augment the work done by humans to help businesses and brands meet and exceed consumer expectations by delivering a personalized experience from the outset, creating loyal customer advocates and additional revenue growth.

Communication is Key

The consumer experience starts before a customer is even aware of your product or service. With information at their fingertips, consumers typically begin their purchasing journey with online searches and research. Oftentimes, their decision to go with a certain brand is influenced by reviews or recommendations from friends, and what other customers are saying about your product online. Most online reviews pertain to customer service experiences, including how a company handled or mishandled an issue. This kind of influence on new purchasers comes down to communication between a business and consumers; communication is key, particularly when a brand makes a mistake and needs to resolve it.

Cognitive and conversational AI platforms can help deliver a faster and more positive experience when communicating with customers. IPsoft’s Amelia, for example, has advanced context switching, which makes customer interactions more natural and fluid with easy transitions between different subjects, questions and issues within a single conversation. Customers now expect faster resolutions, and businesses are seeing the benefits of having AI systems in place to handle customer support 24/7, including higher Net Promoter Scores, and better overall revenue.

AI can help your human service agents resolve issues and problems faster, so customers will not experience interminable wait times in support queues. AI-powered agents, using conversational signals to identify patterns based on data, can quickly direct a customer toward a resolution, before a human agent even needs to step in. When they do, AI augments the work of human agents; it doesn’t replace it. AI can work collaboratively to help agents be more successful and efficient at their jobs.

 A Personalized Experience and the Customer Journey

Marketers have been utilizing AI to automate various activities and develop insights about their audiences. This allows businesses to better serve consumers with products and services they actually want, and to target them with more relevant messaging. Virtual assistants, speech technology and conversational AI can bring more personalized experiences to each customer, while also informing companies about what influences purchasing decisions and builds brand loyalty.

With an effective AI system in place, a business can create a consistent feedback loop, where consumers can influence businesses to create more relevant offerings. When this is done well, consumers become critical brand evangelists, leading to lifelong relationships among both new and returning customers — and leading ultimately to higher ROI on an AI investment.

In customer service, AI and machine learning can help reveal what content and programming consumers find useful, as well as the products consumers want (sometimes before they even know it). As more companies use AI to create personalized and efficient consumer experiences, customers are starting to anticipate and in fact expect these type of encounters from all brands and logos — which in the long run puts those businesses that have yet to invest in AI at a competitive disadvantage.

It’s no longer enough for brands to simply offer high-touch customer service when an issue or problem arises — it must be delivered at all times, across all channels. Consumers are in control, they have many choices, and they’re willing to pay for a better experience. They also are no longer solely attracted to the lowest price tag; a recent study shows that 80% of consumers said they would purchase a product or service for at a higher cost for a better customer experience. Given these trends, a holistic customer experience takes every interaction and touchpoint into account, and businesses can use AI to enhance customer service operations across different channels.

Consumer loyalty is built by offering consistently good brand encounters, with communication, personalization and seamless consumer experiences at the core. When deploying a cognitive AI solution to improve customer experiences, make sure it can achieve these goals and be an effective representative for your company and brand.

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