AI helps brands create emotional connections to customers
During the hurricanes that hit Florida and Texas hard in late 2017, Tesla automatically extended the battery range of all its customers in affected areas so they could evacuate without “range anxiety.” Providing customers with this added service during a stressful time—without having to ask for it—increased allegiance to the brand significantly. And it was made possible through AI.
According to futurist and author Blake Morgan, AI will be part of almost 95 percent of customer interactions by 2025. And when we asked executives recently about the impact of AI on the customer experience, 61 percent said that they believe that AI will be helpful in creating an emotional connection to their customers.
While some people decry the potential loss of human interaction, others (including me) see AI as both augmenting the ability of the sales and customer service professionals to do their jobs more efficiently and offer an exceptional customer experience in the process.
Omnichannel is not a TV station—it’s a way of life
Connecting interactions across platforms – in-person, telephone, online, social media—is a good way to start to build customer intimacy. But what started as omnichannel marketing is quickly shifting into omnichannel customer experience:
- A water company notices a spike in a customer’s usage and calls to offer a free inspection to identify leaky sinks or water line issues.
- Auto-makers text drivers of recalled cars with options for days and times to schedule repairs.
- A hotel lets you check in by kiosk, and by the time you reach the room, has the lights, temperature and curtains set the way you prefer.
In most cases, companies are simply tapping into the data that you’ve already provided – either explicitly or through your habits – to offer an unprecedented new level of personalization and service. Ultimately, an exceptional customer experience makes you feel more loyal, more emotionally connected to the brand and more likely to complete the sale and recommend it to your friends.
When AI goes plaid
Global brand and retailer Burberry embraced AI in a big way, creating a fully immersive experience in their shops. When a customer walks in, their loyalty card brings up their purchase history and preferences, giving clerks ideas on what the customer may like, including how to accessorize or complement previous purchases. RFID tags attached to clothing send information about an item to the customer’s phone about how the item was made. Burberry has received rave reviews from customers, but, even more important, has been able to tweak its marketing as well. After realizing that a bag on sale performed much better in stores than online, Burberry changed the online images and increased online sales by 100 percent.
The role of AI in creating that emotional connection, augmenting the role of humans and enhancing the customer experience elicits strong reactions in the marketplace but, ultimately, I believe we will land in a spot where humans and machines work together to provide new and richer experiences for all involved.