We all live in a tech-centric era in which innovation, convenience, and speed are essential to staying competitive in saturated markets, and if you’re a business owner, then it’s likely that you are constantly searching for innovative ways to optimize your typical customer experience and turn prospects into loyal, returning customers. While you should always work to prioritize streamlining your business operations to provide the most value for your customers, artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a powerful tool that can support your business in an abundance of innovative and time-saving ways, including how your brand interacts with customers. Throughout the ongoing AI revolution of the 21st century, we’ve seen all kinds of unique ideas become reality from open-source AI models like ChatGPT to self-driving cars, and our team has often reflected on this quote attributed to the late and great Steve Jobs: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
We believe that this quote from Jobs is especially poignant in today’s competitive business landscape because customers will always work with businesses that don’t accept the status quo and are constantly looking for ways to innovate and improve, which means it behooves your organization to embrace the technological marvels and revolutions of AI.
That said, it’s not always easy to know which types of AI you should integrate into your business operations, especially since the technology continues to evolve each day and the specific applications aren’t always applicable to each type of industry. How can your business leverage artificial intelligence technologies to create personalized and seamless experiences for their customers, and how can you use AI to not only improve your business operations but also develop a stronger understanding of your customers’ behaviors?
The customer experience is nothing new to the majority of business owners as plenty of companies have tried and struggled to improve the typical customer experience (CX) for decades, but many have been stalled by a lack of sufficient and accurate qualitative data, bureaucratic silos within the organization, poor in-house awareness of CX failures, and more. Thankfully, the introduction of AI at commercial levels has provided businesses with the powerful and cutting-edge tools that they need to tackle the challenges of CX head-on in a multitude of ways, which helps businesses attain a wealth of time-savings and cost-savings. For instance, AI-powered chatbots can handle a majority of customer queries on websites and apps in real-time, and when more complicated queries arrive, your AI bots can direct requests to the appropriate people on your team, providing a rapid response time and a seamless and personalized experience for your customers and prospects.
As an experienced content writer, I have spent many years heavily researching and developing stand-alone articles on a variety of business-related topics from brand identity development and creating customer personas to sharing insights on driving business growth, strategies to refine internal business processes, and even artificial intelligence tools. Throughout my education, research, and career in content creation, I have developed a robust understanding of the intricacies of artificial intelligence and I have strived to share many of those valuable insights and practical tips through my content and business consultations to support the growth and development of businesses of all sizes.
Let’s Start With The Basics: What Is AI and How Does It Work?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a term that commonly refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines or computer systems, allowing for the automation of functions and tasks that typically require human intelligence. The concept of AI has been batted around since the early 1900s, but at that point, it was only theoretical; the biggest strides in the field of AI would not be made until the 1950s. In our current modern setting, AI has moved beyond the theoretical field in many ways and has become more ingrained in our everyday behaviors, even if we don’t realize it’s being used in certain applications.
AI technologies are trained by specialists and data scientists through the use of complex algorithms and methods like machine learning and deep learning to build their intelligence and emulate human knowledge. Similar to human infants, AI technologies often start as faulty and unintelligent, often stumbling over the simplest tasks or ideas, but over time these systems will analyze and learn from vast volumes of user-provided data and their databases to refine their accuracy and effectiveness.
As previously mentioned, AI technology is constantly evolving and within the next 10, 20, or even 50 years, these technologies will branch into a variety of specializations and categories; but for the time being, AI can be broadly categorized into two main types:
1. Narrow or Weak AI
A narrow AI is designed to complete a specific task or a set of closely related tasks, often within a limited domain or frame of reference, hence the name. The most colloquial examples of narrow AI are the virtual personal assistants that are installed on most smartphones, smart speakers, and other smart technology connected by the Internet of Things, like Siri or Alexa.
These virtual assistants do not have the bandwidth to be considered fully independent or even intelligent; Siri and Alexa have a limited reach and a pre-defined range of functions installed by the manufacturer, and they often have difficulty with tasks outside of their breadth of abilities. You can ask these virtual assistants to complete simple things like setting calendar appointments or pulling fast facts about certain topics, but you can’t ask Siri or Alexa to generate wholly original ideas, make moral judgments, or even multitask.
2. General or Strong AI
As the name implies, general or strong AI technology is far more powerful than narrow or weak systems because these systems can comprehend complex problems, acquire data on their own, and utilize accumulated knowledge to complete various tasks, which feels eerily similar to human intelligence. If this type of AI sends shivers down your spine, don’t worry: as of writing this article, strong AI has not yet been fully achieved by AI researchers and data scientists, but its development remains a fascinating subject of ongoing research and speculation throughout the field of experts.
Within the general scopes of these two types of AI, you can further break down artificial intelligence into many sub-categories and sub-fields based on functionalities; but again, this field is constantly expanding and changing, and within the next few decades, we may see updates to these subcategorizations too. AI has hundreds if not thousands of unique applications across virtually every type of industry from healthcare and finance to manufacturing, entertainment, transportation, and more because it can be used to automate all kinds of difficult tasks, improve human decision-making through data analysis, and enhance efficiency and productivity. Let’s explore a few of these sub-categories in greater detail.
As the name implies, reactive machines are a type of narrow AI that reacts to inputs and delivers a reliable output response; they are limited by a set of rules or algorithmic parameters when reacting to the input. The most famous example of a reactive machine is the IBM Deep Blue supercomputer: a chess-playing AI system that famously defeated the international grandmaster Garry Kasparov. IBM Deep Blue is a reactive machine because it understands the rules of chess and recognizes how all the pieces on the board move, and when playing, IBM Deep Blue is more-or-less reacting to the moves of the other player.
These reactive AI systems have no memory and are task-specific, however, some types of reactive AI can utilize customer data points, like purchase history, to develop personalized recommendations or feedback to those customers. For instance, you interact with a version of a reactive machine within streaming platforms like Netflix because the AI has access to your viewing history data, which feeds into its algorithm to provide personalized recommendations for TV shows and movies based on what you’ve watched, liked, and disliked. Of course, those algorithm recommendations on streaming services are not always 100% accurate and the recommended shows may not be what you’re in the mood for when suggested, but they help provide an AI-enhanced customer experience that helps subscribers explore new forms of content that they may have missed, forgotten about, or have not considered before.
Unlike reactive machines, limited memory AI is trained on historical data and gets smarter over time as it receives more data, which allows this type of AI to more or less imitate the way neurons function together and communicate with each other in the human brain. Limited memory AI can monitor specific objects or situations over time and then program those observations into itself so that it can improve its performance based on previous data.
The most common real-world application of limited memory AI is with self-driving cars because these automobiles can observe other vehicles and objects on the road and account for their speed, direction, and proximity, which is essential when navigating intersections, curves, and traffic lights. These types of AI systems rely on deep learning to reinforce desirable outcomes and improve performance over time.
Theory of Mind & Self-Awareness
While the previous two examples of AI technology currently exist in the modern world, theory of mind and self-awareness are AI types that are not yet fully developed and will likely be built in the future. These two forms of AI are, at this point, theoretical and could have the potential to fully reshape our relationship with AI technology. At this point, it is unclear whether these concepts will contribute to AI-enhanced customer experiences, so at this point, we can only speculate.
Why The Customer Experience Matters
Everything from a customer’s initial perception of your business to the content on your website and every interaction with your team is encompassed in the customer experience. Every single touchpoint that your brand has with a customer, from the first ad impressions and initial conversations to your website’s navigation and the post-purchase support, shapes their experience with your organization and their perception of your company, and that experience plays a key role in defining their overall satisfaction and brand loyalty.
Every sale matters, and if a single touchpoint falls short of the customer’s expectations or is simply out of sync with the other pieces, that touchpoint can sink the overall experience for that customer and negatively impact any probability of repeat purchases down the line. For instance, a customer could love every interaction and conversation that they have with your employees and see the added value of your product or service, but if your company website is difficult to navigate, overwhelmingly complicated, or loads incredibly slowly, it’s unlikely that you’ll see that customer returns to your business for another purchase down the line.
The average consumer today is looking for a seamless purchasing process that is convenient, fast, and personalized at every possible point, so it’s in your best interest to ensure their experience meets and surpasses their expectations, especially if you want your organization to grow and to turn your customers into brand ambassadors and advocates.
How You Can Enhance The Typical Customer Experience with AI
When you harness the power of AI technologies, you’ll gain a wealth of competitive advantages that will better position your business in the market and you’ll be able to provide more personalized experiences for prospects and repeat customers through the rapid analysis of customer data. For instance, AI algorithms can utilize existing data points like a user’s previous interactions with your company or their browsing history on your website or app to generate product recommendations tailored to the shopper’s interests and behaviors; that kind of personalized experience can make your shoppers feel valued and understood, which will not only increase customer satisfaction and engagement rates but can also lead to additional referrals from that customer.
Every day, businesses have to work through plenty of repetitive, redundant, and mindless tasks like updating details within your best CRM solutions or directing shopper queries to the appropriate resource guides, items, or team members, which can be a serious drag on daily responsibilities and can make you feel like you’re wasting tons of time. Fortunately, artificial intelligence can play a significant role in these types of tasks too by automating the processes with simple algorithms or AI bots, which helps greatly reduce the need for human interventions and frees up your employees (and yourself) to focus on more complex issues, thus improving your customer service capabilities and the efficiency of your various teams.
And because AI technology can be so incredibly efficient, why not use it for data analysis activities and projects that would take your employees hours to assess and work through? When you assign an AI to analyze a wealth of data associated with your previous and current customers, it can extrapolate a surplus of valuable insights regarding your customer behaviors, purchasing patterns, and shopping preferences within minutes, which saves tons of manpower and time for your team.
If, for instance, you own a boutique clothing store and track tons of information and data about your online shoppers, you can utilize AI technology to efficiently analyze all of the online purchases from the most recent quarter within no time at all and have it determine which clothing items resonated the most with shoppers, which items generated the most significant return on ad spend (ROAS), which items will likely be the next popular trend in your online store, and many other insights. These types of insights and analytical findings can greatly benefit businesses of all sizes; within that clothing store, you could use the insights to maximize your profit margins by optimizing your e-commerce website around top-selling items, restructure your marketing strategies, and advertising budget to increase conversions in the short and long-term, and incrementally improve a myriad of other aspects of your business.
5 Actionable Ideas to Leverage AI in Your Business and Improve All of Your Customer Touchpoints
While you may be a leader in your field today, it won’t be that way forever because your competitors are constantly innovating and exploring new ways to outmatch your organization. If you want to stay on the competitive edge and keep your business at the forefront of your space, then you must embrace the AI revolution of our modern era and explore all the unique ways that you can leverage this emerging technology to benefit your entire customer journey from start to end.
1. Automate Tasks to Free Up Your Workforce for More Important Activities
When you automate a task like order fulfillment or customer inquiries, your switch will not only effectively eliminate human-made errors and ensure greater consistency across customer interactions, it will also increase the likelihood that your customers will become long-term brand advocates and your employees will be happier too because they won’t have to spend their workdays on mundane and repetitive tasks.
Website chat features are one of the most common uses of AI automation across all industries because these powerful AI chatbots can provide prompt and accurate responses at any time of the day, which means you don’t need to have a customer service representative always monitoring your live chat software and responding to inquiries. This automation helps save tons of time for your workforce and your customers simultaneously (and it helps save money for your payroll too). Prospects and customers are looking for fast responses to their needs and this automation provides that answer for a superior AI-enhanced customer experience.
If you’ve already got an AI chatbot installed on your company’s website, consider exploring AI systems to optimize the processes of your sales team; there are plenty of unique systems and AI plugins that can automate repetitive, but important tasks like qualifying leads, scheduling appointments, and drafting and scheduling follow-up emails.
2. Uncover Value-Add Insights Through Automated Customer Feedback and Rapid Analysis of Behaviors
Customer feedback is one of the most valuable bits of data that your company can acquire because there’s always something that you can improve in your company and, believe it or not, customers love to provide their thoughts and opinions on almost every kind of product or service. Your customer base is your best source of real-world data, and thanks to AI technologies, you can greatly simplify the feedback process for all of your clients and develop a robust understanding of the preferences, needs, and pain points of your client base within no time at all.
While 1-on-1 interviews with customers are the best way to gather feedback and uncover actionable insights, it’s not feasible to interview every single customer because neither you nor your customers can spare the time. Instead, surveys, feedback forms, and online reviews are the most common methods in our digital age to gather feedback and with AI technology, you can expedite the process even further by automating the distribution of feedback requests and analyzing them without a second thought. For instance, you can implement smart automation within your CRM system to email thousands of feedback requests to customers based on purchases, transactions, and additional criteria, and then you can use AI tools to instantaneously assess the accumulated data and mine for actionable insights. With enough time and the right AI tools, your system will start to identify trends in customer sentiments, experiences, and written feedback which can help clarify lapses in your offerings and establish a much clearer sense of how you can make the most of AI-enhanced customer experiences.
3. Strategically Optimize Marketing Campaigns by Leveraging Personalization in Ad Experiences
As noted earlier, your competitive edge grows duller and duller by the day and it’s integral that you explore ways to keep that edge sharp; fortunately, personalization is one of the best ways that you can accomplish that goal and you can use the abundance of data that you have to make sure your advertisements are optimized for every stage of the customer journey.
Across the advertising and marketing landscape, all kinds of unique AI tools and technology are being used in innovative ways to enhance marketing campaigns – from creating engaging social media posts and managing entire social calendars to optimizing digital advertisements with API integrations and personalizing ad copy to the individual users and so much more. Many marketers are currently using AI tools to generate personalized product recommendations for segments within their target audiences based on purchase and search history, interests and shopping behaviors, and the research patterns of users within those segments. Thanks to these AI-enhanced optimizations, business owners and marketers alike can ensure that the most appropriate ads are being served to the most appropriate prospects at the ideal times and the right places.
4. Reduce and Prevent Customer Churn by Generating Accurate Predictions for Trends and Behaviors
As a business owner, you are likely familiar with the idea of “churn rate,” which is a measurement of how many customers stop using a product or service (e.g., failing to renew, finding an alternative, etc.). Thankfully, through the use of machine learning algorithms and natural language processing (NLP), AI systems can be used to quickly pour through hundreds of thousands of unique customer signals, keywords, and crucial data points within customer interactions to spot red flags that indicate when a customer has a high churn risk and provide quick recommendations on how to ease that risk.
For example, let’s assume that you operate a software company and you have an existing support ticketing system – you could integrate an AI tool into that system to not only direct customer inquiries to the right teams but to also analyze a variety of customer signals like frequencies of support tickets and common language used in tickets, among other things. Those signals can then be used to develop and assign “customer sentiment scores,” which are measurements of customer experiences, which then allow you to pinpoint which customers are most “at risk” of churning and find opportunities to improve their experiences with your customers.
Soon enough, your AI will enhance customer experiences and turn buyers who were at risk of churning and leaving your customer base into happy customers who will advocate for your organization!
5. Promote Greater Accessibility for All Prospects and Remove Barriers to Entry
If you’re trying to expand your operations, grow your company, and branch out into new markets and segments, then it’s worthwhile to invest in AI technologies because they can greatly support your growth goals and help you reach across international borders and language barriers. Show your customers across the entire globe that you care about their experiences and you’re prioritizing their needs by using AI to translate text and inquiries in real time via customer service interactions, website content, social media platforms, and many other forms of communication.
Build The Future You Want for Your Business by Creating AI-Enhanced Customer Experiences
To enhance your customers’ experiences via AI technologies, it’s important to think through and visualize the entire customer journey from your first point of contact to the moment they become a brand advocate because there are tons of touchpoints that you have with customers. From your website content and social media posts to online advertisements and so on, there are many stops along the way from turning a consumer into a customer, so consider creating a detailed organizational map of where your prospects are interacting with your company the most and then you can start to identify the areas that need the most support.
If you’re ready to take your business to the next level and create enterprise-level business apps in minutes, consider exploring Flatlogic services. With their expertise in crafting powerful solutions, Flatlogic can help you harness the full potential of AI to deliver exceptional customer experiences and drive success in the digital era. Explore Flatlogic today and unlock the future of your business.