August 28, 2017
Today, artificial intelligence (AI) does not only apply to science fiction stories and robotics. Rapid developments in technology and marketing, as well as a broader cultural and historical proclivity toward speed and automation, demonstrate that AI has become a staple of everyday life and will only continue to become more prevalent. Consider the technology already characterizing eCommerce, enhanced user experiences, and self-checkout registers. AI has already been implemented into every one of these areas, maximizing efficiency on the part of the business and convenience on part of the customer.
As Business Insider pointed out in a 2016 article, more than 85 percent of all customer interactions will be regulated without humans by 2020. In fact, many companies have already implemented AI into their daily workflow. For example, consider the bots used by companies like Under Armor, Taco Bell and Spotify that provide an interactive user experience that subsequently achieve greater customer retention.
Under Armor collaborated with IBM Watson to create Record, a health-monitoring app that tracks workouts, sleeping habits and nutritional information. It can also import data from other fitness apps, creating an environment of convenience and bestowing it upon users. Taco Bell has a service known as TacoBot, which affords customers the convenience of placing orders remotely using Slack. Spotify utilizes AI to monitor the user’s listening preferences and make recommendations concerning related music, creating a personalized experience for each individual user.
In today’s modern business environment, which is characterized by a combination of expediency and efficiency, the advantages of minimizing or entirely removing the chances of human error in eCommerce and marketing cannot be understated. Usage has become so prevalent that businesses that have not yet implemented AI into their eCommerce or marketing strategies have already been left at a stark disadvantage. This is because AI is capable of analyzing data much more rapidly than any human. Consequently, its implementation provides an excellent means of discerning customer patterns, resulting in efficient analysis of purchasing patterns so that ads and offers can be appropriately targeted to individual users.
The process outlined above provides invaluable intel that grants insight into customer behavior both prior to and after a purchase. This benefits both the customer and the business by providing an individualized experience and increasing sales. Some companies use AI to provide a convenient means of implementing a variety of marketing, eCommerce, and Web design solutions designed to increase visibility and maximize customer retention through an enhanced user experience oriented around tactical SEO and content marketing.
Implementing AI technologies provides companies with accurate intelligence that resolves potential business-related issues. For example, AI technology allows sales teams to easily discern which customers are most likely to purchase particular products. This results in improved interaction between businesses and customers, as the business will possess the knowledge required to optimize a customer’s experience prior to any purchase.
Some studies show that nearly one-third of marketing leads are not adequately investigated by sales agents. Not following up on potential leads means that customers that would likely purchase the product go unnoticed. Conversely, many companies have useful customer data that they are not properly utilizing. This data could be used to improve sales and provide an individualized experience for potential customers. For example, one of the ways AI has been implemented into a retail environment is through facial recognition software.
While many lament the use of facial recognition software, arguing that it constitutes an invasion of privacy, such software has also been used to great effect. On one hand, it discourages potential shoplifters by capturing their facial information. On the other, it retains data (commonly referred to as “dwell times”) concerning how long a customer looks at a specific product. Such information can be utilized to improve a customer’s experience on subsequent visits by optimizing re-marketing tactics that adequately respond to the customer’s preferences and interests.
Another positive aspect of implementing AI is enhanced sales techniques. AI effectively eliminates procedural detriments such as cold-calling and door-to-door sales, which take up a lot of business time and annoy potential customers. This is accomplished through advertisements on social media platforms and television.
Another convenience afforded through the implementation of AI is natural language processing, which is conducted by Intelligent Assistants (IA) and typically manifests in voice recognition applications like Siri. IA utilizes AI in tandem with voice recognition technology to interface with recorded user data, ultimately providing an enhanced user experience. One of the ways this is accomplished is through cognitive computing platforms, which conveniently respond to complex requests such as analysis, facial recognition, risk assessment, and booking reservations.
Implementing IA optimizes responses to customer inquiries, provides solutions to various problems, ascertains sales chances, and much more. Even more, IA can be configured to handle all of these functions simultaneously for a multitude of customers. This helps provide customized solutions, rather than suggesting products or ideas that the customer is not interested in. Consequently, these practices are altering the landscape of business and customer interaction by improving both marketing and eCommerce platforms.
One of the objections to AI is that it will eventually deprive humans of their jobs. A quick assessment of the way in which companies plan to implement such technology reveals that many of these claims are unfounded. For example, many people regard the automation of rideshare platforms via self-driving vehicles as a detriment. While this may apply to drivers themselves, it does not necessarily mean that humans will be jobless. Rather, it is helping the workforce to become more proficient in technology-related fields. Further, as the Metro article points out, the implementation of AI actually results in greater employee retention while simultaneously encouraging prospective employees to become technologically literate. IBM refers to this variant as “new collar” jobs. This change in the workforce means that new hires will be considered on the basis of their adaptability rather than their expertise. This will result in an increased hiring of employees that have graduated from a vocational school, or at the very least, possess a two-year college degree.
For example, Uber plans on hiring dozens of workers to research AI that will eventually make self-driving vehicles more efficient, resulting in improved convenience for both businesses and customers. Consequently, the impacts of such research will help automated vehicles become more efficient at recognizing other vehicles, street lights and pedestrians.
As the above information indicates, AI is altering the sales landscape in a positive direction by improving customer retention and optimizing business practices. These changes improve business and customer relations and drive technological innovation for the better. Additionally, they are encouraging workers to improve their technological literacy and work-related skillsets.
John Surdakowski is the founder and creative director at Avex Designs, a digital agency in New York City. John has been working in the digital space for 15 years and loves sharing his thoughts and experiences about web design, development and marketing. When he is not collaborating with global brands and agencies, he's writing music, spending time with his family or in the mountains snowboarding.