The Three Ways AI Is Impacting Customers And Retailers This Holiday Season

This post is part of a series sponsored by IBM about Five Ways Marketers Can Win the Holidays

Artificial intelligence (AI) is impacting the way consumers are shopping for the holidays. It is also driving how companies are operating in order to deepen customer relationships. According to Lauren Kindzierski, VP at HGS, “Forward-thinking companies are already using a combination of bots and brains to deliver next-generation customer experiences and optimize operations.”

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Cognitive and machine learning is powering behaviour in three critical ways for customers and retailers this holiday season.

  1. How customers find gifts? Customers are looking for ease and convenience when holiday shopping. They want an experience that is personalized to their needs. The expectation is that each stage of the journey will be seamless. Voice is driving the beginning stage of their journey. According to Accenture, a majority of consumers are already using or would like to use a number of technologies that are powered by AI. Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed indicated that they were using or wanted to use Google Home, compared to 71 percent for Amazon’s Alexa. Similarly, voice-search enabled digital assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana and are becoming the go-to search mode for mobile. This trend is here to stay beyond the holidays. ComScore says that by 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches.
  2. Where and how customers buy? AI can help companies manage data and allow them to be predictive of customer behaviour. By leveraging information about weather, location, and preferences, it can help to create an optimal shopping experience. For retailers, AI can improve supply chain management. It can provide insights in to managing inventory levels and streamlining shipping management. The result is the right items are available and can be shipped to customers in a timely fashion.
  3. How companies manage customer service? During the holidays there is an increased need for seasonal staff to handle customer service issues. For companies, AI is playing a key role in handling many of the basic requests. IVR’s and chatbots powered by AI are handling tasks such as updates on orders, sharing return policies and answering FAQ’s. According to Narvar, customers are not noticing the difference. Their research found that 38% of consumers didn’t know whether a live chat or messenger app was a human being or AI. Only 10% knew it was not human. Gartner predicts that by 2020, the customer will manage 85% of its relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human source.

To find out more about the five ways marketers can win the holidays, check out this series by IBM covering: 1 – Bridge Digital & Physical Experiences, 2 – Predict the Future to Improve Your Impact, 3 – Market in the Moments that Matter, 4 – Discover the Best Path to Purchase, and 5 – Get Alerted to High-Impact Situations.

Customer Service is Improved by Matchmaking

“Your call may be recorded for training and quality purposes.”

We’ve all heard this before. Companies use call center recordings for training and compliance purposes. But imagine a solution that uses technology, data and analytics in real-time to automatically match customers to like-minded customer service representatives. Software that uses algorithms to analyze customer speech for tone, tempo, and syntax to identify the customer’s personality type and behavioral preferences.

Read more

Personalized Marketing Solutions

You might have noticed that I talk a lot about customer experience. Perhaps this is because of how important the experience of your customer is–but how little time companies seem to put into making customer experiences special. One thing I’ve noticed is that over the years, companies big and small have made changes to incorporate a better customer experience. Whether this is because of the dawn of the internet, where company reviews will never die or because companies realized a shift of power was happening no one can really say. Maybe it’s a little bit of both. Either way, the customer experience has certainly changed–and will continue to do so throughout 2017.

Read more

What Led to Amazon Being a Household Name

These days, Amazon is practically a household name. Of course, they haven’t always been at the top of the game. In fact, it took a lot of hard work and customer care to get to where they are now. Among companies today, Amazon is arguably the leader in continuously raising the bar. In 2013, the company released its Mayday button for the Kindle Fire HDX tablet. The single-click support solution allows tablet owners to access an Amazon customer service representative via webcam. Within fifteen seconds, an Amazon representative shows up on-screen to solve problems in a responsive fashion with a simple touch of a button.

Read more

What Marketing And Change Have In Common

There are so many marketing companies out there these days doing so many different things. From commanding the digital space to being more effective in branding, marketing companies certainly aren’t lacking in options for their specialty. But while the number of marketing companies continues to grow, the one thing that remains constant in how they reach you…is change.

Read more

When Technology Leads to Behavior Changes

Some might argue technology is making us less human. Others would argue just the opposite. No matter which opinion you share, you can’t dispute the rising trend of personal data collection and its effect on behavior change. But while behavior change might not be your ultimate goal, it can still happen. Take Automatic Link as a for instance, who leverages the OBD-II port in your car to report data back to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The device allows you to monitor your car’s speed, fuel injection rate and more. There’s also an accelerometer in the device, which detects sudden stops and starts and a speaker that beeps in those moments as if the device were chiding you about your driving habits.

Read more

Big Data Versus Thick Data

It seems like a lot of people talk about data. It’s important to note that data plays a big role in today’s world. There is so much that can be learned from data, assuming you know where to look and how to analyze it. The good news is that even if you don’t know how to do these things, there are plenty of individuals out there who can–and who are for hire. That being said, most brands aren’t really focused on the data. Instead they’re focused on their customers–the very people they want to service.

Read more

How Verizon Makes Things Personal

Verizon personalizes its service through a desktop solution called Rep Guidance. The system shows reps detailed customer information such as how much data they use, what shows they watch and which TV equipment they use the most. Rep Guidance allows call center representatives to foster more intelligent, better-connected conversations with customers on one single screen.

Read more

Real Time Data in Action

Real-time data. It’s a term that is often used in the world of customer service, but one that is rarely defined. When it comes to running a successful business of any size, keeping your customers happy is an obvious priority. In today’s tech-driven world, this can actually be achieved in ways we never before imagined: using real-time data.

Read more

Personalization in Customer Service

Don’ make the conclusion that personalization is mostly science. Companies today are also turning to subjective data as a part of their personalization efforts. One such company is Stitch Fix, which offers online personal stylists for women.

Read more