Every product in this world has evolved as a result of human intelligence. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most cutting edge expressions of human intelligence. After all, the man has managed to make the machines “think”. Since AI has the capability to handle more users and machines, and make decisions faster, they are helping businesses grow faster and do more. Let’s take a look how.

Predict customer behaviour

Long before AI became mainstream, a few organisations had already developed the techniques to capture the behaviour and buying patterns of the customers. One of the most well known (and somewhat sinister for its times) examples of the power of data and pattern recognition is that of Target, one of the leading discount retailers in the United States. Target had implemented a data mining technique through which it could offer a ‘pregnancy prediction score’ to the buyers of its baby products and make them appropriate product recommendations. Now, the story goes that Target sent the coupons for cribs, maternity clothing and nursery furniture to a teenager’s email id, which outraged her father. However, later he found out that his daughter was indeed pregnant. If we look at the positive side of this case, Target was bang on in predicting customer behaviour!

Today, you may find product recommendations on your social media for the things you casually browsed on Snapdeal or see ads to buy a car just because you happened to compare prices of Hyundai and Honda online. Also, ever wondered how Facebook is able to dig out the profile of an old classmate and encourage you to connect with him, without you even looking him up? AI is the culprit. It picks up your activities and history to analyze and correlate to your buying behaviour and preferences.

Engage with the customer

Today, given the number of channels (emails, social networking sites, chat messengers, telephone, video calls) available to customers to communicate, businesses are struggling to strike engaging conversations with their customers. AI can help businesses to create an omni-channel experience to engage customers continuously, consistently and instantly without losing the relevance of the conversation.

Pepper, the first humanoid robot, is a fine example of customer engagement. It is used by SoftBank Mobile and Nestle stores in Japan, to adapt to customers’ tastes and habits. Pepper converses with customers, listens to what they say and interprets their emotions to offer appropriate advice or information. How cool is that!

Create personalised experiences

Customers expect personalised experiences and AI can help to create the same. Google is perhaps the finest example of personalisation. By watching what you search and what you click on, Google learns what you like and throws personalised notifications by using relevancy and self-learning algorithm.

Siri, Apple’s virtual digital assistant is another excellent example of how AI can produce hyper-targeted experiences. Get organised or amuse yourself, Siri can make up for the lack of human presence in your life, at least to some extent.

Provide real time engagement and experience

Let’s say you searched for a coffee maker on Amazon. You found the price too high and postponed your decision to buy. Next day, while paying your electricity bill online, you got a pop up from Amazon informing that the coffee maker you wanted to buy was now available at a discount. Amazing, isn’t it? This is nothing but AI’s power to offer real time engagement and experience to your customers.

By using AI, you can send customized coupons, deals and bargains to your customers and stay ahead of the competition.

Make predictions from historical data

Thanks to big data, most organizations sit on a goldmine of data these days. But, not many tap this data to predict what the future holds for them and how they can serve customers better. What is the use of storing customer information if you can’t make empowered decisions using it?

You may have perhaps heard of Digital Genius, an automated chat software which combines AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to form responses based on historical chat data of the customers.

With the help of AI, businesses can take a data-centric approach to make accurate predictions rather than make restrictive assumptions.

AI – Threat or Opportunity?

Like most things in the universe, AI has its own positive and negativeimplications for the businesses and customers.

Thumbs Up

  • AI will speed up the processes to drive efficiency in real-time customer experience and engagement.
  • The systems and predictions based on AI will be more accurate than ever, thereby increasing the level of trust in the decision-making.
  • AI will help to reduce human time and errors, thereby allowing employees to develop core competencies and personal skills to serve customers better.
  • AI will contribute to increased production and reduced costs in the manufacturing sector.

Thumbs Down

  • The biggest threat that AI portrays to mankind is that machines will replace humans, resulting in unemployment. Experts predict that robots will do 30% of our jobs by 2025. However, the other camp of experts believes that we are still light years away from this (scary) situation.
  • AI will intrude the privacy of people and violate human rights.

Inspite of the risks that AI poses, we can’t ignore that it is here to stay and be perceived as an opportunity that make our lives better. As far as businesses are concerned, they need to understand that human touch in customer relationships will remain critical as ever. They would need to use AI intelligently to set unbeatable standards in customer service, engagement and experience.

Bear the advice of Stephen Hawkings in your mind, “Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks”.