5 ways AI can enhance the customer journey from conversation to conversion

How can organisations better use technology to process their data, and build personalised customer experiences and enhanced customer journeys?

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the global business landscape. The pace and volume of data creation have accelerated with the increase in remote working arrangements and digital transactions, transforming economic realities for businesses everywhere. With this unprecedented change, technology – particularly artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) – is now crucial in helping businesses adapt for growth and continuity. In Singapore, almost half of IT professionals are seeing the roll-out of AI tools in their companies to better manage productivity, security, data processing, and sales.

AI technology is becoming faster, smarter, and cheaper, bringing the marketing industry closer to the next level of human-machine interaction. It is raising the bar for what brands can do to enhance the customer journey, improve customer experiences, and better meet customer needs. AI is shaping modern marketing, and as we approach the ‘next normal’ we will need to consider the key benefits AI can bring to the table to holistically improve the customer experience throughout their journey.

Customers feel like you understand them

AI and ML have revolutionised the marketing sector. They have enabled machines to crunch enormous amounts of data and do the heavy lifting on data aggregation and cleansing, which in turn enables marketers to spend their time analysing customers’ behavioural patterns.

Focusing on the customer while having technology analyse and make sense of the data is a given in today’s digital age. In fact, the Adobe 2022 Digital Trends: APAC report highlights that the trend of relying on technology for data extraction and management is growing, and 60% of businesses in APAC plan on accelerating investment in customer data technology.

“The challenge for most marketers today is not the availability of data – but making sense of the data.  [Epsilon] uses machine learning to help brands turn data into actionable insights by building human-centric models that predict what consumers are going to do, what they are going to buy, and even the type of ads they are going to respond to, in a way that respects consumer privacy and choice.” said Eugene Yap, Epsilon’s APAC Head of Consulting, Strategy and Insights.

The ability to process and understand customer data is invaluable to personalise communications at the individual level. Implementing machine learning can unlock the huge untapped potential to personalise across a brand’s marketing channels, connecting marketers with high-value consumers in the process. Plus, with the machines doing the heavy lifting, marketers have time to really dig into those insights to inform their strategy.

Customers receive thoughtful recommendations

We’ve all seen an ad for a product that you’d simply never buy or need—and it’s frustrating. You feel like that brand doesn’t know you at all.

In this digital age, trust in technology cannot be assumed; it must be earned. Customers today are looking for personalised experiences. According to OpenText, 71% of Singaporean consumers are more likely to buy from brands more than once when they feel that they have been treated as an individual, rather than the same as any other customer. This highlights an important trend moving forward: a personalised experience is essential for success.

While machine learning algorithms can predict consumer behaviour to deliver personalised products, offers, messaging, content, and rewards for loyalty members, what is important is the impact. When customers receive a brand communication built by one of these algorithms, it’s more effective if it is something they need, rather than a compilation of products with little significance that they are likely to easily dismiss.

Personalised content creates a “human” connection

In the wake of the pandemic, consumers expect the brands they interact with to deliver better, safer, and more seamless interactions. The 2020 Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) Singapore Survey by KPMG noted three distinct trends in changes to consumer behaviour: consumers expect more personalised marketing, greater protection of their personal data, and more responsive services.

Effective audience development, segmentation, and outreach can take on a new life by adding AI as an element in the decision-making process. Each profile becomes a segment of one, so you’re treating customers like the unique individual they are, rather than part of a batch-and-blast scheme. Brands that are able to better leverage and protect customer data can provide tailored experiences quickly and more efficiently, ensuring a memorable customer journey. 

Ultimately, greater data management and the clever use of AI can help brands build stronger relationships with their customers. Aligning marketing activities to their needs can strengthen affinity towards your brand.

Customer service is fast and friendly

AI allows marketers to enhance the customer experience with around-the-clock attention. Bots and virtual assistants embedded in websites or apps offer a 1:1 communication channel for brands – one that’s highly relevant and personalised to the individual.

Conversational AI ultimately sits at the intersection of customer engagement and need. In fact, new research from AI Rudder shows that 25% more businesses in the Asia Pacific plan to invest in conversational AI, such as chatbots and virtual assistants, in 2022. Fueled by past behaviour, conversational AI can:

  • Greet customers by their first names
  • Ask them if they need any quick problem solving
  • Recommend relevant products based on current chat dialogue or their last browsing session or purchase

Marketers can also nurture these customers post-conversion. When someone returns to your site, the insights gained from previous interactions will help brands immediately connect with relevant content.

Customers feel supported through each buying stage

Machine learning and AI support natural language processing (NLP), which allows for organisation, optimisation and generation of content quickly. From a marketer’s perspective, this saves time and money by processing large volumes of content that can be searchable and intelligently tagged for easy use. From a consumer’s perspective, this helps successfully guide them through the customer journey with ease.

A fractured experience often deters people from continuing to engage with your brand. That’s where AI comes in. AI patterns allow marketers to make decisions on what a customer’s next best action is, so they’re constantly building on past interactions to inform what should come next.

Moving forward, continuous innovation and investment in AI that can better impact and benefit customer experience must be a business imperative for success and long-term growth. Brands on their digital transformation journey must look towards gaining a deeper understanding of the future consumer and be ready to stay agile in order to match their needs through the use of technology.