September 21, 2017 | By

Will Bots Help Us Buy? 4 Big Changes Now Possible with AI-Supported Customer Service

As artificial intelligence continues to make great strides, experts are reassessing how it may impact businesses and the customer journey.

Years ago, many of us pictured a virtual world filled with holograms and virtual entities that would try to talk us into buying all sorts of stuff. The current landscape looks a little different. Here are some ways companies are likely to use chatbots, virtual assistants, and other forms of AI.

Assistance at Failure Points

One of the biggest pain points for any kind of sale is the point of abandonment.

You can see this in ecommerce shopping cart models – too many customers start a purchase, and just don’t finish it. They may have second thoughts, get distracted, or experience an error during the checkout process.

Companies should identify these points of abandonment, whether they are in shopping carts, on a landing page, or anywhere else, and smartly deploy AI at those points. A well-placed nudge in the form of an email, proactive chat, or text to a customer’s smartphone is one of the most effective things AI can do to reduce abandonment (“Psst…you left an item in your cart. Need help??”).

A Personalized Experience

As some experts point out, another kind of AI assistance happens in the background. Deep learning algorithms and other forms of machine learning can help a business to build a better profile of a customer, and use that to sell – or to make sales more convenient for that shopper. You might call this the “analytics side” of AI-based customer service. With more evolved AI tools, companies are able to market more intelligently to an individual with his or her background, personality and philosophy … not just a demographic. For example, an AI engine could leverage data from a variety of places – CRM, order management system, etc. – and use that to create unique offers for individuals based on what it has observed from the customer profile.

Help Throughout the Customer Journey

Smart companies know that a sale isn’t the click of a button – that it happens in a rich context with a defined timeline. AI can help to define that timeline and support critical moments along the path to conversion. Suppose the same AI platform looks for potential customers in a general audience, targets ads to them, gets them interested, and follows up with each one. A “bystander” becomes a “person with interest.” The same AI tool then reaches out to him or her directly, starts a conversation and answers questions, building a relationship. Near the close of the sale, AI intervenes again and offers a discount. When the customer is ready, AI helps walk him or her through the checkout process.

It’s not hard to see how robust AI can be an assistive force all the way through the customer journey. What’s surprising it that it’s taken companies so long to figure this out.

Providing Actionable Information

While all of the use cases above are great, there’s another amazing utility to AI that many companies might overlook.

People who are researching a purchase are on a specific mission. They want information. Having the right access to data about a product or service can mean the difference between a successful sale or a failed one.

AI systems can help deliver everything a customer needs to know right to his or her fingertips at the right time – and companies using these models can see market share skyrocket.

Read Forrester’s blog about how artificial intelligence will change how we market, how we buy, and what forward-thinking businesses can do to position themselves for the coming change.

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