Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly becoming an everyday part of digital customer experience, making a difference for both site visitors and digital teams. AI is also a term that both interests and confuses teams in equal measure, and we occasionally we get asked by clients about how they can use AI now and in the near future. In this article, we’re going to demystify the term and look at six ways AI is driving better digital customer experiences right now.
What is AI?
At a high level, AI is can be defined as software and algorithms which are able to mimic and reproduce capabilities that would classically require some level of human intelligence to carry out, such as learning, decision-making and analysis.
However, trying to define AI more specifically raises some of the misunderstandings relating to the term. Sometimes AI comes with baggage and preconceptions; it is often associated with either overinflated expectations about the benefits it can deliver, or with negative connotations about a frightening and dystopian future impact. AI is also frequently characterized as a homogenous, single-form technology, when it is actually an umbrella term that covers a different range of technologies and concepts including machine learning, Natural Language Processing, advanced optical character recognition and more.
The borders of what is and isn’t AI are more than a little fuzzy. For example, are capabilities in software that deliver advanced analytics AI or not? In a sense, it doesn’t matter in terms of the benefits it brings to digital customer experience, but it can lead to misunderstandings when considering overall strategies for AI.
AI is for today and tomorrow
AI is exciting and captures the imagination. It’s also usually associated with the future. However, in the digital customer experience space, the set of technologies that relate to AI are as relevant for today as they are for tomorrow. AI can bring real-world benefits to digital customer experience that benefit customers as well as the teams that deliver it. AI is already heavily deployed across websites and the digital experience platforms, content management systems and e-commerce engines that drive customer experiences.
Let’s look at six ways AI is fuelling digital customer experience and helping marketing teams today
Chatbots are an obvious form of AI that is appearing on many websites and apps as a simple, conversational interface to answer customer questions, carry out searches, initiate simple e-commerce transactions and act as an entry point for customer support queries, sometimes with the possibility of a hand-off to a live agent if necessary.
Chatbots can be branded as virtual assistants and even be given their own dedicated app, such as the Bank of America’s Erica. Advances in bot platforms and frameworks have lowered the barriers to entry for deploying a chatbot and the market is expected to grow, with some forecasts suggesting the global chatbot market will grow to be worth $9.4 billion per year by 2024.
2. Suggestions and recommendations
Amazon and Netflix have shifted perceptions and expectations of customer experience with suggestions and recommendations for products and digital content that occasionally strike gold and seem to predict our likes and dislikes. Of course, Amazon and Netflix have invested millions and millions of dollars in the algorithms and data platforms that drive the recommendation engines behind their experiences, but product recommendations in e-commerce and content suggestions in media are now more commonplace. Data inputs to shape recommendations will include both browsing and buying behavior as well as any information that has been volunteered by the customer.
3. Automation for customers
Automation that removes steps for customers to carry out a transaction or complete a task is always going to be welcome. Automation can come in different shapes and sizes, from the ability to apply preferences to remove steps in an e-commerce process, to making it easy to book an appointment with a customer agent, to having an entire branded bot that identifies and applies potential discounts and deals.
4. Marketing automation
Of course, automation benefits marketing teams too, with the ability to use AI to automate campaigns with sophisticated and intelligent actions that save huge amounts of time for small and busy marketing teams. Here, an intelligent digital experience platform like Sitecore really excels. In our article on how to get started with Sitecore’s marketing automation, we covered the way Sitecore enables teams to set up an automated campaign which:
- Intelligently enrolls a contact into that campaign at a given time
- Evaluates the contact based on pre-defined rules
- Performs relative tasks and workflow such as sending an email.
With multiple actions and steps, this can lead to complex and sophisticated campaigns that have a positive impact on customers. There are other examples of marketing and content automation that are also possible within Sitecore like the auto-tagging of content.
5. Advanced analytics
Another area where AI makes a significant difference for marketing teams is providing advanced analytics that deliver insights into visitor engagement, behavior and user journeys. Popular analytics engines like Google Analytics and the analytics capabilities of a platform like Sitecore are already very sophisticated and can add value to relatively simple operations like A/B testing or more advanced processes such as identifying audience segmentation. Analytics remains an area of strength for Sitecore.
Auto-personalization is one of the most exciting developments in the Sitecore platform over the past eighteen months, and it’s only going to get better. Sitecore AI is a core platform capability that means all marketing and website teams can now start to apply personalization to their website, helping them on a journey to drive better and more meaningful customer experiences.
Sitecore AI leverages machine learning to automate personalization for customers, and “automatically identifies visitor trends, creates customer segments and modifies page elements to deliver.” In more detail, it works by:
- Initially identifying potential customer segments by analyzing your current data
- Helping marketing teams identify the variations in these customer segments and choose those in which they want personalization to take place
- Automatically making decisions to cluster visitors into these segments based on the likelihood of individuals being engaged
- Operating a dashboard for each segment with profile data, delivering insights into the content that is engaging that audience.
Using AI to fuel customer experiences
Are you using Artificial Intelligence to fuel your customer experiences and make life easier for your marketing team? Are you leveraging all the AI capabilities in Sitecore? If you’d like to discuss your approach to AI or how it applies to Sitecore, then get in touch!