True—the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) hold huge promise in helping us better engage and satisfy our customers. But that promise still depends heavily on our ability to process and act on the data we’re gathering in a way that is meaningful and positive for our customer base. Research shows that within a few years, 89 percent of businesses will compete primarily on customer experience. Luckily, in the age of digital transformation, today’s start-ups have a whole new world of tools to help them create and maintain the types of relationships their customers so badly want, and in record time. Below, I offer a few tips on incorporating effective, meaningful IoT, and AI into your overall business strategy.
Welcome the Magic of Big Data
Customer satisfaction gives a unifying purpose to your data. What’s more, companies no longer have an excuse for their customers to be dissatisfied. As one writer put it, the days of guessing about customer satisfaction are officially over. Big Data is like modern-day Darwinism: companies can phase out ineffective product features, marketing campaigns, instructions—and even entire products—often, in real time. Your choice of either embracing or ignoring Big Data as part of your customer service strategy could mean the difference between your company becoming the next Netflix—or the next Blockbuster. Even better, data allows your employees to put less energy into hunting for information, and more time brainstorming on how to use it. The question is no longer, “Is this working?” Instead, it’s, “How can we make it work even better?”
Focus on Thoughtful Automation
If you’re overwhelmed by the amount of data available right now, you’re not alone. But the truth is: Big Data is only getting bigger. As such, automation will—and must—play a huge role in your customer service strategy. When used correctly, it will help you sort, process, and make sense of the massive amounts of data your customers are providing so you can respond at the same pace they are moving—fast. Indeed, in today’s digital world, customers want help and answers now. And the only way to be there now is to use automation.
For those of you who haven’t quite cozied up to the idea of machine learning, chatbots, and artificial intelligence, rest assured: you can trust the results. Today’s technology is working with startling accuracy—and is getting better every day. Facebook’s DeepFace technology is now 97 percent accurate. IBM says its Watson technology is 2,400 percent “smarter” than it was six years ago. The emotional intelligence of today’s chatbots and voice responders is freakishly human. Seriously: It’s time to build a relationship of trust with your tech.
Research shows that within five years, consumers will manage 85 percent of relationships with an enterprise without interacting with a human. (Don’t mention that to your customer service team.) Ironically, the “personalization” many customers so badly desire is being made possible by massive automation and Big Data. This is more than just personalizing your drip campaigns and landing pages. This means proactively providing the information your customers want before they ask for it; answering questions before they ask them; knowing they’re unhappy—and fixing it—before they run to your competitor’s arms.
Understand Great Power Comes with Great Responsibility
For your IoT and AI efforts to be successful, you need to understand that the responsibility to actually use the data you find rests entirely on you—not your customer. As companies around the world become increasingly responsive and complex, so do your customers’ expectations. And your company needs to be prepared to fulfill them. That means your front-line service employees need to be well-versed not just in your products, but in any range of others your customers are using, from home automation systems to software, apps, and customer service dashboards from a variety of industries—not just your own.
Know that Relationship is still No. 1
While a company’s interaction used to be limited to point of sale—at least in the retail world—now, the point of sale is just the beginning. That’s huge! By incorporating emotional intelligence into chatbots and voice responders, we can help nurture and grow those relationships, without sacrificing the productivity of our human workforce. And those relationships do matter. Healthcare giant Humana found that as emotional connectivity scores improved, so did customer overall satisfaction. At the end of the day, relationships are still what our clients and buyers are starving for, and IoT and AI can help us feed them.
Still, our customers are not the only ones who will benefit from a strong AI and IoT strategy. Used correctly, the data you gather will help you create a clearer vision for your employees, as well. Big Data can help you build a workplace that is organized, efficient, with purposeful, with clear and meaningful goals that can truly inspire your team. No amount of big data or AI can replace that.
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This post was first published on Forbes.
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