Does Your Hi-Tech Translate to High-Value CX? Use AI to Build Relationships


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Source: ThinkStock
Source: ThinkStock

According to Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger, “Many industries are in the early stages of integrating technologies into the customer experience, and sometimes things don’t go well. The challenge is how to do it in a way that …doesn’t degrade the customer interaction…”

In the Forrester report, “2017 Predictions: Dynamics That Will Shape the Future in The Age of The Customer” it was noted:

  • In 2017, more and more CIOs will take a lead position in shaping the digital strategy of firms.
  • Companies will aggressively shift budgets from traditional IT spend to those technologies that directly or indirectly connect to customer experiences.

But, here’s the paradox, as well as the statistic, that marketers really need to pay attention to when it comes to thinking about how to structure CX: Customers who experience anger or a feeling of neglect during a brand interaction are about 8 times more likely not to forgive that company.

So, here’s the question: As companies rush to present high technology based CX, do consumers really want it? Or, do they see it merely as high-tech frustration?

Maya Mikhailov, a co-founder of tech company GPShopper, commented on this disconnect between tech-focused marketing vs. actual consumer “wants.” “[Companies] may be very excited but consumers aren’t necessarily as eager as they are.”

In learnings from 16,000+ hours of VoC interviews, here’s what consumers tell us again and again relative to unsatisfying technology-based interactions:

  • With today’s technology, I expect companies to address my individual interests and preferences.
  • You are trying to distill my complex needs into simple generalities
  • You marketers just don’t understand personalized engagement!

Who is Getting Technology Right?

The companies that are using high tech tools such as AIin combination with deep consumer insights to provide a higher level experience are the ones that are bridging the gap between “just tech” and “good use of tech.” Too many are simply relying on machine learning algorithms for a quick and fast fix.

Luxury hotel Dorchester Collection is using its AI to compile all of its consumer insights from various channels and integrate it into a 360-degree view of digital customer sentiment. These insights are then analyzed to measure performance and accurately uncover what really matters to guests. The company integrated 7,454 guests reviews from 28 different hotels and 10 major hotel brands across 18 cities and regions into their AI model to fine tune their insight intelligence.

“[AI] reads thousands of customer reviews and tells us what really matters to our customers,” says Ana Brant, The Dorchester Collection’s director for global guest experience and innovation… New information is available to us every second – the biggest challenge is the constant pursuit of meaningful analysis… [AI] summarized all the findings… [and] provided us with invaluable insight, further redefining our competitive advantage.”

The company used their AI platform to scrutinize guest comments related to the service they most used and most wanted. And, a few surprising facts emerged for the company and led it to realign its priorities.

As Brant notes:

“It’s not what the data tells you; it’s what you do with what the data is telling you that makes the difference. Can you resist the temptation to standardize, and use the data to uncover what makes your business unique?”

The company, which thought its breakfast offering was a “throwaway”, learned that it was one of its advantages. They rethought the offering and began personalizing it by location to meet guest needs. Additionally, areas of the hotel that guests found “special” were missing from the website. These areas were identified and then highlighted.


Rather than developing new technologies that offer nothing more than “cool” and cost reduction, marketers must harness the power of technology to deliver the essence of good CX: relationship building.

  • For technology to provide marketers—and consumers—with its full potential, a solid experiential framework must be rooted in actual (not assumed) consumer needs.
  • Technology that complicates the experience is a frustration and barrier to consumer engagement. Numerous studies have concluded that more so than elaborate technology, consumers want technology to provide accurate information that helps them make smart product purchases.
  • Used properly, technology enables marketers to gain rich insights into customer needs. Yet, the chasm between what companies think consumers want, versus what they actually want, is still enormous!
Ernan Roman
Ernan Roman (@ernanroman) is president of ERDM Corp. and author of Voice of the Customer Marketing. He was inducted into the DMA Marketing Hall of Fame due to the results his VoC research-based CX strategies achieve for clients such as IBM, Microsoft, QVC, Gilt and HP. ERDM conducts deep qualitative research to help companies understand how customers articulate their feelings and expectations for high value CX and personalization. Named one of the Top 40 Digital Luminaries and one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing.


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