Over the last three decades, brands have invested billions of dollars in the customer experience (CX) in the quest to gain competitive advantage in revenue generation, market share and customer loyalty.
For some brands, these investments have paid off. As supporting technologies have evolved from simple sales support and lead generation solutions to fully integrated marketing, sales and service suites that manage the customer journey “horizontally” across functions and channels. As we’ve evolved to the omnichannel 24×7 CX model, the ability to payback capital investments in CX have increased.
For other brands, however, the capital investments in CX technology have not paid back the expected returns. Many global think tanks consistently produce research stating that the majority of CEOs are not satisfied with the results from CX investments. As an industry early adopter in CX, it has always been my view that tech functionality alone cannot drive a customer journey that creates an emotional connection to the brand and the financial metrics that flow from that connection. This emotional connection is mostly a function of how the brand innovates in the creative use and leveraging of its most valuable asset: customer data.
Within the last ten years, fortunately, the focus of CX deployments has shifted from tech functionality to leveraging data for competitive advantage in marketing, sales, and service. This shift to data-driven CX is even more pronounced today as AI-powered solutions, including Generative AI (Gen AI) and Large Language Models (LLMs), multiply the potential of leveraging customer data to produce a new, AI-driven CX.
Early AI adopters are now seeing progress – integrating AI-generated content with customer-facing processes is now producing early successes. In 2023, many brands experimented with AI prototypes. In 2024, they will now select the “winners” and begin to scale AI-driven marketing and CX processes across the enterprise. In short, 2024 will be the year that AI “moves out of the lab and into the channels” – at scale.
Given this “breakthrough year” which is upon us, CEOs are now focused on AI more than ever as their teams submit larger and larger budget requests to achieve enterprise level AI-driven CX.
If you are responsible for leveraging AI in your company, you want to mitigate the risk of investing capital in AI expansion. Following are three components of the next-gen customer experience that can drive your revenue and customer loyalty metrics to bold new heights in 2024, increasing your probability of AI success.
#1 Hyper-Personalized Shopping Experience
People appreciate personalization. They like it in life, in relationships and when shopping online. Time is the new currency and personalization, by making interactions with the brand more relevant, saves consumers time.
The numbers are now in – when leveraged appropriately, personalization delivers significant benefits to companies. It can lower customer acquisition costs by up to 50 percent, boost revenue by up to 15 percent and collectively increase marketing ROI by up to 30 percent. Personalization is associated with greater customer loyalty and higher gross sales, making it one of the strongest factors separating customer-centric companies from those just guessing. For many leading digital brands across the globe, we use personalization to make offers more timely, relevant, proactive and a more efficient use of consumer’s time.
As an inherently data-driven initiative, personalization will become high priority in 2024. We are already beginning to focus on merging Gen AI and LLM models to drive personalization and achieve fast payback from capital investments in AI.
As one example, a major auto manufacturer is using Gen AI to hyper-personalize the consumer’s auto shopping and buying experience in ways that were inconceivable just a few short years ago.
We all know the car buying experience is emotional. It’s frequently – next to a home – the most significant expenditure a family or individual makes. Since the sales price of an auto is so high, there’s a lot at stake for auto brands in defining audiences, generating prospects, converting prospects to customers and sales and creating customers loyal to the auto’s family of brands.
#2 Multiple Data Streams – First & Zero Party Data, Augmented by Analytics, are Most Predictive
Companies have been collecting customer data since the advent of the internet – tracking views, clicks, likes, and swipes help brands make better, more informed decisions about their product offerings and customer expectations.
With Gen AI, this collected (and inferred) data can do more than ever before. Today, leading brands are merging Gen AI algorithms with their customer 360 databases to take personalization to the next level. The First Party data collected from interactions and the Zero Party data supplied by customers is a literal gold mine – it consistently outperforms third party data in predictive power and conversion results.
Elevating CX requires leveraging customer-supplied data, synthetic data, and advanced analytics to create targeting protocols, messaging content and offers that are strategically crafted to be compelling to this particular household buying unit.
Simply put, successful CX strategies will integrate various data types, including customer-supplied and synthetic data, to provide a more accurate and personalized customer interaction.
#3 Continuous Improvement
Without continuous innovation in leveraging data, today’s data-driven advantage is tomorrow’s outdated methodology. Successful brands must remain agile, continuously gathering, integrating, analyzing, and applying real-time data at every customer interaction to maintain a competitive edge. Merging the customer 360 with Gen AI and new real-time channel technologies is the formula for success. As one example, this is how YouTube, YouTube TV, YouTube Music and Google search all present the same message/offers based on your usage habits.
Additionally, AI leaders will measure the impact of Gen AI-driven lead management, sales conversion rates, and brand engagement intensities against baseline metrics to continuously find the “winners.”
Regarding risk, AI is a rapidly evolving industry, and brands must continually monitor opportunities and potential risks, ensuring they are best serving their customers and protecting their brand image. Real-time Gen AI content represents great upside but inaccuracies in output can actually detract from brand perception and equity.
Doing More With Data
Like all emerging and game-changing technologies, it’s impossible to predict where this AI-driven CX model will be in 10 years, but don’t wait around to find out. One thing we do know is that the prevailing AI model is already evolving to AGI, or Artificial General Intelligence. For example, Meta and the University of Texas at Austin are developing new techniques that are almost enabling marketers to “read the mind” of consumers and to present AI-driven offers inside the immersive experience in real-time.
In the age of AI, brands will need to retain and enhance their competitive edge through continuous AI improvement. That means gathering, integrating, analyzing, and leveraging real-time data at every customer interaction in a way that builds a meaningful and emotional connection to the brand.
The promise of Gen AI lies in creating a more immersive and emotional experience that is connected to the brand promise. This impact is achieved using hyper-personalized Gen AI to create loyal brand enthusiasts. It’s a powerful proposition ready for companies of every size and sector to capitalize on now.