How Marketers Must Use Artificial Intelligence to Win With Customers

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The potential AI has to improve customer service and engagement, as well as efficiency and productivity means that marketers can no longer afford to ignore it. Every industry is now being disrupted by AI and the question is whether marketers at established companies are prepared to take proactive steps to ensure that disruption doesn’t happen to them.

The long-term path to success with AI requires marketers to approach the integration of AI through an “AI Triple Win” framework of utility, privacy/security, and trust.

Sklar Wilton & Associates Triple Win Framework

The AI Triple Win Framework

To achieve business success, the framework incorporates three key, foundational components:

  1. Utility: AI must solve pain points, add value, and serve genuine needs.
  2. Privacy and Security: Marketers must incorporate privacy as a fundamental principle in every aspect of their work as opposed to an afterthought, and data must be held safely.
  3. Trust: Marketers must achieve AI for Good, not simply AI for profit.

Pillar #1: Utility

To have the goal of using AI simply because competitors are using it is misguided. Whether creating utility means answering customer questions within seconds, serving consumers with more relevant website ads, or entertaining people while they wait for a taxi, every AI tool must serve a genuine need. Marketers must have clarity on the role that AI can play in for them in growing their brand and that requires Utility.  

At companies that focus on retail and customer service, AI tools help customers find clothes that fit properly (Levi’s), and answer questions about products and services (Sephora, Lowe’s). Alibaba, a leader in applying advanced technologies in the retail space, has even employed smart racks and mirrors to help customers see themselves in new styles without ever trying the clothes on, a boon for accessibility.

Similarly, within the food and QSR category, both Campbell’s Soup and Knorr use AI to help customers customize recipes based on ingredients currently in their home. Taco Bell uses a Slack chatbot to take orders. And, Domino’s Pizza allows customers to place orders by sending a message that contains only the word “Pizza.”

Our research has shown that Canadians feel positive about AI in the customer service space. Many people believe that AI has the potential to improve customer service (40%) and can provide the same or better customer service than a person (20%). Further, 59% of people would feel comfortable with AI providing recommendations on what to purchase.

Given that 36% of people say Canadian businesses should invest in using AI technologies to run their business, it is clear that consumers are ready for companies to use AI.

Privacy and Security

Marketers must also prioritize privacy and security in their applications of AI, a concept best described as Privacy by Design, introduced by privacy expert Ann Cavoukian.

Few consumer facing brands have made privacy a key differentiator. Snips is a voice assistant alternative to Alexa and Siri that focuses on privacy and security. Similarly, Purism is a company that builds digital technologies with security as the main feature.

Photo from Pixabay
Photo from Pixabay

People are comfortable trusting AI systems with personal aspects of their lives including regulating the temperature inside their homes (72%) and providing companionship to people who need it (58%). However, 43% worry about the AI on their phone, and a whopping 78% believe that AI will increase the lack of privacy.

To increase their odds of success, marketers must create AI applications that incorporate the privacy and security features desired by consumers.

Trust

Trust is built by brands that aim to serve a purpose greater than simply increasing profits and market share. Nike and Under Armor are prime examples in that they mapped their AI applications against their mission statements to create AI for Good and help people lead healthier lives.

Unfortunately, 31% of people worry companies might misuse AI to their own advantage and 41% believe companies using AI are focused on reducing their costs at the expense of people.

Marketers must ensure that the products and services they build serve a higher purpose, and that they convince consumers they deserve to be trusted.

By Gerd Altmann on Pixabay

Accepting the challenge

Across many industries, companies have embedded AI processes throughout their systems to improve their engagement with or optimize their processes for consumers and customers. Through chatbots, voice assistants, and AI enhanced processes, AI is helping innovative companies offer their customers more relevant products and services, speedier answers to questions, and faster bookings and sales.

The following three-step process will help companies using AI technologies be more successful.

  1. Marketers must understand and clarify the role that AI can play in marketing including understanding consumer needs, unmet needs, and pain points, as well brand purpose and mission.
  2. Marketers must understand their audience, including Early Adopters who are aware of and experimenting with AI tools today.
  3. Marketers must employ the AI Triple Win framework of Utility, Privacy and Security, and Trust into every AI development.

The results shared here are a small part of a much larger study. If you would like to learn more about Canadians’ perceptions of AI and how marketers can better meet the needs of their customers, please download the free report here.

Annie Pettit, Ph.D. FMRIA
Annie Pettit, PhD, FMRIA is a research methodologist who specializes in marketing and research design and strategy. She is an invited speaker at conferences around the world and has published refereed and industry articles. She won a Ginny Valentine Award, ESOMAR Excellence Award for the Best Paper, MRIA Award of Outstanding Merit, and ESOMAR Best Methodological Paper. Annie blogs at LoveStats, tweets at @LoveStats and is the author of "People Aren't Robots" and "7 Strategies and 10 Tactics to Become a Thought Leader" both available on Amazon.

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