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Four ways AI can help build an omnichannel customer experience.

Published: Mar 18, 2019

Artificial intelligence (AI) has fueled imaginations for decades, but the technology is no longer the stuff of aspiration. It’s here now, and savvy businesses are starting to leverage it to enhance the customer experience in various innovative ways.

AI-driven and machine learning technologies couldn’t have come at a better time. Businesses in a range of industries, including retail, banking and communications, have been looking to build an omnichannel customer experience (CX). The omnichannel integrates mobile apps with websites, physical spaces and contact centers to deliver a consistent experience, making the customer readily recognizable regardless of the point of interaction.

Why Onmichannel CX Matters

Why is the omnichannel CX important? Consider this: 69 percent of customers want service through multiple channels, and customers using them are 15 percent more profitable, according to Accenture. Still, creating omnichannel CX has been anything but easy for most businesses, aside from shining exceptions such as Starbucks, Amazon, Sephora and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

AI, however, has the potential to turn exceptions into rules. Be it through chatbots, digital assistants, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), intelligent interactive voice response (IVR) systems or some other technology yet to be introduced, AI-driven applications can make omnichannel CX a reality.

AI can help manage inventory and fulfillment, deliver targeted content, communicate with customers and provide experiences mixing the virtual and physical worlds to produce real outcomes. Companies that leverage these capabilities are bound to stand out from the pack, creating experiences others will seek to emulate. Here are four ways AI can help you create an omnichannel experience worth emulating:

Inventory Management and Fulfillment

Managing inventory and efficiently moving shipments from warehouse to consumer have historically been some of the biggest problems companies have to solve. Too much inventory in the wrong place is costly, potentially driving up fulfillment costs and causing delays for customers who are increasingly demanding about speed of delivery.

AI-driven inventory systems can recognize customers and their preferences whether they place an order in a store, through a website or on a mobile app. Some customers prefer to research online and make the purchase in person. Others order something through a smartphone app or website and pick it up at a store. AI systems are growing in sophistication to the point of following the movements of individual consumers to ensure items they buy are ready where and when they want them.

In the omnichannel model, the system may link to a marketing application that personalizes a promotion for a specific customer based on items a person has been viewing online. Meanwhile at the fulfillment center, a system synced to inventory management ensures a package is picked and shipped – or prepared for pickup – as soon as the order is received.

Targeted Content

Through AI and machine learning, organizations can deliver content tailored to specific tastes and preferences. A media site, for instance, can deliver news via email, text, social media and mobile app about the topics in which a reader shows interest. The more data is captured about each reader, the more precisely targeted the content becomes.

Likewise, retailers can offer promotions and package together items targeted to individual customers by using machine learning-fueled propensity models that predict shopper behavior. Predictions are based on data captured from each time the customer uses one of the company’s channels for research or purchasing. Analysis of past behavior patterns is used to forecast future purchases.

Enhanced Communication

Despite email, texting and a whole host of digital communication apps, the emergence and growing popularity of digital assistants have made something clear: People still like to talk. Oral communication is the most natural way to make yourself heard, which is why AI-driven natural language processing and voice commands are becoming more and more popular.

Walking into a room and using voice commands to control temperature, lighting, doors, window shades and appliances is easier than fumbling through a touchscreen to get to the right commands. Even phone menus contact centers will eventually become a thing of the past. Instead, intelligent IVR systems will identify callers based on factors such as device, dialing pattern, mood and voice to identify and route a caller quicker than multiple-menu systems.

Integrating these systems with other communications channels, including chatbots that assist website visitors with inquiries and purchases, will contribute significantly to the creation of omnichannel CX strategies.

Gamification and AR

Combining virtual and physical environments through gamification helps round out the omnichannel experience. Examples include AR-equipped mirrors in fitting rooms allowing shoppers to see different colors on a garment, VR simulations that teach how to use a product or service and game-based interactions through smartphones and digital signage in stores and restaurants.

For instance, Domino’s Pizza uses a game app to build customer loyalty through reward points; at a Dutch location a large screen engages patrons with a competitive game. In healthcare, AR is being used in physical therapy for patients and training for medical professionals. AR applications with monitoring and data analysis capabilities let healthcare providers track patient progress and set treatment protocols.

Essential Component

For any organization developing an omnichannel customer experience strategy, AI has become an essential component. AI and machine learning can link multiple channels to build rewarding customer experiences. And because AI systems are designed to learn as more data is captured, they add flexibility to omnichannel CX in a constantly changing world.

Learn more about personalizing your customer experience. If you are attending Enterprise Connect, visit us in Booth 1219.