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Artificial Intelligence (AI) can seem like a remote concept, a technology more applicable to the likes of Apple and Tesla than the average business. But while this may have been true a couple of years ago, things are changing fast. 

Almost every business is now using AI to some extent and it’s no longer just a novelty; it’s generating insights that guide decision-making and drive critical business processes. Most importantly of all, it’s helping businesses get closer to their customers than ever before.

 

A new view of the customer

AI lets you make full use of customer data for the first time. It helps you makes sense of data of all types, from all channels, and finds patterns that reveal how your customers are actually behaving today. Even better, it tells you what they’re about to do next.

This has applications for every customer-facing team. 

And with all-new insight into customer behavior, you can create all-new customer experiences. We’re already seeing our customers use AI to transform the way they engage with customers. Read on for a few examples.

 

AI in action

Retailer Black Diamond is using Commerce Cloud Einstein, to deliver smart product recommendations to online shoppers.

It uses data captured from both known and anonymous customers to create models of shopper activity in real time. These models predict what each individual is most likely to purchase and then present recommendations to that customer in the moment. And they’re getting smarter all the time. With every click and interaction, they learn more about customers and adapt accordingly. 

AI is also making it easier to create frictionless customer interactions. 

For example, one retailer is transforming the grocery experience by enabling its customers to place orders through Amazon Alexa. Customers can add items to their basket, browse what’s on offer and schedule deliveries using only voice commands. 

Another of our customers, a hotel provider, is using AI in a similar way. It’s trained chat bots to answer frequently asked questions and direct customers to relevant resources. As a result, customers get the information they need more quickly and are more likely to continue their engagement with the provider. 

 

Making AI-driven customer experience a reality

Integrating AI into your business sounds like a complicated process, but finding and implementing the technology that drives AI is relatively easy. The difficult part is capturing and organising the data you need to power these platforms. 

AI depends on high-quality, accurate customer data. And to be most effective, this data needs to come straight from the customer. Otherwise you won’t be able to build look-a-like models that truly reflect your audience. 

Capturing this data can be difficult, especially if you aren’t interacting with your customer directly. This was a problem that our Global SVP, Ulrik Nehammer, faced when he was CEO of Coca-Cola Germany.

His team had huge databases of data from retailers that showed him how many products were being sold, but he knew little about the individuals that actually bought these products. 

To solve this problem Coca-Cola launched the GetHappy app. This app connects customers to local retailers and rewards them with loyalty points every time they buy a Coca-Cola product. This gives the marketing team access to the data it needs to create personalised messages and launch niche campaigns. It can see where people like to shop, the products they buy and how often they’re buying.

This is the type of data that drives successful AI initiatives, and Neheammer believes that capturing it should be a priority for all businesses – even before you have a perfect plan for using it. Speaking at a recent Salesforce Connected Customer event he said: “All first-party data is valuable, even if it’s unstructured. You may not be able to use it now but it’s only a matter of time before you can.” 

 

The future of AI

AI is already transforming the way we engage customers but the benefit we’re seeing today pale in comparison to its projected impact. IDC predicts that AI will deliver a $1.1 trillion boost to global business revenue and create 800 thousand new jobs in the next five years alone. 

If AI was a novelty a few years ago, it looks set to become the new electricity – something all businesses depend on and few can do without.

Want to learn more about how you can transform your customer experience with AI? Email us at innovate@salesforce.com to schedule a meeting. And in the meantime, read this e-book on AI for CRM to find out how you can get started.