Businesses mainly exist because of customers. Or potential customers.

That is why before starting a business, you must be sure that there is a market for your products.

It is therefore important that your business meets the needs of your customers. If it doesn’t, your competitors will do it. As such, you have to always be ahead of the competition.

This means staying ahead of the news. Knowing what they don’t know.

Getting information ahead of them and implementing it properly and faster.

It also means you have to make your operations more efficient and keep your costs as low as possible.

Yet the focus should not be on your way of doing business because it is not about you.

Your focus should be on your customers because business is all about them.

Since they are the ones guaranteeing your sustained or increased revenues, you have to get them hooked to your business.

They have to love you more than they can love any other brand in your industry.

How do you ensure that?

There are many ways of achieving this though one stands out.

This is by use of technology.

But this is not just any other technology. It is the addition of brainpower to your company.

We are talking about Artificial Intelligence.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence is the man-made intelligence that is brought to you through computer programs. It can be in the form of robots (hardware and software) or only computer programs (software).

The use of robots is quite limited though still in existence.

You will mainly spot them in science-related organizations where research is mainstream.

They have also been adopted in hospitals where they can carry out medical procedures.

But much of AI comes in the form of software integrated either into a company’s main system or as a standalone solution.

What makes AI stand out over the normal computer programs is the ability to think and reason.

The limits are dependent on what the system has been programmed to do.

For example, there are manufacturing processes done by robotic arms.

These have been fed with relevant information and instructions to facilitate the kind of work they do.

These robotic arms can use sensors and internal decision making processes to measure a car’s door size. From that, they will know what amount of paint to use then go ahead and apply it evenly.

Not only will this be done perfectly well, it will also be faster than a human hand.

Away from factories, there are other forms of Artificial Intelligence which are more visible in your everyday life.

COMMON EXAMPLES OF AI

Although this technology has not yet been embraced by all businesses, many have implemented it.

They have had their own stories to tell as the benefits are evident.

Some manufacturers have reported more revenues after selling these solutions.

For those buying, many conveniences have been reported.

Here are some of the most common ways AI is already in your life though you may not have known it.

Virtual Assistants

Everyone loves convenience and this is one of technology’s most profound promises. Fortunately, it keeps this promise.

Thanks to technology, you can store foods for longer (refrigerators) and cook them within seconds (microwave ovens). There is definitely much to celebrate technology for.

But one of the more recent additions to convenience is the virtual assistant.

Amazon has its Alexa, Microsoft its Cortana and Google its Google Assistant. These provide you with voice control through which you can do very many things. For example, you can order pizza from home and also check traffic before leaving the office.

Here is an example of how an AI-powered virtual assistant works. It offers the customer convenience while providing the business lots of additional revenue opportunities.

Virtual assistants are a good example of how AI works.

They are programmed to learn your voice and process your language. They understand what you tell them and do it accordingly. They even go beyond that in many ways.

They are able to learn your preferences and keep them in mind. They will then use these to make your life as easy as possible.

An example of this is when you get back home and your favorite music starts playing. Your virtual assistant might ask you if you want it played, or what song you want to listen to. Alternatively, it might just start playing it without asking since it has learned from your preferences.

Like a human assistant or secretary, these can also record notes and store them in the cloud. They can also retrieve and read the notes to you later on. That is the intelligence in these devices. And more is expected to be made possible.

Online Shopping Recommendations

Ever paid close attention to the product recommendations you get when shopping online? This is another example of AI.

These programs quickly “read your mind” and know your interests. They then move to make very relevant and interesting suggestions for you to consider. The accuracy exhibited by these programs is astounding and the suggestions they make will more often than not capture your attention.

This is why you end up spending more time shopping online than you planned for. And unless you are very disciplined and specific with what you need, you will definitely spend more money.

Although you will have bought something good, the biggest beneficiary here is the business—the online retailer whose website you visited. The retailer will have managed to convince you to buy more.

However, note that no-one spoke a single word to you. A computer program just made some suggestions and you agreed with it.

These product recommendations usually come labeled something like, “Customers who bought this also bought…” Or, “Recommended accessories for this product.”

In case social media has been integrated into the system, you can receive messages such as “Here are some of your friends who also bought this product.”

This is meant to convince you that you are making the right choice. Or staring at it, and you need to make the decision fast.

Whereas you can definitely see the marketing angle to it, as a buyer, these systems can help you locate the best deal available on the platform.

Social Network Recommendations

Facebook is good at using AI too. In any case, isn’t it one of the world’s biggest technology companies? It is therefore only natural that they will make it big with the innovation.

Their implementation comes when they make friend suggestions to you.

Have you ever asked yourself how they knew who to suggest to you?

It is Artificial Intelligence at work.

Much of it is based on the information you and your friends have fed into Facebook.

The algorithms running in the background do comparisons and check for possible acquaintance from many angles.

They may check the events attended by both of you, friends shared between the two of you or even locations where you live.

Basically, all the information you provide is used to help make relevant friend suggestions.

Another example is how Facebook’s Messenger uses AI to make suggestions during conversations.

And if you accept one suggestion, you have made the system smarter. It will be able to do an even better job next time.

Email Spam Filters

Another great example is the spam filter which is part of your email program. Apart from being a bother and source of annoyance, spam emails are also tools used to try and infiltrate business networks.

As such, they are actually security threats to you and your business.

Being security threats, they evolve quite quickly.

More than that, the people who send such emails are way too many that they cannot be arrested to end the vice.

And to make things more difficult, spammers have learned to utilize technology so it works for them.

They automate the email-sending programs so as to send as many as possible without being recognized. They can send emails which seem to be coming from a different continent while the spammers may actually be living next door.

They research and learn the ways through which your email provider is seeking to keep you safe. They then look for ways of breaking into that system to deceive and defraud you.

So how does your email spam filter protect you?

Although there are many ways your email program keeps you safe, AI is at the heart of it all. Most spam filters utilize a huge database of patterns used by spammers.

These are like characteristics of spam emails.

Some combine this with a real-time ability to scan and detect fishy characteristics of emails.

When a suspicious email is detected, it is scanned for various known anomalies.

If it passes the test, it may be presented to you with a warning message urging you to verify that it is safe.

Depending on the action you take, the system learns some more.

Video Games

Movies and video games are popular when it comes to relaxing and getting entertained.

But video games offer more engagement than movies and traditional TV programs.

This is because of the level of immersion they provide.

Whereas a movie shows you what happened in the cast’s life, video games give you an opportunity to be inside the action.

You may be playing your favorite game and your opponent seems to be getting the better of you. In this case, just know that the computer behind the scenes is using artificial intelligence.

In most cases, the system will beat you, especially if you set the game’s difficulty level to “Hard.”

The “average” or “moderate” setting may still be too much for you if you are not experienced in the game.

This shows you how powerful AI is.

One classic example of a game which used AI to beat a champion was the IBM’s Deep Blue system. This system beat the then world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a game of chess.

The victory for the machine came in the rematch.

This was 1 year after losing to the chess champion in the original match.

BENEFITS OF AI TO YOUR BUSINESS

Seeing that AI has been implemented and is growing in usage, you may wonder what real benefits it brings.

If the examples above did not convince you of the possible benefits, then check these more specific ones.

Improves Efficiency

Improved efficiency is a sure way of increasing productivity. And when your customers experience efficiency with your service delivery, they are sure to appreciate and come back.

Businesses which adopt AI testify to the benefits and many more are investing heavily in AI.

And on the basis of such reports, many others jump on the opportunity to implement their own AI systems.

An example of this is the chatbot program on many websites. Very few people recognize this to be a machine communicating with them.

It is easy to believe that it is a human who is on the other side because of the smooth flow of the interaction.

And although some businesses have humans behind the chat messages, many are going the chatbot way.

These programs have been taught, or have learned how humans speak and can replicate that. They can either be used in audio conversations or text- based interactions.

They have learned from studying patterns and many examples of responses given by humans and can thus respond like them.

A visible benefit of these chatbots is the unlimited number of customer interactions they can handle at one particular time.

Whereas with human customer care staff, only one customer can be handled at a time, this is not the case with AI-powered chats.

Many customers can have their queries answered with little to no human intervention.

This makes your customers happy as they will not have to wait for a customer service representative to be available.

Drives Customer Engagement

The way AI works to benefit both shopper and business in online shopping proves that customer engagement can be increased.

The suggestion of related products simple keeps the customer on your e-shop for longer.

And the longer he is there, the more of your offerings he sees.

The more he sees, the more he is likely to spend and that is how you benefit.

With more time spent on the site, you also get to gauge a customer’s engagement by measuring how much scrolling he did on the product pages.

This helps you know which products not to suggest next time because they never interested him.

For that particular customer, you also get more insight into his interests and can better profile him for later marketing.

Prevent Human Error

AI has been used to prevent human error in the transport industry. I

t is widely known that 9 out of 10 road accidents occur due to human error.

This means that if human error is removed, then accidents will drastically reduce.

This is partly one of the reasons why many cars are now equipped with some level of computer programming for increased safety.

Some of the safety measures included are automatic brake systems, collision detection systems as well as parking assist systems.

All these use AI to make the right decisions about the given circumstances.

The advanced stage of what is implemented in these vehicles brings about autonomous cars.

Any self-driving car is loaded with lots of data and an AI system.

These cars will check the weather, monitor traffic situation and based on the information acquired, take the best route to your destination.

Predict Outcomes

Businesses need ways of staying ahead of the game.

This is especially true where the stakes are high. And where else would the stakes be higher than the stock market?

One of the most common investment grounds is the stock market.

You may buy shares and sell them again to make profit. You can either do this occasionally or daily.

If you do it daily, this could be said to be your career.

Yet there is no career which has no challenges. If you are a professional and really work to maximize profits, they don’t just sit and wait for the prices to change.

Since price change are what determine when to buy and sell, you have to know when it’s going to happen.

At the same time, you have to be sure that when it happens, it’s not going to change beyond that.

How do you know this?

Some professionals rely on their intellect and experience. But if you are tech savvy, then you should know better.

Invest in a system which can predict the best time to buy and sell your stock holdings. You will achieve this by feeding the system with data on historical prices and transactions.

The system then monitors the transactions being done or the changes in the market.

When it perceives that the prices are set to rise and to what exact price, it advices you to sell.

If a certain stock is of interest, then you can monitor it for low prices so as to buy when it is cheap.

Customers Want It

If you are still not convinced that AI is the way to go, then maybe this study by Capgemini will help you.

In a study about customers and AI interactions, they found that consumers know about AI and actually want it.

They like AI better when it is informed by human intelligence.

The consumers also reported that AI-powered interactions would be better as long as there was a real human providing oversight.

This means that customer are not only satisfied with non-human interactions but are also enjoying it.

For them, it may not necessarily be for the enjoyment of the service. It is mainly due to the efficiency they experience as a result of these interactions.

HOW TO WIN YOUR CUSTOMERS’ HEARTS WITH AI

Seeing that customers want it, and there are potential benefits for your business, implementing AI is the only logical thing to do.

But it’s not just about implementing AI. You have to do it correctly.

The mentioned study by Capgemini shows that it is not merely AI that will do it.

There are two additional ingredients the study referred to as “the secret” for winning customers’ hearts.

Here are the two ingredients.

Be Transparent

Consumers are recognizing AI interactions and their benefits.

Having embraced them, they prefer being informed what kind of interaction they are having. 65% of the respondents from UK said organizations should explicitly state whether the interactions are AI-enabled.

They would like to know right from the beginning whether they are interacting with a human or a machine.

This means the communication has to be provided before the interaction starts.

A good way of doing this is by identifying the chat agent in the case of chat support.

This can be achieved by using a message such as, “Hi, I am ABC’s bot. How can I help you?”

Alternatively, instead of the words, you can make use of an image.

As you would normally have the picture of the human agent on the chat box, use a robot’s image.

This would automatically communicate the type of interaction.

If offering support via phone, it is generally a lot easier to detect a computer from the way the conversation happens.

Still, advances in technology may blur the distinction.

Having the AI bot do an introduction is the best solution.

But as always, you can do it in any other way as long as you make the communication to consumers.

Make Interactions More Human-Like

When computers take over a customer support interaction, some signs are given off that the other party is not human.

On top of the need for transparency as stated above, more consumers want AI to be capable of more human-like qualities.

For example, during a support call, customers prefer AI that sounds human.

62% of respondents said they want more human-like voices and intellect.

A further 57% said they would like AI to have the ability to understand human emotions and respond accordingly.

Closely related to that, more than half of the respondents said that AI which can show empathy would be better. 54% said that AI should have human-like behaviors and personality.

Of course these preferences and demands only mean more research and work into the AI field.

That will increase costs of implementing AI. But the important thing to note is that these are the voices of consumers.

That said, you can still implement AI with little pressure.

You don’t have to wait till all the advances are available. Neither do you need to wait for the costs to come down.

What you should do is get a scalable solution.

Whichever solution you go for, ensure it can grow with you. This way, new features can be included in the already-installed solution.

CONCLUSION

AI is an investment which you cannot ignore. It is an investment into the future of customer experience.

Come up with a team to spearhead its implementation.

Communicate the vision to your staff then start implementing in small manageable portions.

The Secret to Winning Customers’ Hearts with AI

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