- 17th July 2018
- Posted by: Manolis
- Category: Blockchain
In today’s competitive e-commerce environment, personalizing the customer experience is the number one priority: To drive conversion, the right message needs to be sent to the right person at the right time. How do you accomplish that? Increasingly, AI is emerging as the best way to offer a truly one-to-one experience to customers. A Gartner study notes that “by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human” and that by 2040, “more than 40% of all data analytics projects will relate to an aspect of customer experience.” So what does that look like?
Through my work with Lumen (part of Sonepar), a leading distributor of electrical material, we met with several electrical contractors who expressed frustration with online product ordering systems. The problem: You’re on a job, looking at a part that may have been installed several years ago. The entire plant is waiting for you to resume work, but how do find the correct replacement without going through hundreds of thousands of SKUs?
This is where visual search comes in. With a smartphone and deep learning technologies offered by companies such as Clarifai, Google, and Flashwell, customers can take pictures of the products they’re searching for and then e-commerce sites interpret the images and make product recommendations. According to a June 2017 eMarketer report, 52% of consumers have trouble finding the exact products they’re seeking online, but 68% are willing to consider alternatives if their desired product cannot be found. So AI can also help consumers discover new brands.
If you doubt that visual search is a solid element of our e-commerce future, consider that Pinterest inked a visual search deal with Target last fall and that a recent TechCrunch report revealed that Snapchat is working on visual search partnership with Amazon. “Project Eagle” integrates visual search into the Snapchat app so that users will be able to take a picture or capture a barcode which will then be sent to Amazon, where the data will be transformed into product recommendations. Expect to see visual search expand as it becomes a revenue driver not just for e-commerce sites, but for their partners.
Enter The Chatbot
Visual search is quickly becoming a must-have, but it’s not the only AI tool you should have in your customer service arsenal. What happens when your customer needs to find a product very quickly or, post-purchase, needs information on assembly or installation? With so many SKUs to keep track of and so much technical information to digest, call center agents will find it difficult to solve problems with delays and errors.
Chatbots can simulate human interactions and provide personalized responses 24/7. With fewer resources and margins that become thinner every day, being able to reduce the cost and improve the quality of the customer experience is a silver bullet for e-commerce companies. According to Chatbots Magazine, businesses can reduce customer service costs by as much as 30% with virtual agents and chatbots.
But it’s essential to take a baby-step approach, using the chatbot first to route calls to the correct expert so that you can spend less time understanding their needs and more time improving their knowledge. Blending bot and human interaction is key to creating the ultimate CX. You can also feed the data you collect into a CRM solution. Salesforce’s AI technology, called Einstein, uses machine learning algorithms to analyze customer conversations as they happen. Centralizing that data to deliver a connected customer experience across every touchpoint throughout the customer lifecycle will help you anticipate your customer’s’ needs and keep them loyal.
Personalizing The User Experience
With all of the data collected with AI tools, it becomes far easier to personalize the user experience. Take, for example, the dilemma of the electrical contractors at Lumen. With the help of AI, if I know that the user is a contractor who does mainly residential work, I can now adapt his experience based on what he might need for his next job, and I can help him plan his order. And if I know his purchase history and take into account the weather (if he buys products for outside installations, he won’t order them if it rains) and other geopolitical events (i.e. a new tax on metal), this will help me predict his orders. In turn, this impacts how AI will help manage my inventory and logistics overall.
In an increasingly complex and competitive world, where customers have many choices and are more likely than ever to make their purchasing decisions based upon customer service, it’s imperative that companies make CX a priority. AI is quickly becoming the number one way for them to ensure their place in the future of e-commerce.