The digital revolution has seen a huge number of advantages for every sector and industry in recent years. Businesses have been given the ability to engage more easily and effectively with their customers than ever before. While interaction has increased significantly, a new level of disconnect between the business and the customer is also very apparent. Instead of heading to a physical store, customers are now faced with businesses that hide behind a screen.
This technology overhaul has given companies a new challenge, of how to capture the hearts of their customers and gain their loyalty without any human connection or interaction. It is easy for businesses of all sizes and industries to get bought into the ease and convenience of the digital world, but it should not be used to compromise connecting with customers on a human level.
In the past, in many industries it was necessary for a customer to walk into a store to have any kind of interaction with a business. They were required to look around, admire the store displays, pick up the products and speak to the staff. This is a hands-on experience where customers got a real feel for the business, its products and its people, something which is difficult to recreate in this digital age.
Relatively new businesses seem to be the most successful at creating a human relationship with their customers, an area which more established companies have struggled with. Big names such as Uber, Deliveroo and Airbnb have managed to build themselves a strong following and customer base through the use of a well-planned digital strategy and personalisation. It sounds like a simple solution but in reality, it takes a large amount of time to build human relationships, and this is just as true for brands as it is for an individual’s personal life. There are no shortcuts for creating these relationships with customers, and a brand must build trust and authenticity gradually by consistently pleasing their customers. This may be achieved by greeting them personally, offering relevant and targeted content or having a social media presence that connects with them on a medium they are familiar with.
Basic steps such as properly greeting customers when they make an interaction, whether it is on a website, email or other digital method, will provide them with a sense of loyalty towards your brand and make them feel like a valued customer. Generic marketing messages are no longer good enough, businesses need to be authentic to stand out and make a positive impression. In addition to this, products and offers displayed to customers should be targeted and relevant to that user. Displaying a targeted offering that fits an individual’s needs will avoid them shopping around or leaving the website because they can’t find what they are looking for. It will also give customers the idea that you understand them and their needs, connecting with them on a more human level.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning can be utilised to help businesses create these humanised digital experiences and offer an overall increased service to customers. Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence that uses pattern recognition and data-based algorithms to solve specific tasks and problems. Machine learning is becoming increasingly popular across a range of industries, and a huge amount of companies are pouring their resources into the technology. Large amounts of raw data is being collected on a daily basis and using sophisticated and powerful analytics tools can provide useful insights. Any industry that has access to a high volume of accurate historical records, are perfectly suited for artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Machine learning can be used to provide customers with applications that understand what they want and then help them to achieve that goal. This gives business the opportunity to provide contextually relevant insights by using similar customer segments, that are fully personalised specifically for each individual. Technology such as chat bots and virtual assistants can provide a more human level to customer interactions, and machine learning can be used to create a personal and interactive dialogue that is specific to each customers’ individual needs. Most successful bots have some attributes that resemble a humans’ interaction and personality, and they work best when people interact with them as if they are a human. This allows the computer to apply the conventions of natural conversation instead of confronting the user with unnatural dialogue.
The technology is improving at a fast pace and is already being used by many large companies across the globe including the online loan industry. Theunis Rensburg of Wonga.co.za explains
“Traditionally, predictive modelling techniques have mostly been used in credit businesses for scoring purposes, today’s reality is different – if you’ve got the data you can employ predictive models to optimize any part of your business.”
It is becoming apparent to many industries with large amounts of data that machine learning has a wealth of benefits for recreating human interactions within the digital world. It is a tool that until recently was available only to high technology and computer science companies, but it is rapidly coming within reach of businesses all over the globe. We can expect to see a huge increase in the amount of machine learning and artificial intelligence applications being used in the future.