Using AI to Turn One-Time Customers Into Loyal Brand Ambassadors
One of the biggest challenges for retailers is not acquiring customers, but keeping them. Loyal brand ambassadors are the backbone of growth. However, building long-term interest in a brand is no easy feat. Customers want personalized experiences and services that make them feel that they are the most important customer. A 2018 Bond Brand Loyalty Report found that 87 percent of people say they're open to having various details of their shopping activity monitored in exchange for more personalized rewards and brand experiences. Consumers value convenience, time saved and flexibility, and they will shop around for companies that can give them just that.
In addition, customers want white glove treatment should a problem arise. Even one negative experience can have a customer switch their allegiance to another retailer. Efficient customer support has become a true competitive differentiator, and businesses have an opportunity to stay ahead of the pack if they act quickly. A recent Vanson Bourne survey found that less than 50 percent of customers considered their recent retail interaction to be excellent or very good, which gives retailers a new goal to meet.
With customer experience becoming a key success factor, businesses are turning to new technology solutions to help them quickly scale, improve responsiveness and increase conversion rates. Artificial intelligence-powered chatbots, for example, are helping retailers be more responsive to requests and can even offer customers a concierge-like experience by providing personalized suggestions based on browse history, previous purchases, etc. While these chatbots are delivering highly intelligent self-service, they're also working behind the scenes for the customer service teams, gathering pertinent information about the customer and the question or issue to help agents provide quick and personalized support from the get-go.
So how is AI helping retailers build brand loyalty today? Here are just a few ways:
- Offering 24/7 Service: Most online shoppers aren’t browsing during normal business hours. And when they have a question, waiting until the next business day to respond could mean losing the sale altogether. Chatbots are helping retailers be available to their shoppers 24/7, answering the most frequently asked questions with ease and helping to ensure customers are getting what they need when they're ready to buy.
- Creating a Concierge Experience: As AI continues to evolve, it’s starting to move away from handling simple questions and into acting as a customer’s personal assistant — e.g., providing personalized recommendations, reminding shoppers of sales to help them save, providing content to help with decision making, and much more. This level of proactivity means retailers don’t have to wait for the customer to engage, but can start building relationships by delivering information at the right time and in the right way.
- Freeing Up Human Agents: With all this talk about AI, what about the human agent? Individuals still play a pivotal role in the overall customer experience, however, they're being leveraged in a different, more strategic way. Most customers hate waiting on hold, especially when they're having a problem. AI removes the need for customers with simple questions to clog up the human agent queue and allows customer service teams to spend more time with the customers that need them most. Human agents are then not only in a better position to resolve issues faster, but can spend the time to turn a negative experience into a positive one.
So are customers really on board chatting with bots? The Vanson Bourne study revealed that more than half of customers agree that AI is changing customer experience for the better. I suspect this number will grow as the technology evolves and becomes more mainstream.
Today’s AI is all about delivering customers an intelligent and frictionless experience throughout their entire purchase journey. When customers feel valued, they continue to come back again and again.
Ryan Lester is director of customer engagement technologies at LogMeIn, a provider of SaaS and cloud-based remote connectivity services for collaboration, IT management and customer engagement.
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