Artificial Intelligence and CX

21 March 2019 Helen Evans

IBM AI and CX event

I can’t help it; when I hear ‘Artificial Intelligence’ I still immediately think of robots. The friendly kind, but robots nonetheless. Now, I realise this isn’t what AI is all about, but I, like many others, still do not understand this large, daunting, and ever-growing field. For example, did you know that data has now overtaken oil to be the most valuable resource we can get our hands on? I didn’t, but on hearing this, I realised I needed to learn more, much more.


I decided to do something about this lack of knowledge. This morning, thanks to IBM Watson’s AI Inspiration Series, I learnt more about AI and how it’s being used to huge advantage in the marketing industry. I was in good hands, with presentations from Gus Quiroga, AI Leader A/NZ, Watson Customer Engagement, Jeff Clark, Chief Strategy Officer, MicroChannel and Alexander Mahr, Head of Strategy, Watson Customer Engagement AP, as well as an insightful discussion panel featuring Jonathan Waecker, CMO, The Warehouse Group (New Zealand’s largest retail group), Oliver Rees, Chief Analytics Officer, Virgin Velocity Frequent Flyer and Michelle Rappaport, Head of Member Marketing & Communications, HCF Australia.

AI can capture data, segment your audience, unify systems and personalise your output. It can identify, understand, fix your CX problems and even suggest how to go the extra mile to really please your customers. Now, this all sounds a bit scary, but when you break it down it’s actually really achievable; even on a small scale. 


So, here are my key learnings:

It’s all about data. Obviously.
Therefore the quality of your AI will be reliant on the quality of your data. AI is only smart if you feed it the right data, and then give it time to learn. Often the first step in introducing AI to your marketing strategy is to clean and streamline the data you already possess. Make sure your data is all in one place, ready, useable and relevant to your customer's needs!

Start small.

You don’t necessarily need a huge budget or massive customer base for AI to make a positive impact on your marketing activities. Understanding your customers better, finding one reoccurring customer journey error or optimising your eDM subject lines could result in more successful campaigns and better CX.

Sell into the threats in your business.

Find a small problem to fix; even a 1% difference can provide savings for your organisation and therefore a dollar value to report to your finance team. This is likely to make them kinder when you ask them for the budget towards the next stage of your AI project!

The intelligence may be artificial, but your audience is not.

Remain customer-centric and know your value proposition. Learn about your customer; what matters most to them? For example, Rees talked about the importance of redeeming rather than earning Frequent Flyer points, and how this is a key driver for members of the program.

The weather and traffic can make a difference, so use it to your advantage.

This is the role of hyper-personalisation which can be achieved through IBM WeatherFX, location services and local traffic data. Using this type of data can enable your marketing team to create up-to-the-minute timely ads and content. A good example of how this could create a great customer experience is in the travel industry where such insights can provide an opportunity to go that extra mile and recommend your customer leave extra time to get to the airport as the rain is causing traffic jams. 

There are some issues.

One such issue discussed was how to use AI to create personalised, targeted messaging without narrowing your information so much that you miss out on demonstrating the full depth and breadth of your brand and market offering. A good example made in reference to this was about customers who purchased toilet seats (or other rarely purchase goods) from The Warehouse. Once the loo seat has been bought, the customer doesn’t want to receive ad after ad of others available! Whilst being a recent purchase, this doesn’t reflect their typical buying behaviour, so retargeting ads are pretty pointless. 

Finally, the robot thing really is real.

Connie works for Hilton Hotels, and she was arguably the first AI-powered concierge bot - Go Connie!

Connie - the first AI-powered concierge bot

For more information on AI and how it can help you improve the CX of your brand, take a look at IBM Watson.