Tag Archives: customer relationships

AI Can Help Attract, Retain and Grow Customer Relationships

AI Can Help Attract, Retain and Grow Customer Relationships

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

How do you know what your customers want if they don’t tell you? It’s more than sending surveys and interpreting data. Joe Tyrrell is the CEO of Medallia, a company that helps its customers tailor experiences through “intelligent personalization” and automation. I had a chance to interview him on Amazing Business Radio and he shared how smart companies are using AI to build and retain customer relationships. Below are some of his comments followed by my commentary:

  • The generative AI momentum is so widespread that 85% of executives say the technology will be interacting directly with customers in the next two years. AI has been around for longer than most people realize. When a customer is on a website that makes suggestions, when they interact with a chatbot or get the best answers to frequently asked questions, they are interacting with AI-infused technology, whether they know it or not.
  • While most executives want to use AI, they don’t know how they want to use it, the value it will bring and the problems it will solve. In other words, they know they want to use it, but don’t know how (yet). Tyrrell says, “Most organizations don’t know how they are going to use AI responsibly and ethically, and how they will use it in a way that doesn’t introduce unintended consequences, and even worse, unintended bias.” There needs to be quality control and oversight to ensure that AI is meeting the goals and intentions of the company or brand.
  • Generative AI is different than traditional AI. According to Tyrrell, the nature of generative AI is to, “Give me something in real time while I’m interacting with it.” In other words, it’s not just finding answers. It’s communicating with me, almost like human-to-human. When you ask it to clarify a point, it knows exactly how to respond. This is quite different from a traditional search bar on a website—or even a Google search.
  • AI’s capability to personalize the customer experience will be the focus of the next two years. Based on the comment about how AI technology currently interacts with customers, I asked Tyrrell to be more specific about how AI will be used. His answer was focused on personalization. The data we extract from multiple sources will allow for personalization like never before. According to Tyrrell, 82% of consumers say a personalized experience will influence which brand they end up purchasing from in at least half of all shopping situations. The question isn’t whether a company should personalize the customer experience. It is what happens if they don’t.
  • Personalization isn’t about being seen as a consumer, but as a person. That’s the goal of personalization. Medallia’s North Star, which guides all its decisions and investments, is its mission to personalize every customer experience. What makes this a challenge is the word every. If customers experience this one time but the next time the brand acts as if they don’t recognize them, all the work from the previous visit along with the credibility built with the customer is eroded.
  • The next frontier of AI is interpreting social feedback. Tyrrell is excited about Medallia’s future focus. “Surveys may validate information,” says Tyrrell, “but it is often what’s not said that can be just as important, if not even more so.” Tyrrell talked about Medallia’s capability to look everywhere, outside of surveys and social media comments, reviews and ratings, where customers traditionally express themselves. There is behavioral feedback, which Tyrrell refers to as social feedback, not to be confused with social media feedback. Technology can track customer behavior on a website. What pages do they spend the most time on? How do they use the mouse to navigate the page? Tyrell says, “Wherever people are expressing themselves, we capture the information, aggregate it, translate it, interpret it, correlate it and then deliver insights back to our customers.” This isn’t about communicating with customers about customer support issues. It’s mining data to understand customers and make products and experiences better.

Tyrrell’s insights emphasize the opportunities for AI to support the relationship a company or brand has with its customers. The future of customer engagement will be about an experience that creates customer connection. Even though technology is driving the experience, customers appreciate being known and recognized when they return. Tyrrell and I joked about the theme song from the TV sitcom Cheers, which debuted in 1982 and lasted 11 seasons. But it really isn’t a joke at all. It’s what customers want, and it’s so simple. As the song title suggests, customers want to go to a place Where Everybody Knows Your Name.

Image Credits: Unsplash

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