03 May How AI Helps Drive Customer Engagement in the Digital Age
Customer engagement is a nuanced business function that’s evolved significantly over the past few years. A shift towards digital media and online interactions has forced brands to rediscover their target consumers. What drives them to make purchasing decisions? What influences their loyalty to a particular brand?
More than half of businesses recently surveyed by eMarketer reported customer engagement as one of their highest-priority business objectives, which they’re pursuing by enhancing the customer experience. Engagement has become one of the thornier hurdles for brands fighting for attention in brick-and-mortar or online ecosystems.
No two customer journeys are the same. However, brands can use a variety of digital tools to establish a framework to leverage data-driven marketing and operational strategies based on certain customer commonalities. AI-powered software and tools enhance the effectiveness of data analytics, which in turn enables companies to be more successful when they go fishing for customers or conversions.
Digital tools for customer engagement
Digital tools can build on established systems and best practices to drive brand longevity. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems are cornerstones of any customer engagement strategy. These systems are collections of software apps, processes, and other functionalities that help brands optimize their operations and profitability by examining consumer buying habits, demographics, and emerging trends.
Selecting an ERP system with robust CRM integration capabilities can help bridge the gap between straightforward quantitative business operations and more qualitative aspects of customer experience (CX). Access to powerful customer insights can help stakeholders at all levels better understand and operate the parts of a business that drive sales and retain customers: inventory management, finance, marketing, and customer engagement.
The rise of artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is becoming increasingly integral to business applications across a variety of industries. Insights derived from cloud-based ERPs CRMs, and marketing automation platforms, are all supported by AI algorithms today. This allows for the seamless automation of lower-level tasks that take up a lot of time and divert attention away from broader customer engagement strategies.
Businesses use AI for customer engagement in a variety of ways. For example, chatbots can be used as internal or externally-facing virtual assistants. Chatbots have already taken the retail world by storm, but they can also connect to ERPs to track expense reporting or assist with project management or be deployed to automate FAQs and support tickets and augment customer service teams or streamline checkout processes. The data extrapolated from sources like these, when assessed by AI can be invaluable to a business because they provide key insights into potential customer retention issues a human might otherwise miss in vast volumes of information.
Marketing Land reported the AI market in the U.S. is expected to grow at an annualized growth rate of around 50 percent through 2021. Author and digital analyst Brian Solis was quoted as saying, “It’s those who understand how to use AI in new ways, to create new mindsets and paradigms, that will instill a competitive advantage that wasn’t there before.” Even in its most basic form, AI can teach companies to better communicate with their customers. AI’s potential to impact both internal business operations and external customer relationships is seemingly limitless.
Customer engagement is a holistic practice. Gaining more knowledge into the inner workings of a company can help you develop a more nuanced understanding of what differentiates your business from your competitors, and how that knowledge can inform your customer engagement strategies. AI is fast becoming one of the most powerful tools in the CX toolbox. It will only continue to grow in significance as more software solutions incorporate it, and as consumer interactions become increasingly digitized.