AI’s Deep Dive into Customer Desires
- AI personalization. AI-driven tools enable highly personalized customer journeys, tailoring content and interactions to individual preferences and behaviors.
- Generative impact. Generative AI revolutionizes customer service with natural conversations and contextual understanding, significantly enhancing user experience.
- Predictive analytics. AI and predictive analytics are reshaping customer service by accurately forecasting needs and behaviors, leading to deeply customized experiences.
In an era where customer expectations are continually evolving, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a pivotal force in reshaping the customer journey. From revolutionizing marketing strategies to enhancing customer support with sophisticated chatbots, AI is not just redefining the standards of customer engagement but also setting new benchmarks for business intelligence and operational efficiency. This article will examine the transformative role of AI on the customer journey in 2024, looking at how it personalizes experiences, automates customer service interactions and provides deep insights into customer behavior.
Isabelle Guis, CEO and global CMO at Brevo, North America, a CRM suite solution provider, told CMSWire that customers have become more digitally savvy and have higher expectations. “In 2024, marketing teams need to stand out with a more granular micro-segmentation, highly personalized content, and better predictions of the customers’ next touch point over the right channel at the right time.” Guis said that AI enables teams to execute at scale, increasing precision in the segmentation, using fewer resources to create more customized content, and improving the engagement flow for optimum customer satisfaction and higher engagement levels.
Generative AI Is Still the Headliner … so Far
Generative AI is continuing to transform the customer journey in 2024 by enabling more personalized, proactive and frictionless experiences. Chatbots that are based on large language models can now hold natural conversations, understand context and sentiment, and access vast knowledge to resolve customer issues instantly. These chatbots are able to initiate and guide self-service interactions, while intelligently escalating complex inquiries, reducing wait times and speeding up resolutions.
Heidi Williams, head of engineering for Grammarly Business, an AI-powered enterprise writing assistant, told CMSWire that although the first wave of generative AI was all about quickly creating new content, the next phase will be about refining that content to move beyond generic text toward more tailored and relevant output. “We’ll see a significant investment shift toward hyper personalizing gen AI through greater application of company, personal, and customer context and insights. This will be essential to realize AI’s transformative value, and those providers that nail personalization with an eye to security and privacy will have the advantage.” This personalization of content creation will enable brands to more seamlessly and easily create content that resonates with customers.
Behind the scenes, generative AI facilitates next-best conversational flows, predicts high-risk customer scenarios, and generates new engagement strategies. Models are continuously being updated through reinforcement learning across customer touchpoints. This empowers brands to optimize journeys in the moment based on customer signals.
Itamar Falcon, CEO and co-founder of Coho AI, a product-led revenue platform provider, told CMSWire that the CX landscape will be dramatically reshaped by two AI-driven trends in 2024. “First, there’s the impact of Gen AI, which has been pivotal in 2023 and will continue to shape 2024. A range of tools such as ChatGPT, MidJourney, and various AI video generators are revolutionizing content creation. They enable us to respond quickly and efficiently, crafting highly tailored and engaging content. This speed and adaptability in content production allow for more streamlined and responsive customer interactions.”
Related Article: Customer Journey Orchestration in the Age of AI
AI and Predictive Analytics Get Personal
“The second significant trend is the advancement in predictive behavior, segmentation, and AI-based interactions,” said Falcon. “This movement, which began in recent years, has taken a giant leap forward recently. Now, we’re not just reacting to customer needs; we’re anticipating them. AI technologies are enabling us to analyze and predict user behavior in ways we couldn’t before.” Falcon said that this leads to hyper-personalized customer journeys where interactions are not just based on general details but are finely tuned to each individual’s behaviors and preferences.
The combination of AI and predictive analytics is enabling a deeper understanding of customer needs and predictive capabilities that go beyond marketing personalization. Businesses can now leverage these insights to tailor product development, optimize inventory and dynamically price. “The evolution in predictive AI allows us to understand and interact with customers on a much deeper level,” said Falcon. “The synergy of these two trends means that in 2024, two people could use the same app and have entirely different, personalized experiences. This shows how AI is not only enhancing customer experience, but fundamentally changing it.”
Jing Huang, senior director of engineering and machine learning at SurveyMonkey, told CMSWire that according to research by SurveyMonkey, 86% of CX and digital marketing professionals said their customers receive a personalized experience all or most of the time throughout the entire customer journey; however, only 8% of consumers felt that they received a consistently personalized experience. “As we look at how AI can be leveraged to improve customer experiences in 2024, it will be essential for business leaders and marketers to recognize the disruptive potential of AI and how it can alter their business’s long-term trajectory positively — for instance, helping align the customer experience they’re delivering with their customer journey.”
Real-time analytics on current customer behavior, paired with predictive models of future needs, empower more agile product pipelines. Rather than developing based on historical data alone, generative algorithms identify emerging requirements, underserved segments, and opportunities to differentiate. Products can then be iterated matched to predicted trends even before new markets materialize.
Sean Mackay, founder of Growth Wave, a digital marketing agency, told CMSWire that AI’s role in enhancing personalized customer engagement is particularly notable. “We implemented AI-driven analytics mid-2023 and have gained the ability to dissect and interpret vast amounts of customer data, leading to the development of highly tailored marketing strategies that have seen a 20% uptick in engagement in just six months.”
Mackay said that this personalization isn’t just confined to marketing; it extends into the very nature of sales and account management. “Insights into customer preferences and behaviors, provided by AI, are invaluable in crafting customized sales pitches and solutions, ensuring each client interaction is as relevant and impactful as possible,” said Mackay. “Our pitches now are so more insightful and about half the size.”
Predictive demand modeling aids inventory planning by forecasting best-selling configurations, including custom options. An AI system analyzes leading indicators in customer data, economic trends, demographics shifts and more to recommend optimal stock levels across locations. This tailors inventory to customers based on predicted purchase preferences for highly personalized, efficient fulfillment.
Pricing is also becoming dynamic and personalized as algorithms generate optimized price points for different customer cohorts in real-time. Factoring in willingness-to-pay indicators, and leveraging reinforcement learning, customized pricing is now able to maximize margin while maintaining satisfaction. Personalized promotions can even be tailored to purchase cycle milestones predicted by AI for each shopper.
Christy Pyrz, CMO at Paradigm Peptides, a SARMS, peptides and nootropics retailer, told CMSWire that although most hyper-personalization efforts that involve AI have been focused on initial marketing engagement, it is now revolutionizing the customer journey by creating tailored pathways for each individual customer all the way to conversion. “Just like the pain points and needs differ for each customer, so do their habits in what information they look for as well as the pages they access as they travel along the sales funnel.”
“AI can identify patterns of behavior based on customer engagement, provide links to the website pages they utilize most, send additional relevant information, and make tailored suggestions and recommendations on products,” said Pyrz, who suggested that it is in AI’s ability to hyper-personalize the entire customer journey all the way to conversion, which is increasing effectiveness and revolutionizing marketing.
Related Article: The Old Customer Journey & the Impact of AI
AI Further Enhances Customer Service
AI is significantly transforming customer service across industries, notably in enhancing resolution times, boosting customer satisfaction and reducing the need for human intervention. At the forefront of this transformation is the use of AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants. These tools are designed to understand customer queries through natural language processing (NLP) and provide immediate, accurate responses. By handling more routine and frequently asked questions, they are able to free up human agents to tackle more complex issues, thereby speeding up resolution times.
“The integration of AI into customer support through chatbots and virtual assistants will also be a game-changer,” said Mackay. “It will allow for instant, 24/7 support, ensuring that customer queries are addressed promptly, thereby significantly enhancing the customer’s after sales journey.” Mackay said that this is especially crucial in a tech-driven industry where timely responses can make a substantial difference in client satisfaction and retention.
That said, AI still has a considerable way to go when it comes to customer preferences and perception. A 2023 SurveyMonkey report, AI in the Customer Experience, revealed that 90% of consumers prefer to get customer service from a human rather than a chatbot, stating that humans understand their needs better, provide more thorough explanations, are less likely to frustrate them, and can provide them with more options to address their problems.
Sentiment analysis is another AI feature that is revolutionizing customer service. By gauging the mood and tone of customer communications, AI can identify unhappy customers early and route them to the right agents or intervention strategies, aiming to resolve issues before they escalate. In all these ways, AI is not just automating customer service; it’s making it more efficient, personalized, and preemptive, thereby enhancing both resolution times and customer satisfaction while reducing the reliance on human agents.
Dave Hoekstra, product evangelist at Calabrio, a cloud-based contact center platform provider, told CMSWire that AI’s impact on the contact center workforce will be transformative over the next 10 years. “Contrary to concerns about job displacement, a resounding 70% of contact center managers believe that the number of agents will increase. This forecast indicates that AI will serve to augment human abilities, creating a heightened demand for well-trained agents proficient in working alongside AI technologies and efficiently engaging with customers.”
“AI will be the driving force behind the cultivation of a continuous learning culture within contact centers in the coming year, enhancing agents’ critical thinking abilities,” said Hoekstra. “Recognizing the role of adaptability, contact center managers will allocate funds to training initiatives that empower agents to adjust to evolving challenges, and recognize these skills as essential for future productivity.”
Future Trends and Evolving Technologies Will Continue to Impact CX
Matt Bentley, chief data scientist at Scorpion, a marketing and technology services company, told CMSWire that just as the advent of modern search engines and ubiquitous mobile computing shifted consumer expectations for being able to obtain whatever information they want, when they want, AI will further accelerate the quest for answers. Bentley suggested that it’s no longer enough to have a powerful device in one’s pocket that is capable of retrieving thousands of pages of information on any topic in the world in under a second.
“With AI chat interfaces such as Google Bard and Bing AI, consumers will also expect to not have to read those pages themselves, but instead get an AI summary precisely conveying the information pertinent to their question.”
Other trends and evolving technologies that will continue to add to the ways that AI impacts the customer journey include:
- Multimodal AI – Al systems will combine vision, voice and language capabilities to understand customers more holistically across service channels. Analyzing facial expressions, tone of voice and language use during conversations will give richer insights to enhance experiences.
- Edge Computing – By deploying AI directly on devices closer to customers instead of the cloud, interactions can happen in real time without latency while protecting privacy. This will enable more seamless, secure experiences.
- Causal ML – New machine learning techniques will go beyond correlations to determine cause-and-effect from data. This will empower more targeted recommendations and journey optimization.
- Explainable AI – As AI transparently explains its rationale and recommendations to users, it builds trust in autonomous systems for higher user adoption and satisfaction.
- AI Creativity – Generative algorithms will be able to synthesize novel ideas, copy, designs and more to drive innovation across organizations. Creative AI will help brands deliver always-fresh experiences.
“Looking ahead to 2024, the potential for AI to further refine and enhance the customer journey is vast,” said Mackay. “The continued evolution of AI promises even more sophisticated and nuanced insights into customer needs and preferences. This will not only streamline the sales and account management processes but also elevate the entire customer experience.” Mackay suggested that it’s clear that the integration of AI in the customer journey is not just a trend but a fundamental shift in how businesses interact with and understand their customers.
As AI continues to rapidly evolve, it is transforming every touchpoint of the customer journey — from intuitive conversational interfaces to truly personalized product recommendations and predictive support. By infusing customer interactions with deeper insights, emotional intelligence and timely anticipation of needs, AI is setting a new standard for customer experiences. The customer journey of the future will be defined by this human-centric approach to AI that enhances rather than replaces human judgment and empathy.