A few weeks ago, I called my broadband provider for intermittent outages. The helpful customer service representative looked at my account and happily told me that I could save money by switching to a different plan. A few minutes later, I had changed my plan to one that cost half and offered comparable speeds. At first, I was happy. Then I got upset. Because I realized that no customer service team really proactively looks out for my well-being before I raise an issue.
AI and the new era of customer advocacy
AI and the new age of customer advocacy are when AI can treat every customer like royalty, just as they expected. But unfortunately, proactively advocating on behalf of clients has so far been costly and not easy to scale due to reliance on humans.
Also, it was easier to classify problems because, frankly, in the short term, companies were getting higher revenue from ignorant customers. Now customers know everything and expect to be treated like royalty. Therefore, companies must change their primary focus on customer experience and support. Modern artificial intelligence will drive that change.
Customers already have AI-powered options with challenging adverse invoice solutions.
Arguing with your customers is bad business, let alone arguing with your outside AI advocates.
Delighting customers by showing them that you truly put them first with proactive actions and personalized attention is the best way to create long-term customer value. The only way to do this effectively and at scale is to leverage artificial intelligence to make customer advocacy a core internal value and competency. In the past, companies had the excuse that proactive communication of business policies with customers was not scalable.
AI removes that fig leaf by making personalized customer advocacy inexpensive, unavoidable, and desirable at zero marginal cost. This tectonic shift will open up many new business models and leave many older business models in the graveyard. This is what this new reality might look like.
AI makes cognitive tasks free, that changes everything.
The sea change AI brings to business transactions is making a previously expensive resource, cognitive function, almost free.
As described in the book “Prediction machines “ by three brilliant economists from the University of Toronto, the superpower of artificial intelligence makes predictions free.
Today’s AI can do a good job selecting clothes that suit her tastes, based on past purchases and anonymous purchases from other people who share her likes and dislikes. Additionally, there are a growing number of AI-powered personal shopping assistants, such as “The Yes” and Beyond, which match stylists to customer feedback and apply artificial intelligence to create ever-better recommendations.
Conversational AI powers retail chatbots that guide customers to smarter choices. Also, the cost of serving one customer or 1 million customers is nearly identical, so the marginal cost of each new interaction is zero.
When what was once expensive becomes free, it causes major economic disruption and realigns market power in surprising ways.
Think about what happened when the smartphone absorbed the GPS, camera and radio, or when detailed maps and traffic data were freely available at no cost with Google Maps. These shifts to discontinued legacy businesses – free or near free – created new opportunities, such as ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft and crowdsource traffic mapping company Waze.
Intelligent AI will perform sophisticated defense
A smart AI today could easily book a flight based on your categorized stop preferences, airport choice, distance from destination, price, and departure or arrival time.
Your AI travel agent knows this.
In the very near future, an AI travel agent would know that you would like to go to Hawaii and would prefer that Maui leave on Thursday and return on Sunday night. Your AI travel agent would alert you when flights meet your financial criteria of falling below $ 500 RT and you will reserve a room at a hotel near your favorite beach. (If this sounds like your old human travel agent, that’s because it basically is.)
Your personal AI concierge
An AI could serve as a personal concierge, alerting you to concerts you might like in your area or books to be published that suit your tastes.
Think about this:
Taking the scenario one step further, an AI could save you from a bad decision. For example, after checking past prices for flights to Hawaii and booking trends at nearby hotels, after negotiating with a hotel’s AI for a special room rate, the AI might say, “Wait, don’t book that flight. There’s likely another flight deal this month, and your favorite hotel is booked for the weekend you’re thinking of, so why not wait for the next deal? I already have a triple upgrade to your favorite room. ”
The foundations of AI as a consumer advocate and partner are already taking shape
In the case of my Internet provider, an AI can periodically review what you are paying for, what you are consuming and go out to find the best deals, negotiating on your behalf.
Human-driven analogies of this are already taking shape. Trim, BillShark, and TrueBill offer cable, phone, and many other bill negotiation services that rely on a smarter data backend to help human experts. These trading services are beginning to build a data repository to train AI systems.
The data will not only be on prices, but also on how to negotiate. Trim, for example, also uses smart artificial intelligence and crowdsourcing to proactively request a bill credit when a subscriber’s internet goes down, even if they don’t notice it or request a refund themselves.
Entrepreneurs are applying basic AI to enable people to tackle more complicated tasks quickly and easily.
Various startups can defend consumers by contesting parking tickets or filing small lawsuits in many states. However, these are confrontational relationships that can cause real damage to the relationship.
Why Customer Advocacy AI Is Unavoidable
Because consumer AI will talk to merchant AI, then there is no need for standardized products or pricing.
In this era, we finally realize the massive personalization of retail and consumer services, driven preferences enlightened through the intelligent use of AI. At the same time, this consumer advocate AI could supplant many of the most cumbersome and adverse unpleasant interactions between customers and the brands they use.
At the highest level, as my friendly cable company customer service representative, AI will act internally as the advocate and voice of the customer on an individualized level.
By making customer focus truly programmatic and creating algorithms specifically for this task, companies will elevate customer advocacy from a second-tier program to one that informs business strategy. As a result, the business strategy will drive product design and development with constantly updated feedback based on real behaviors and interactions.
At the same time, companies must optimize their products and support to allow customers to choose external AI (if they so choose). Companies can empower that form of interaction through APIs and other forms of conversations between customer AI and internal support AI.
How to Survive and Thrive in the Age of AI Customer Advocacy
Envisioning a future where AI talks to AI enables our personal advocates to constantly scan the horizon for our well-being. This type of AI customer advocacy will negotiate on our behalf with superior knowledge and lead to some wholesale changes to business models and customer engagement mechanisms.
The first part of the old world to disappear will be tedious, time-consuming, and unpleasant tasks.
Some of the tasks that we will not miss will be running long registration processes or haggling prices or promotional plans. Next, we will download cognitively intensive but narrowly focused tasks that rely heavily on past tastes or stated preferences. These tasks include things like shopping for clothes, planning a trip, or finding the best doctor or dentist in our area. This AI capability can come as a service paid for by the customer or as one provided to the customer by the company.
For businesses, dealing with this fully empowered consumer AI will be challenging.
For the first time, the consumer may have significantly better information than the company selling the service or product. Adding AI to this mix also gives the consumer cognitive superpowers.
An AI can easily verify millions of trip permutations on any number of parameters. AI travel aids will include flights, hotels, availability of tickets to sporting events, special dinners in restaurants, permits to camp in national parks.
Your desired personal conditions found and coordinated by AI
Your AI will be able to find the right combination of desirable conditions to suit stated or implied preferences while adapting to work and family schedules. This has not yet been possible because the AIs were not advanced enough and could not easily talk to each other, much less negotiate complex transactions.
All situations can change as the cost of artificial intelligence drops further and capabilities improve, just as our smartphones consumed multiple industry categories, including cameras, recorders, radios, newspapers, and GPS systems.
Huge business benefits await in AI for those who dare to dream
Just as Amazon and Netflix saw futures on the horizon that weren’t real yet, companies that can imagine a world where their inventory, CRM, and pricing systems can collaborate with customer AI will enjoy a huge advantage.
Monetize your future with AI
It’s unclear how to monetize that future, but we can make some guesswork based on the directions we see AI systems heading in retail, travel, and media.
Delivering customer-centric goods and services that are truly personalized will demand a premium. This is already true today in the bespoke world. In the future, it will be true for all consumers who have an AI on their side.
Image credit: kampus production; pexels; Thank you!