2016 was the year we saw Artificial Intelligence (AI) progress from a concept everyone associated with I, Robot to a technology we have begun to use on a daily basis. AI, the development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, is being integrated into every aspect of our lives.
This past year, we have seen the rise in popularity of many products that incorporate AI. There’s Alexa, the voice of Amazon’s Echo, that provides customers with an intuitive interaction without ever having to press a button or even use a screen. Amy Ingram, the virtual personal assistant for busy executives that sets up meetings by sending amazingly human-like emails. And of course, Facebook integrated chatbots into their Messenger app, allowing businesses to deliver targeted conversations with consumers.
Now that we have begun to see the mainstreaming of Artificial Intelligence, get ready for the technology to be used at almost every level of the business sphere.
The Rise of Direct Customer Engagement
Chatbots especially, are the kind of AI being quickly implemented since they are cost-effective and they help businesses increase their one-on-one consumer interaction. Chatbots are programmed to engage in focused conversation and, when programmed properly, can provide answers to move potential and existing customers quickly through the sales funnel. Chatbots can be expertly developed in any field and provide conversational answers to consumers, presenting a much smoother interaction than that of 1-800 robots.
Facebook’s integration of chatbots within their Messenger app allowed developers to build their own bots within the app. This provided a direct line of communication with consumers. Messenger bots are now able to respond structured messages that include images, links, and even call-to-action buttons. Customers can now order apparel, make restaurant reservations, call a Lyft, review an e-commerce order, and so much more without ever having to talk with a human.
In the near future, chatbots may become the primary way a consumer finds, buys, or peruses a potential item or service. By cutting down the amount of content needed to sift through before finding the product they want, and being able to do it all through a mobile device, consumers will quickly integrate this kind of streamlined business into their purchasing timeline.
This kind of direct customer engagement should not be underestimated. For consumer-facing business, you should take time in 2017 to develop a strategy around incorporating chatbots into an app, Messenger, or your website.
The Screen-less Internet of Things
Just as AI may make call centers obsolete, it also may make our obsession with, and constant use of, screens a thing of the past as companies continue exploring with screen-less devices that can connect to the internet and carry out services that we require of them.
These devices go beyond just our phones and computers to include cars, TVs, even washing machines, and refrigerators! AI allows for technology to adapt to us: learning our preferences and even the way we talk to be able to not only complete the action we ask but also give human-like suggestions for future actions.
Moving forward, brands will continue to make advancements using AI to better handle customer interactions, recommendations, and requests – all while gathering valuable information about customer behaviors and needs. It is difficult to quantify exactly how helpful and cost effective this kind of technology and data leveraging will be, but it’s big, and it’s going to change the way the consumer finds, buys, and uses products on nearly every level.