Just a few weeks ago, a survey from IpsosMori revealed that UK consumers are fairly optimistic about artificial intelligence (AI). It also indicated that many of us think of AI as robots and intelligent machines. However, scientists are a long way from building machines that have human-like, multi-purpose intelligence, and instead, the most common form of AI that we encounter today is predictive intelligence.
Consumers are already experiencing AI via predictive intelligence. Coca-Cola Germany, for example, generates billions of data points that are collected every day through the mobile application used by field reps. The information is used to automatically predict which customers and prospects have the highest potential for new sales. Sales reps can also predict where additional coolers will be most profitable and what stock will be needed for various coolers to maximise sales of Coke products at each location. As a result customers have a smoother experience - coolers are less likely to be out of stock of their favourite products and are also more likely to be in the locations they want.
Here in Britain, the Internet of Things (fuelled by big data) is also helping Centrica Connected Home transform the homes and lives of its customers. Smart light bulbs, motion sensors, and plugs have joined the Hive family along with 'actions', which enable customers to bring together different connected products to make their lives even easier. For example, by connecting a Hive door motion sensor with Hive Active Light bulbs, people can always come home to a warm welcome, with the lights coming on as they walk through the door. The Hive products are also integrated with Amazon Echo and virtual assistant Alexa.
Behind the scenes Centrica Connected Home can see if a homeowner has bought a product but not yet activated his or her account, or how a customer's heating usage compares with other people in the same area. By integrating the different data sets and systems, the company can unlock new intelligence to drive greater efficiency and richer customer engagements.
These experiences are changing customer expectations. As we become accustomed to a more personal experience, we expect all the companies we buy from to better understand us. In fact, our Connected UK Customer Experience research shows that a personal touch is the most important part of good customer service. What's more, according to Salesforce's 2016 Connected Customer report, 57% of business buyers and 45% of consumers say that by 2020 they will switch brands if a company doesn't actively anticipate their needs. To effectively meet these expectations, organisations need to embrace predictive intelligence.
And for marketers in particular, predictive intelligence presents an amazing opportunity to get an unprecedented understanding of their customers, offering a truly personalised 1-to-1 experience for every customer. Today's technology is able to piece together all the interactions a customer has with a company including their purchase history; behaviour on a website; consumption of digital ads, and conversations with customer service. As demonstrated by the Hive brand and Coca-Cola, predictive intelligence can use this insight to help marketers to identify the most promising leads and suggest the best channels for engagement or tell the marketing team when the best time is to extend an offer to a customer.
Predictive intelligence can also provide on-target product recommendations. Women's fashion retailer, Avenue, uses this technology specifically to improve customer engagement, and each email message it sends customers contains four personalised product recommendations. Avenue has said that "more customers are engaged with us than ever before, and they arrive to our site with a greater intention of shopping." With today's personalised shopping experience, everyone wins - customers get recommendations that are most relevant to them and brands deeper engagement, loyalty and sales as a result.
Though consumers may not realise the extent to which they're experiencing the benefits of AI, they're certainly enjoying the improved service it's providing them. And with 89% of marketers saying that customer experience is now their primary differentiator, it will be tools such as predictive intelligence, that will become a must-have part of the marketing toolkit.