There are a lot of misunderstandings about artificial intelligence and its value has been undermined through a combination of scare stories and hyperbole. But there are plenty of use cases that demonstrate how it can improve interactions between companies and customers.
I tend to notice a lot of people still have cold feet around AI because it seems like an intimidating and costly solution – but it shouldn’t be. AI can solve many of the little problems people struggle with.
It’s not always about giant leaps like brain-computer interfaces or beating the most difficult games in the world. AI is at it’s best when using small meaningful steps to make people’s lives better. In order to survive the age of filtering bots and automated buying, this can be an important way to prove your value.
There are five great cases where companies have used AI to enhance customer experience.
1. KFC facial recognition
KFC has collaborated with ‘China’s Google’, Baidu, to use facial recognition which can predict what a customer will want to eat. They base this on the time of day (e.g. breakfast, lunch), the estimated age of the person, their gender, and their mood.
For example, a 20 something male might be offered a crispy chicken hamburger meal, chicken wings, and a coke. KFC also claims that the system will remember what you ate for the next time.
China is so big on speed, efficiency, and personalisation, and are much more comfortable with digital ordering and facial recognition, so this merger between offline and online isn’t surprising.
2. Macy’s shop assistant
Macy’s are testing cognitive AI technology to help customers in their stores. They have a smartphone-based assistant, ‘Macy’s On Call’ which can answer questions with relevant customised responses, from where products or brands are located, to what services and facilities can be found in a certain store.
How often does it happen that there’s no shopping assistant around when you need them? Macy’s shop assistant is AI at his best: a simple solution to a common problem, that frees up human assistants to answer the more complex questions. AI should start with small concrete problems, it doesn’t have to be overly complicated.
3. Volvo’s early warning system
Volvo’s Early Warning System analyses over one million events every week to predict which car parts will need to be changed or repaired. Imagine never needing to call a tow truck again because your car decided to break down!
Volvo has also been testing cars with sensors that report on driving conditions and deliver the data to the Swedish highway authorities. This goes beyond great customer experience – it’s about the safety of the drivers.
4. ASOS’ app
UK-based ecommerce clothing retailer ASOS has released a new app where you can upload a photo of your favourite celebrity wearing something you like, and they will scan their huge database of clothes to find something similar but more affordable.
This is how companies can keep consumers coming back to buy more. ASOS’ app results in 48% more product reviews, makes visitors 75% more likely to make a return visit, and results in orders worth 9% more.
5. Boxed’s Smart StockUp AI tool
Boxed is an online American, mobile membership-free wholesale retailer. Boxed have created an AI tool called Smart StockUp that will predict when you are running low of the daily products you use regularly – such as toilet paper, detergent or milk.
They ask the users a few questions at the beginning to help them refine the predictions and then look at the shopping history of the individuals as well as general re-stocking patterns to make recommendations.
Users receive recommendations for ‘need these now’ and ‘need these soon’ products, which shoppers can add to their carts. The more you buy at Boxed, the smarter their system becomes and the more accurate its restocking patterns.
Boxed isn’t fully automated yet but it’s experimenting in that direction with a test group of business customers. This could be the start of fully automated buying in a subscription-based commodity product model, which brings us one step closer towards fully autonomous shopping.
Prof. Steven Van Belleghem is an expert in customer focus in the digital world. He’s is an award-winning author, and his new book Customers The Day After Tomorrow is out now. Follow him on Twitter @StevenVBe, subscribe to his videos at www.youtube.com/stevenvanbelleghem or visit www.stevenvanbelleghem.com