New Research Explores an AI Revolution in Customer Relationships

By Jim Sinai

Have you asked Siri or Alexa a question recently, or discovered a new favorite song in one of those auto-generated playlists that appear on your Spotify or Pandora account? Has Amazon sent you a gentle reminder to reorder a household staple that — wouldn’t you know it — you’re nearly out of? If so, you can thank the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), a new wave of systems that perform tasks that, until now, have required human brainpower and effort that would be impossible to scale.

Whether we realize it or not, an increasing number of the day-to-day interactions with our favorite brands are fueled by AI, and that presents massive opportunities — and challenges — for companies across industries.

Based on surveys of thousands of consumers and business professionals, a new special report from Salesforce Research, “The AI Revolution” provides a data-driven look into how AI is transforming customer expectations — and how leading sales, service, and marketing teams are shifting their strategies and technology stacks in response.

Compounding the anytime, anywhere mindsets fostered by mobile and social technologies, AI has generated a base of connected customers that expect personalized and, increasingly, predictive experiences across every touchpoint. In fact, 89% of business buyers and 72% of consumers now expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. By 2020, 75% and 51% of business buyers and consumers, respectively, expect companies will anticipate their needs and make relevant expectations before they even reach out. Most customers are likely to leave brands that don’t meet these new standards.

Businesses are taking heed. The report finds that 37% of sales, service, and marketing teams are already using AI, and a further 22% are piloting or evaluating solutions. Leveraging AI to meet expectations for more timely, relevant experiences is an intriguing prospect for business units across industries. Sales organizations, for example, can use AI to tip reps off on best next actions to move a lead down the funnel, while service professionals can implement chatbots that route customers to agents with special expertise. Even marketers can use AI to deliver dynamic cross-channel content based on customer actions.

Already, a clear relationship has developed between an organization’s approach to AI and its ability to thrive in the Age of the Customer. High-performing sales, service, and marketing teams are all substantially more likely than their underperforming counterparts to use AI.

But jumping on the AI bandwagon without a vision of how it will bring value to a specific business — and how it will be implemented — is a mistake. The research shows that businesses need help in this area: only 16% of sales, service, and marketing leaders say they’ve completely defined their processes for embedding AI outcomes in their business processes, and only 23% have complete confidence in their employees’ capacity/bandwidth to execute on an AI business strategy.

While AI represents a massive opportunity, it requires a well-developed “muscle” formed over time by learning from troves of customer data. Companies that take the time to carefully define AI’s applicability to their specific business and develop this “muscle” will see the greatest proceeds from their efforts and give the competition a run for its money.

For more insights on how AI is redefining customer strategies for sales, service, and marketing teams, download the full report today.


Originally published at www.salesforce.com.

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