Harnessing the Power of AI & Storytelling to Enhance the Customer Experience

While I was recently speaking at a customer experience conference in Nashville, Tenn., the city that is known for storytelling through the art of music, I discussed the importance of storytelling, artificial intelligence, and customer experience. Why storytelling?

The reality is experiences, not price, will be the battleground of the future. Customers value experiences, and those experiences often come in the form of stories. Selfies, social feeds, chats, and influence stats grab the attention of consumers, who in turn share their personal encounters.

We have snapchat stories, Instagram stories; we even have interactive personalized video stories where each audience can chart their own unique rich media experiences. The shift to storytelling gives businesses an opportunity to regain their footing by creating more interactive and personalized engagements with customers.

The old model for building experiences was to create one story—a basic customer journey—and pray that millions of people read or experienced it. Now, thanks, to AI, we can create millions of unique stories tailored to an audience of one across the customer journey.

Technology is quickly becoming the catalyst for one of the most profound changes ever to occur in the relationship between individuals and the world around them. It's important that businesses navigate the disruption that is redefining experiences away from a transactional relationship between people into a more nuanced, tangled relationship between humans and the automated systems and devices they use to engage the world.

Organizations must digitally transform their businesses to best attract, win, retain, and support customers by leveraging the latest applications, analytics, and infrastructure to deliver a differentiated experience that is not a luxury, but a necessity for survival.

Improving customer experiences demands an approach that considers all of the tools, processes, and data across the customer journey. The complex process usually involves dynamically maintaining a single source of truth about each customer to drive contextualized experiences based on individual preferences and behaviors.

Advancements in AI driven by machine learning algorithms are at the heart of next-generation customer experience initiatives. Organizations must complement existing investments in systems of record with systems of engagement that are more agile and can ensure frictionless customer experiences.

Businesses can build deeper connections, recommend next-best actions, and create more contextually driven interactions. Storytelling and technology are now linked. To create the story of one requires information that is updated constantly (e.g., transactions, events, contexts, interactions, and behaviors) and tied to a unique identity for each customer to build a complete customer profile. Then that information and identity must be turned into prescriptive insight using machine-learning-based algorithms to identify customer opportunities and determine how to best engage across multiple channels and devices.

451 Research data reveals that 82 percent of businesses state machine learning for automated contextual recommendations is important for creating personalized customer experiences. Machine Learning helps uncover more enticing and engaging stories that resonate with individuals. For example, it can help email effectiveness by dynamically adjusting subject line headers based on likelihood to open messages. Or, rapidly find content that drives conversion for each individual.

It's also a game-changer for customer service: machine learning can improve self-service adoption and ensure that up to 80 percent of all customer interactions can be contained in self-service channels. Conversational service nurtures relationships across the customer journey using ML to trigger contextual responses throughout the customer lifecycle.

Yesterday's world was about one-way customer interactions; today's is about two-way engagement anywhere, on any device. The reality is that storytelling is creating new forms of engaging micromoments that enhance the overall customer experience through the use of data and intelligent automation.

Sheryl Kingstone is research director for business applications at 451 Research.