How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Transform Customer Engagement and Sales

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Imagine possessing the ability to resolve a problem for your customer before she had a chance to contact your company to complain. Alternately, by aggregating the customer’s interactions with your company and purchase history, your marketing solution identifies her as the perfect candidate for your new product and sends her a promotion. These are the promising ways in which artificial intelligence (AI) can improve the customer experience.

SENTIMENT ANALYSIS PROVIDES VALUABLE CONTEXT

AI-driven sentiment analysis tools are helping marketing, sales, and customer support teams use image recognition technology to better connect with their customers. For example, a customer takes a photo of a product and uses it to create a negative social media post without naming the brand. AI-driven sentiment analysis can not only identify the product, but it can understand the level of customer dissatisfaction, analyze the impact to the brand, notify the internal customer experience team, initiate a remedy, and log all this data automatically. In the era of influencer marketing, the ability to automatically sense and respond to customer interactions will enable companies with this capability to scale exponentially while their competitors fumble with CRM data and struggle to understand their customers.

True sentiment analysis for brands through the use of AI helps pinpoint a one-off problem or identify a growing issue faster than individuals manually watching the channels. This makes it much easier for those teams to focus on key business decisions and proactive customer service before there is a PR or social backlash.

Several vendors are incorporating AI into social monitoring solutions to provide marketers a way to social-listen for customer sentiment, help identify potential problems quickly, and respond accordingly. Some of the new solutions will trigger alerts and automatically respond to customers to head off issues as well.

CONTEXTUAL DATA CAN HELP WIN DEALS

Data can either work for or against you, but AI increases your odds. Here’s a familiar statement uttered in sales meetings every day: “We are going to close this deal by the end of the quarter. I’m sure we will hit our numbers.” We hear this kind of thing repeatedly, but validating such a statement’s accuracy with data is the challenge.

Similar to the way sentiment analysis sends alerts, solutions available and in development can track and aggregate various points of customer engagement data, deal velocity, and industry or company news to present more accurate sales forecasts for sales leaders. AI can look at data points such as these:

• Are customers responsive to their emails?

• Are they clicking or engaging with marketing content, including looking at specific pages on a website or clicking on links in emails?

• Are there frequent calls or emails between the seller and the customer?

• Are customers engaging on social media?

• Did a key influencer leave the company?

AI can tie all of this data together to form a true account forecast and determine how likely a prospect is to buy. If there are gaps between a seller’s predictions and the AI solution’s findings, sales leadership can be proactively alerted to help. AI can assist sellers and their leadership in gaining a broader view of all the elements that can impact the sale, and thus increase the success rate.

A final point: Use data and AI-empowered solutions to your advantage. AI won’t replace your team, but it can help your sales reps carry out responsibilities that are time-intensive and help them do so more effectively. Let people do what they do best—sell—and let the technology do the nitty-gritty administrative work.


Cindy Zhou is vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, covering digital marketing transformation and sales effectiveness.

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