Please, Just Give Us All the Information We Need
In just a few short weeks, Americans will be going to the polls in what many are calling the most important midterm elections in decades. Nov. 8 results could determine which political party controls both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
With so much on the line, it’s important for candidates to educate their potential constituents, telling the American people where they stand on the issues and why they are worthy of their votes, not just what’s wrong with the country and their opponents.
This is just as true in business as it is in politics. To win the American people’s vote (i.e., business), companies need to do a much better job of educating them, as we highlighted in the Required Reading article in last month’s issue. In the Q&A, the author of the featured book says that “an educated customer can fully tap into and realize the value of what we’re offering. As a result, they are far more likely to renew their subscriptions, buy in to new features, and become champions of our brands.”
Since that article ran, I have seen a number of television ads that don’t even come close to that. I’ve seen an ad for frying pans in which the supplier boasts that its product is “PFOA-free”—with no explanation of what a PFOA is or why it doesn’t belong in my cookware. (PFOA, as it turns out, stands for perfluorooctanoic acid, a chemical used to make products heat- and stain-resistant. It has also recently been found to be harmful to both the human body and the environment.) I’ve also seen ads for hair and skincare products that brag about being paraben-free but, again, without explaining what parabens are or why they’re bad. (Parabens are preservatives that can cause cancer, fertility problems, and birth defects.) I’ve seen hair dye ads celebrating their products as ammonia-free (ammonia apparently damages the hair, makes it weak and brittle, and may increase graying). And lastly, I’ve seen allergy and asthma medicines that claim to be steroid-free (luckily, the dangers of those are more widely known).
OK, I probably watch way too much TV to have seen all those ads, but that’s another issue for another day. My point here is that companies, just like politicians, shouldn’t just make assertions without telling us why they matter. As a politician, telling me that you’re not like everyone else on the ballot doesn’t win my vote alone. I need more information. As a company, telling me your product doesn’t contain something doesn’t win my business alone. I need more information to make the right decision, to make an informed decision.
One could easily make the case that we are living in the Information Age, where knowledge is power and those who can impart some wisdom, learned over time from past experiences, wield the greatest power.
And for businesses today, artificial intelligence is the leading source of that kind of power. AI can help companies market to me more intelligently, sell to me more successfully, and service me more efficiently.
AI has taken over just about every business function, which is why we have devoted this entire issue to AI. We highlight how companies can harness the incredible power of AI to improve their customer service, marketing, and sales efforts. Our writers give sound advice not only for deploying the technology but also for getting employees, executives, and even customers to accept it and trust the insights and recommendations it generates.
That has not been an easy feat up to now. Employees have been reluctant to embrace AI, fearful that it might one day diminish their own value in the company or make them totally obsolete. At least for now, nothing could be farther from the truth. Across all three pillars of CRM, the experts advise that AI is here to assist human employees, not replace them.
The key to any successful AI deployment, our many experts advise, is transparency. It’s important for people to not only have the insights that AI can provide but also to understand why the AI is making a particular recommendation and what its potential downstream ramifications might be. That’s very valuable information, too.
Education is the key to modern business success. Educate me as a consumer. And use AI to educate your people, processes, and systems so that together we all can make the right decisions that will benefit us all.
Leonard Klie is the editor of CRM magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.