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What is Artificial Intelligence and How Can it Improve Sales and Customer Service?

Posted by Mark Croft on July 30, 2019

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What is Artificial Intelligence?

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? 

Artificial intelligence (or AI) is a term that refers to a melting pot of concepts and technologies. Typically, any technique which enables computers to mimic human behavior is considered AI. AI software is capable of learning from patterns in data and other information, which is achieved through the process of combining large quantities of data with intelligent algorithms and quick processing capabilities. 

Artificial intelligence can also be seen as the conglomeration of human efforts to enable machines to mimic human intelligence. It's the end result of decades' worth of research, frustration, and trial and error-- and it's changing the way that the world around us works. Whether you know it or not, chances are the way that you do business (as both a consumer and an employee) is heavily influenced by artificial intelligence.

Some of the more common activities that computers outfitted with artificial intelligence are capable of include:

  • Speech recognition
  • Problem-solving
  • Planning and forecasting
  • Learning

Why Would a Business Use AI?

Savvy business owners and marketers know that today's consumers want personalized content; and if the content isn't personalized, they're really only interested in seeing something that serves their needs or delivers value. Achieving this on an individualized basis can be easy. It's delivering quality, targeted content to the masses that presents a roadblock.

AI can help with that. 

Through leveraging the power of AI capabilities, businesses can gain insight into the best ways to develop their content strategy, enrich the data that they collect, and personalize their offerings. Digital marketing giant HubSpot, for example, uses AI and machine learning to help customers find their most relevant search content and predict which leads are most likely to close.

How Do Businesses Use AI?

Because AI's capabilities are as extensive and varied as the businesses who rely on it, it's tough to pin down just one way that businesses "do" AI. The way that a factory uses artificial intelligence software will likely look much different than how an independent shop owner who sells online utilizes their own AI tools of choice. 

There is one fact that tends to remain relatively universal when it comes to how and why companies use AI: it's a concentrated effort to promote and achieve workplace efficiency. 

Businesses use AI to achieve a number of goals. These range from automating workloads (both physical and data-based) to improving customer services through capabilities like virtual assistant programs. Many organizations rely on predictive AI software in order to forecast future performance or consumer behavior. In addition to these means of AI use, businesses also rely on artificial intelligence to:

  • Optimize logistics
    • Plan transport routes
    • Prioritize workloads
  • Prevent service or equipment outages
    • Identify patterns that are likely to lead to outages
    • Detect and deter security breaches
  • Market products and services
    • Curate content
    • Personalize content and content delivery
    • Perform ad-targeting

How Can AI Help With Sales and Customer Service?

Sales

Those who own, operate, and are employed by companies in the realm of sales are quickly catching onto the opportunities that AI presents. Sales teams who adopt AI technology have been shown to experience increases in leads and appointments of over 50%; and their call times are shorter, too – most calls are 60-70% shorter after AI implementation. 

AI can do wonders when it comes to simplifying the art of the sale. All too often, sales reps find themselves caught up in administrative tasks and office humdrum-- that's precious time that could be used for making sales getting wasted. If you're willing to let AI handle new contact creation, high-priority email identification, and other backend tasks, sales reps will be freed up to focus on what really matters. 

If you're looking to harness the power of predictive forecasting, it makes for another excellent use case for AI in sales. Today's AI software can easily predict outcomes based on whatever historical data you feed it. Looking to forecast which deals and prospects are most likely to close? Trying to pinpoint new demographics who'd be interested in your products or services? AI can help. 

Customer Service

Recent studies have indicated that AI is anticipated to make huge waves in the realm of customer service; and, with a little thought, it's not hard to see why.

Customer service is all about data. While you or your employees may be hard at work ensuring that customers are happy, clients have their needs met, and your brand is painted in a positive light, the meat of most customer service efforts lies in collecting and utilizing data. This data is how we determine whether our social and branding efforts are paying off as we perform customer service.

If there's one thing AI is good for, it's keeping track of data. Not only is this data quickly synthesized and spit out into actionable feedback by AI systems, but that same data teaches AI software how to do its job better as it works. Improved speech recognition, the ability to collect consumer feedback and transform it into useful reports, and other critical capabilities will play a monumental role in improving the customer service experience for employees and customers alike. 

Finding it difficult to imagine how AI can play a role in customer service? Chew on this report of how service organizations leveraging AI are taking advantage of its benefits:

  • 81% use AI to gather basic information
  • 75% use AI to help automate the handling of routine customer issues
  • 74% use AI for case classification and routing
  • 71% use AI to provide management with operations insights
  • 71% use AI to pre-fill fields in the agent console

It's clear that artificial intelligence has an immense capacity to improve both sales and customer service. Whether a company is utilizing AI to harness, analyze, and utilize customer data more efficiently or they're relying on person AI assistance to complete mundane tasks, they're taking steps that benefit their bottom line and their customer base.

Businesses who hope to remain competitive in the future would do well to consider their opportunities for AI implementation. Not only does it have the potential to make day-to-day work easier, but it improves the customer experience and makes for happier purchasers. Happy, satisfied customers are integral to steady profits– why not use AI to get there?

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Topics: Sales Process, Customer Service