In brick-and-mortar stores, the sales team is able to greet customers and understand the mood they are in, see if they came in to browse or to shop, if they are pressed for time or relaxed, and even determine if they need help or not. A good seller can understand the taste of customers based on their style, their clothes, and the way they move around in the store.
During the buying process, a good store will not have heavy lines at the registers and will make sure the payment process is quick, smooth, and ends with a smile. It would be such a waste if the customer found items to purchase but got frustrated at the finish line and decided to leave the store. Sales teams are trained for these situations and adjust their behavior accordingly to make sure every experience is a positive one. So why are we not doing the same online?
Broken Customer Experiences and UX
Unlike brick-and-mortar stores, most of the time we are guesstimating about the digital shopping experience. We assume visitors like our products, are in the mood to purchase, and love the way we display the content. Those assumptions are clearly wrong, otherwise we wouldn’t be mistaken 97 percent of the time. The truth is that, usually, we don’t know what they came for, what their intention is, how much time they have, and what they really want to achieve.
User experience and behavior analytics are the tools that can give us what we lost when we said goodbye to real sales teams. If we are tracking every customer interaction, the same way we are looking at the customers in store, we should be able to understand the digital visitor’s mood, intent, and context. We should be able to know if our visitor is in a boring commute and is just spending a half-asleep hour swiping, in the middle of a work frenzy, or if it’s a chill Saturday morning with nothing to do but shop. However, this requires huge amounts of data and huge engines to analyze it.
The Best Salesperson, AKA AI
Big data only got us so far. The missing link was one that would take every UX and behavior analytics and translate it into information such as mood, context, and intent with which actions could be taken. That missing link is artificial intelligence.
AI technology allows businesses to understand their customers and why they are behaving a certain way online, what areas in a website and on a web page are causing this behavior, what content needs to be changed to change this behavior, and more. When this knowledge is followed by actions that address the why, user experience improves and engagement and conversion rates are quick to follow.
Based on billions of customer journeys, AI identifies patterns to create consumer profiles and provides predictions and recommendations for content improvement. AI can provide the insight, for example, that by changing a certain piece of content, you will improve the customer’s journey and more successfully retain and convert ready-to-buy consumers.
Democratizing Access to Data
If knowledge is power, why do the few (data analysts, IT team members) hold the knowledge for the many (marketing and digital teams)?
AI is here to transform this trend by democratizing the access to data. With an AI engine in place, every team member can get, understand, and use relevant data without the need for privileged knowledge or technical training. By providing recommendations that every member on a digital team can understand and implement, AI is changing the way people work and boosts efficiency when businesses are looking to address issues such as low conversion rates.
Democratizing access to data gives meaning to the word teamwork, the idea that everyone is doing their jobs and understanding the value they bring to the company. With AI, a company can increase its efficiency as a business through its employees without the need for time spent – or rather wasted – on waiting for a result without understanding its cause or measuring its scope.
AI and the Human Touch
AI is providing companies a better, deeper understanding of customers and their behaviors. But it’s critical to use AI as a supplement and ensure a human touch remains. AI goes hand-in-hand with a human’s role in creating and improving the online and mobile UX.
Linked together, a strong team with strong AI will reach and even surpass goals in the areas of customer experience, team empowerment and overall revenue growth.
Jonathan Cherki is CEO of ContentSquare (www.contentsquare.com).
Edited by Erik Linask