Businesses across industries are investing a lot of resources in artificial intelligence (AI), hoping it will deliver big returns to their bottom lines. They’re implementing and experimenting with AI technologies in many ways — from automating processes in their back office, to crunching vast amounts of data to identify trends and gain business insights, to delivering more efficient and personalized customer experiences.

Initiatives related to the latter goal can be especially important for generating AI ROI. According to research from Gartner, Inc., one of the top three sources of AI business value is the customer experience. Gartner also states that the “customer experience is a necessary precondition for widespread adoption of AI technology to both unlock its full potential and enable value.”

As for value, the research firm projects that global business value derived from AI will reach $1.2 trillion this year. That’s an increase of 70 percent from 2017. It’s expected to keep rising, too: Gartner forecasts that figure will hit $3.9 trillion by 2022.

That’s all positive news for businesses that develop and use AI technologies. But what about customers? Are AI-enhanced customer experiences really able to deliver value for them?

The short answer is yes. Here’s a quick look at five businesses that are using AI to create better experiences for their customers:

Allstate

When Allstate first started using its “You’re in Good Hands” tagline in the 1950s, the company probably did not envision a day when those hands would belong to an AI-powered chatbot.

“Amelia” is a virtual agent well-versed in the world of insurance. She’s trained on more than 50 insurance topics and regulations across all 50 states. She can answer tough questions with concise answers that also meet compliance requirements. And she’s handled millions of customer conservations since she was first tested in 2017; today, she assists most of Allstate’s call center employees.

Amelia is helping Allstate reduce talk times and resolve more customer issues on the first call. The assistance she provides is also reducing training time for call center agents.

The Faulkner Organization

Buying a car is a significant investment — and it can be a stressful experience. Many consumers turn to the internet first when researching cars, hoping to ease the pain of the sales process once they get to the showroom. But that process can be just as frustrating because when they do want assistance from a dealer online, it can be hard to get.

To help ensure its online customers get the prompt and courteous attention they deserve, The Faulkner Organization, one of the largest multi-franchise automobile dealerships in Pennsylvania, employs an AI virtual assistant. The virtual persona “Megan” can create two-way, email-based communication, determine a lead’s intent in real time, alert the salesperson who should contact the lead, and more.

Faulkner’s internet sales department had previously struggled to keep up with the thousands of leads coming in from the company’s multi-brand website and other channels every month. Now, the AI solution automates the entire process of sales conversion for internet leads. (And by better engaging its customers, Faulkner has seen its qualified showroom traffic double.)

Mayo Clinic

Clinical trials can save lives, but patient screening and enrollment is a long and manual process. That’s obviously a big problem for people with serious conditions who don’t have time on their side. Mayo Clinic and IBM Watson Health are trying to make the process better. They are working together to match patients more quickly with appropriate trials. Their initial focus: cancer patients.

Mayo implemented the “Watson for Clinical Trials Matching” system in July 2016 in its ambulatory practice for patients with breast cancer. Nearly a year later, Mayo saw an 80 percent increase in enrollment for its systemic therapy clinical trials for breast cancer. The time needed to screen patients for clinical trial matches has also been reduced.

Based on the success of their first effort with breast cancer patients, Mayo is now collaborating with IBM to expand the matching system’s capabilities to include clinical trials for other types of cancer, including lung and gastrointestinal cancers.

Bank of America

Few people go into a bank and interact with a teller these days. If they’re missing that personal connection in their banking experience, Bank of America’s AI-driven virtual financial assistant “Erica” may help fill the void. She resides within the bank’s mobile app and customers can interact with her by using voice commands, texting and tapping on their mobile device.

Bank of America rolled out Erica to its 25 million mobile customers earlier this year. Erica uses advanced analytics and cognitive messaging to help customers with several common banking activities, from accessing account balances to scheduling payments to transferring money between accounts.

Bank of America has big plans for Erica — it looks to expand her capabilities so that she can handle more complex tasks, including identifying ways for customers to potentially save money.

The English-speaking virtual assistant is also expected to learn Spanish in the future.

Frontier Communications

The telecommunications industry is highly competitive — and consumers know they have choices. And if a provider doesn’t understand its customers’ needs or provide personalized service, those customers may walk. That provider will likely struggle to seal the deal with prospects, too.

Frontier Communications, the nation’s largest pure-rural communication company, uses Invoca Signal AI, which is used to identify call outcomes and caller intent in real time, to ensure it understands what its customers want. The solution automatically analyzes phone conversations to help Frontier Communications understand buyer intent, eliminating the time-consuming and resource-intensive process of manually listening to customers’ calls.

The call data Frontier Communications receives from Invoca Signal AI provides insight on why certain callers may or may not buy the provider’s services — for example, they may have concerns about pricing or they may find a competitor’s offer more compelling. The company, armed with knowledge about buyer intent, can then create personalized offers that are more likely to meet prospects’ and customers’ needs and help drive conversions.

According to Bryan Flores, group vice president, marketing and strategy, at Frontier Communications, the company’s marketing team can now use insights from Invoca to classify customer interactions by call intent and analyze the outcomes of calls as well as the root causes for those outcomes. And by relating that information back to the different types of consumers Frontier Communications services, the marketing team is able to identify patterns in customer needs and behaviors, and personalize the service it provides.

That information, Flores said, is valuable for helping Frontier Communications to improve not only the purchase process for prospects but also the experience for its existing customers.

 

Jane Irene Kelly

Posted by Jane Irene Kelly

Jane Irene Kelly is a business and technology writer with more than two decades of experience. Her previous leadership roles in publishing include San Francisco bureau chief for Adweek magazine. Jane is a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. She resides in Pennsylvania but keeps a piece of her heart in San Francisco.

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