It’s a weird headline to look at. Even writing it, the words don’t seem to belong in the same sentence—human and artificial intelligence. The notion of humanizing anything through AI seems like the antithesis of what it was built for. Machines are machines and humans are humans—which is exactly why combining the two is so compelling.
In this experience-driven era, we’re all being pushed to become experts in our customers—their wants, needs, and what keeps them up at night. The end result? The people who were clicks, visitors, and conversions are now exactly who they deserve to be: living, breathing human beings who engage with our brands daily. And that means we owe those humans even more human experiences.
Though AI still feels “new,” enterprise businesses are leveraging it for everything from cybersecurity to workflows to delegating key tasks and, truly, everything in between. But, most notably, more and more brands are leveraging AI to humanize customer experiences. Here’s how.
Taking Experiences To The Person-to-Person Level
During a recent presentation I did with Ernan Roman, the President of voice of customer research firm ERDM Corp., he cited work from an October Retail Information System study he conducted for B2B executives. The most powerful takeaway, for me? That, when asked who does personalization best, these leaders had one clear-cut answer: NO ONE. No one does it well. Not Amazon. Not Netflix. Not insurance or healthcare or media & entertainment. No one.
The issue, as Ernan explained, is a big chasm between a brand’s fantasy and a customer’s reality. Customers, he explained, have unprecedented expectations and we aren’t fully realizing the value this presents. He proposed that it’s time to take that all in and focus on P2P—person to person.
When done right, AI can help brands master P2P by helping them better understand their customer. AI can help determine what experience to deliver based on the visitor attributes it deems most predictive. The machine can see your customer for who and what they are in that moment, and guide you in assessing and delivering the right solution, the right path, and the right personalized touchpoint—all in real-time and all at scale. Admittedly it’s more human than what even the best of the best human marketers can deliver on their own.
Increase Customer Empathy
Beyond that, these increasingly-humanized AI experiences can help brands uncover insights that help put “itself” in a customer’s proverbial shoes. Simply, it’s the empathy factor. More and more, businesses are striving to layer empathy into their strategies by integrating powerhouse personalization. With machine learning and AI, they can derive the rich insights and tap the machine to compose a crystal-clear image of what’s happening for that customer in that moment. From there, connecting and delivering in a very one-to-one way becomes turnkey.
AI can also add a critical context that helps brands cut through the media clutter, explains Brand Therapy Founder and Principal Strategist Esteban Gonzalez. “It’s a tool that allows us to separate what’s meaningful from what’s a nice fact.” Beyond that, though, it’s the literal opposite of the traditional view of AI—cold, hard, technical, and obviously unfeeling. It’s a machine, after all.
Through that lens, the power of AI starts to look a lot different. At the end of the day, we all want empathy in every aspect of our lives. From this point of view, it’s clear AI can connect our digital and non-digital channels to amplify the empathy we want to bring to our work. It’s a completely different view of AI, and completely counter to the scary-robots-coming-for-our-livelihood scenarios. And I, for one, am all in.
The Next Step in Humanizing & Personalizing
The big question, then, is how do you integrate these humanized AI experiences into your digital marketing strategy? The answer: start with data. Ultimately, you need a strong, data-driven foundation in place because, while AI is powerful, it isn’t a fix-all by any means. If the customer experience is broken, AI will simply become another barrier in the path to meaningful engagement and ongoing success—you’ll be automating and advancing bad customer experience practices, and no one wants that.
Make sure to focus on your successes surrounding big data and, from there, shift your focus to P2P. At the end of the day, it’s those P2P experiences that will drive significant increases in both response and engagement.
It’s clear that we’re on the brink of shifting from customer experience to human experience. Your customers are human and they want to be connected with on a human level. They want you to focus on their very human desires and values. They want you to create experiences that effortlessly connect them to what matters most. Leveraging AI as your empathetic machine sidekick, you can deliver these unparalleled personalized experiences and, with it, create lasting customer bonds and long-term advocacy—always a win.