From finding breaking news to tackling healthcare efficiencies, artificial intelligence (AI) is enhancing pretty well every business vertical. AI can provide appointment reminders and organize access to records among multiple healthcare professionals. Hotels have AI robots deliver extra towels to guests or serve as a virtual concierge. And financial institutions use chatbots to field customer inquiries.
It might sound hyperbolic, but there is seemingly no limit to the ways AI can be leveraged to enhance customer experiences, improve efficiencies and offer up a level of personalization that puts old methods of “targeted” advertising to shame.
Have a look at how these three companies are using AI to better their business practices.
China-based e-commerce company Alibaba Group has implemented AI for smart logistics, to determine the most efficient delivery routes. The company claims that driver distances have reduced by 30 percent and vehicle use dropped 10 percent since implementing AI technology.
Its AI assistant Dian Xiaomi, meanwhile, handles customer inquiries and provides smarter product and search recommendations. The AI can reportedly understand more than 90 percent of customer inquiries and can even categorize emotions through text analysis to decide when a human agent should step in.
Additionally, AI is used to not only recommend products to shoppers but also to advise retailers in real-time when they should increase inventory to keep up with demand.
And their strategies are working. During Alibaba’s Singles Day last year, akin to Amazon Prime Day, the company set a new record with more than $30.8 million in sales in 24 hours. That number is up from $25.3 billion in 2017.
Under Armour’s UA Record app is a personal health assistant provides users with real-time coaching as they train. There’s also the option of syncing the data with a UA HealthBox device, like a fitness band or headphones. Through AI, data provided by the sensor and manual user input on things like activity, sleep, and nutrition drives the personalized coaching.
Built using the IBM Watson Cognitive Computing platform, the AI can pull data from other sources, like weather and environmental factors, to analyze how it might impact training and activity levels and provide recommendations.
After analyzing the data, the AI can compare you to others in your age and gender group to provide actionable insights. Body mass index, for instance, might be lowest in your age group among those who get at least seven hours of sleep per night, prompting you to catch more ZZZs as part of your overall fitness and wellbeing regimen.
From a business perspective, the level of personalization that results from the cognitive computing platform can encourage more customer engagement with the app, keeping users logged in or visiting longer. It can even open the door for cross-promotional opportunities with companies that provide healthy meal kit deliveries, for instance, or health and fitness-related gear.
U.K.-based Vodafone has a chatbot called TOBi that fields basic customer questions, including simple queries about an existing or desired service. This might include questions like how much it might cost to use a phone in a different European country from where the customer resides – questions that customers might have otherwise waited on hold for several minutes to get a live person to answer.
TOBi, which interacts with customers in a conversational style, can resolve more than 70 percent of customer queries and it’s continually learning and improving. In cases where a question might be too complex, however, TOBi is smart enough to hand the customer over to a live agent. The telecom provider is looking to expand the types of questions TOBi can answer in the future, adding more complicated queries to its repertoire.
Vodafone says the feedback so far has been positive, with customers lauding the speed and simplicity of the experience, as well as the honesty. TOBi introduces itself as a machine, and this small gesture establishes trust with the consumer.
By fully integrating TOBi within its systems, Vodafone believes that it will be able to automate the majority of interactions in its Webchat service, allowing agents to focus on more important customer conversations.
Scratching the AI surface
A book could be written on the myriad of ways businesses can use AI to enhance the customer experience, inspire the creation of more targeted marketing efforts, and reduce costs relating to customer service, transportation, and inventory. These three case studies demonstrate that we’re merely scratching the surface of AI in business.