2020 was a catalysing moment for enterprise artificial intelligence (AI) as the pandemic forced companies to go digital faster and use AI not only to adapt but to emerge stronger. This shift has accelerated the use of AI to help companies sell smarter, drive stronger engagement, scale customer support and personalise commerce experiences.
In 2021, AI-powered predictions will be more important than ever. Based on historical data and adoption, AI and automated machines are learning to provide forward-looking estimates and answers that map to specific business outcomes. Every day, these technologies are delivering more than 80 billion predictions for customers.
This scale of adoption is massive, and particularly benefits those that adopt AI as a core business strategy and means to better understand and engage customers. In fact, International Data Corp (IDC) found that global spending on AI will double over the next four years – reaching $110 billion in 2024 (up from $50 billion in 2020).
Working invisibly behind the scenes, AI technologies are better equipping companies to predict customer behaviours and preferences at scale, transforming the world of work as we know it. Here are four ways that AI-powered predictions are helping businesses to operate and support their customers more effectively.
1. Highly personalised conversations with customers
As the pandemic hit, many companies needed to drive stronger engagement as a greater percentage of customers began shopping online. For businesses of all sizes, personalised communications had never been more important to meeting their customers’ expectations and sales growth. With predictions, companies have been able to shift their focus on the right customer conversation with targeted email campaigns, increase traffic to their online platforms, and respond many times faster to trends customers are interested in.
2. Improved forecast accuracy of cash flow
Where industries such as financial services have experienced growing delays in customer payments and difficulty to forecast short- and long-term cash flow, AI technologies have helped keep businesses running while being empathetic to the challenges their customers were facing. With AI technologies, organisations have been able to more accurately predict cash flow, faster, as well as respond to customer queries quicker.
3. Keeping customers happy
In the context of lockdowns and social distancing, meal delivery services have faced huge spikes in customer requests. In this instance, AI has assured businesses and customers alike – helping businesses to deal with rising case volumes, and helping customers track their orders or packages, report any issues with delays or damage, and get a credit or refund. As well as keeping customers happy, this has also boosted customer service scores.
4. Empowering sales teams to be more effective
The value of a good salesperson, as an informed and empathetic advisor, has only grown during the pandemic, yet the time they’re able to dedicate to gathering helpful insights is decreasing. This explains why more teams are automating repetitive tasks to enable reps to spend more time developing trusting relationships with customers and selling. With predictions, sales teams are becoming more empowered to effectively prioritise leads, determine what action to be taken on accounts, and more rapidly log sales data and customer notes.
The rise of automation
The pandemic proved that we’re at an inflection point with AI adoption, and many companies have made it clear that AI is here to stay. Just as these technologies are helping organisations to be more efficient and better serve their customers, automation of routine tasks is allowing employees to focus on more strategic work. With the best AI tools, employees don’t have to be a data scientist to take advantage of these capabilities – they can implement quickly and begin innovating fast using clicks, not code.
At a time when many businesses are doing more with less, investing in AI tools can boost resilience. By creating new products, services, and jobs, their potential to transform our lives and economies is enormous. By encouraging employees to learn about and train these technologies, we can cultivate a workforce culture of continual development in line with business needs.
The author is VP Solution Engineering, Salesforce India.