San Francisco – Last week SalesForce CEO Marc Benioff addressed the attendees of Dreamforce 2016, lauding the benefits of the company’s new AI engine, Einstein, which leverages consumer data to deliver a fuller view of the customer and suggest future actions for sales and service reps.
Personalization has become a hot concept in customer experience and serves as a key selling point for Einstein. Using the strategies established by big data, individual companies can use tools like Einstein to analyze their small data. These analytics can provide a more detailed picture of each customer and allow companies to personalize the customer’s experience based on this understanding. For example, personalization mechanisms could suggest suitable products for purchase or send specific notifications to customers based on their profiles and behaviours. As pointed out by SalesForce CTO Parker Harris, consumer technology already employs these personalization techniques; case in point: Amazon analyses user activity to generate predictive suggestions for future purchases and Spotify analyses listening data to create song lists curated to suit each user’s preferences.
Personalization is coveted due to its ability to get closer to the customer and create a stronger connection with them. As stated by Benioff, Einstein allows businesses “to become closer, more connected to our customer than ever before.” Personalized service gives customers the feeling that companies understand them and value them as individuals.
However, predictive analytics and personalized proactivity must be approached with caution. The accuracy of data-based insights has its limitations—and even when predictive analytics provide bang-on accuracy, their results can seem invasive, if not downright creepy (recall how Target used data analytics to predict a teenager’s pregnancy long before her due date, proactively sending her coupons for baby products).
In this immense cloud of data love which pervades CX thought leadership, it’s difficult to find the personal in personalization. Analytics may help customers initiate their buying decision process, but at the end of the day, consumers are receiving information from an algorithm—not a human being.
Digital business dehumanizes customer engagements, insists Dimension Data in their 2016 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report; and with digital communication channels set to surpass voice channels by the end of this year, the IT services firm highlights the fact that “digital needs a human touch.”
The data provided by solutions like Einstein holds a wealth of power when placed in capable human hands. 71.5% of respondents in the 2016 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report agreed that personalized analytics strengthen agent performance. Access to even a small amount of customer data can make an interaction more human and personal. As customer service guru Shep Hyken notes, creating a personal touch is the key to delivering spectacular personalized customer service and “in its simplest form it may be just using the customer’s name.”
With communications shifting to digital channels, now more than ever it’s essential to give agents access to the customer data necessary for carrying out highly successful engagements. Digital channels need to integrate with CRMs so that contact information and service history from all channels can be stored in one location. According to the 2016 State of Global Customer Service Report, 72% of consumers expect reps to know their contact information, product information and service history at the moment they make contact. Digital agents will also need access to this valuable information in order to empower their performance.
The business world has witnessed enormous shifts in B2C relationships. Business interactions have become largely digital and customer experience has become the key differentiator for brands. Companies that have the foresight to maximize the benefits of their customer data and leverage the efficiency of digital communications will surge ahead of the rest—but only if they can carry this out with a human touch.