From Efficiency Gains to Customer Value Overhaul

Ask ChatGPT to list the top benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to marketers and strategists and you will see 15 items.  The vast majority of them can be categorized as massive efficiency benefits — things like “speed of data analysis”, “automation of tasks” and “content generation.”

Our past writings have focused on these benefits too.  This LinkedIn article we wrote in 2018 was pretty accurate in predicting the efficiency impacts to marketers from AI.

But what has gotten much less attention is the most important potential benefit of AI:  putting its power to work on behalf of your customers.  Have you thought enough about how AI can benefit the value proposition of your existing (or about-to-be-launched) products and services?

Companies Can Now Execute on the One-to-One Marketing Vision

Technology has caught up to the late 1990’s/early 2000’s vision of one-to-one marketing.  One-to-one entails delivering ‘mass customized’ solutions tailored to individual customer needs and preferences. AI makes this vision a reality.

Customers who share significant amounts of information about themselves with a company — and who see immediate personalization benefits for doing so — will be reluctant to spend time recreating this relationship with another company. 

It’s the reason we often pay more for personal services with the accountant or hairstylist we know.  We don’t want to teach someone else the information that is already being effectively personalized for us by our current provider.

Before the advent of AI, this vision required lots of prior thought and smart technology to execute on.  Customer contact personnel needed to know exactly what customers had shared about their needs and preferences with other company personnel on previous interactions.  They needed to know the exact questions to ask in sequential order.  The whole thing needed to be meticulously scripted.

Now, AI technologies — like Fireflies — that can analyze natural language interactions with customers and script the perfect next conversation with each individual customer have made this vision a much easier reality. 

For example, a financial services product manufacturer that creates annuity, insurance and investment products sold through independent financial planners could provide a Fireflies-like capability to agents.  These agents could begin conducting all customer meetings using the technology.

By hooking these natural language software transcripts to a prediction engine, agents could leverage not just their own experience, but the experience of all agents on the platform.  This means they could make the best possible personalized recommendations while having a very natural and flowing conversation with a customer.

The customer wins because they share their financial history and goals with one agent, and the agent’s recommendations get smarter over time.  So, the agent wins too, as does the manufacturer of the financial products who provided the technology.  

The Prompts That Allow AI to Personalize Effectively

AI is so powerful and comprehensive that its giving rise to a whole new profession, the prompt engineer.  Prompt engineers are specialists in specifically wording requests into an AI system to maximize the natural language recognition capabilities of the technology and garner clear and actionable output.

In other words, prompt engineers help clarify what a company wants to gain from an AI inquiry.  In the same way, needs-based segmentation helps “prompt” a company to clarify how they can use AI on behalf of their customers. 

Imagine you are a wound care products company that sells primarily to hospitals.  A needs-based target segment of yours are hospitals primarily concerned with their reputation and creating strong word-of-mouth endorsement amongst patients.

In the past, your best opportunity to win with this segment of hospitals was to convince them of the efficacy and value of your products.  But now, as the hospital’s doctors make their rounds and record audio notes about the recovery of their patients, an AI natural language software program that you provided can glean important insights about overall patient satisfaction with your products. 

For very happy and satisfied patients, the AI program can create instantaneous testimonials that the hospital – your direct customer – can use to enhance its reputation for care.  And you can get information about the performance of your products.

This is just one example of many.  By developing strong segmentation personas, companies that embrace AI to improve their value propositions will find out that they can serve needs that go well beyond their previous concepts of product benefits and features. 

Asking the question “what can we remember for and about target segment customers that they used to have to remember for themselves” is the key to unlocking AI value proposition ideas like these. 

How To Execute on This Vision

Companies looking to apply AI to build an enhanced customer value proposition should follow three steps. 

Step 1: Before buying any AI software, companies should perform a needs-based segmentation analysis on their customer base and highlight a couple of target segments and personas.

Step 2: Examine the most important needs of the target segments and examine direct product features and benefits that can be enhanced by AI.  In addition, the company should examine segment needs that in the past seemed beyond the reach of the company’s value proposition. 

Can AI be used in some way to address these needs?  Remember the question “what can you remember for and about customers that they used to have to remember for themselves?”

Step 3: Once your AI-based value proposition is clear, select the optimal AI software to make your vision a reality. 

The Winners Will Move Quickly Forward with This Vision

When the concept of one-to-one marketing was first introduced in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, experts predicted that companies who executed well would lock-in the loyalty of their most valuable customers.  Their reasoning was that customers would be reluctant to re-teach a company’s competitors what they previously taught their current provider about their needs.

20-30 years later, humans are even busier and more overwhelmed — and more reluctant to recreate relationships.  Now that this type of AI technology is here, companies that overhaul their value proposition for radical customer-centricity will not only win business, they will also be able to retain customers longer.   

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