With many customers purchasing products and services online, the customer journey has become an important part of the sales and retention process. But how does a company keep this fundamental experience from becoming monotonous and cold? Fortunately, as AI and automation in marketing become more attainable, companies can now take their customer journey to a new and more effective level with a personalized experience.

The importance of personalization

60% of consumers are more likely to be repeat buyers after a personalized shopping experience.

As the world becomes increasingly digital, human connection is getting diluted. Think about the last time you tried to contact a customer service department, only to run into long hold times. Or spent the afternoon cleaning out your inbox of email offers that don’t really apply to your current needs or wants.

It is often the little things that make all the difference for a customer – whether it is a tailored offer or a more personalized message. This especially rings true as your customer makes his or her way through their journey to purchase. Imagine the impact of offering upgrades or add-on packages that make sense to his or her specific situation, or being able to offer around-the-clock support, should a question arise during or after purchase. I am sure you can already envision the difference these simple suggestions would make to a sale or to a long-term customer relationship. 

How AI and automation can help

Creating a personalized experience starts with being able to not only collect, but analyze and act on customer data in real-time, and that is where AI can help with marketing. Many companies are already collecting the data, but it is often either not being used or the analysis takes too long to be helpful. But, by capitalizing on the right programs and processes, your customers can have a better experience.

Forbes gives a spot-on analysis of how marketers can use AI to really drive the buyers’ journey in their article, 4 Ways AI And ML Enhance The B2B Buyers’ Journey:

We want proactive answers to our questions. We want to know that businesses understand our unique needs. And that’s where AI and machine learning come in.

A practical application of AI and automation

And while the above sounds good in theory, conventional use of this technology is always helpful to drive the point home. Enter chatbots. This once, semi-annoying technology which used to be glitchy and obviously a machine has now become so advanced, it is hard to tell the difference between the bot and the human. More advanced chatbots use natural language processing, creating human dialogue-like interaction.

If you have ever thought about, but turned down chatbots in the past, it may be time to give them a second look. Also, keep in mind this does not mean you should be replacing all humans with machines.  Your customers are humans after all, so there is an element of human interaction required, it just may not be as intense as it was say 10 or 15 years ago.

Thoughtful incorporation is key

Upgrading your customer journey with marketing AI and automation doesn’t mean you should run out and start buying the latest and greatest available technology. In the Forbes article, How To Use Artificial Intelligence, Personalization And Automation In The Customer Journey, author Greg Kihlstrom recommends first giving your current program a thorough review, see what is currently working and where updates are needed. From there, you can buy the software and systems that will make the most sense:

“Don’t pick tools first and then try to find a way to use them. Instead, first identify the problems you want to solve, and then find the best and most appropriate software and solutions to make your customers’ lives easier.”

Begin today, not tomorrow

As personalization with AI in marketing becomes more mainstream, the “wait and see” approach is no longer valid. Take the opportunity now to review your budget, your current processes, your customers’ needs and wants, and begin implementing the tools that will help you build your company for the future.