Will AI and Machine Learning Be Used to Improve CX? Or Just Sell?


As a lifelong marketer, I’ve been excited by the possibilities of big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) to improve people’s lives — their quality of life, as well as making their lives simpler and easier.
I am a firm believer that companies can, and must, differentiate themselves by providing an outstanding customer experience (CX). However, every customers’ definition of an outstanding CX is different. With data, AI and ML, companies have the opportunity to deliver outstanding CX. But will they? Who is going to model a use case or best practices?
Discussion around data, AI and ML today is about selling and retargeting — all company-focused. Two companies come to mind that are putting the customer first and they are known for providing outstanding customer experiences — Zappos and Ritz Carlton.
A friend of mine was blown away after I told him about Zappos several years ago. He then ordered a pair of shoes on a Sunday night and received them before 9 a.m. on Monday. This is years before Amazon was making same-day deliveries.
Ritz Carlton is well-known for training its entire staff to go out of their way to ensure their guests have an outstanding visit. The company’s got the mission statement of “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.”
Both of these companies were differentiating their brand based on CX long before big data, AI and ML. However, we hear very few examples of companies emulating them today, even though they have the data to do so.
As economist Rudi Dornbusch said, “Things take longer to happen than you think they will, but then they happen much faster than you thought they ever would.” I look forward to the latter taking place to restore my faith in marketing.
Banks and health insurance companies have vast amounts of data on their customers as a group and individuals; yet I don’t hear of anyone, save USAA, using that information to improve someone’s life, making it simpler and easier, or improving health outcomes.
I religiously entered data into Foursquare for four years, looking forward to receiving targeted offers to improve my life. Kudos to American Express for letting me save a few dollars at Whole Foods when I was doing my weekly shopping (i.e. spending more than $50 or $75 on a visit). Every other company I did business with missed the boat, and I’m no longer bothering with Foursquare.
I’ve been entering data into MapMyWorkout.com and MyFitnessPal.com for four years. Under Armour bought MapMyWalk four years ago and MyFitnessPal two years ago. I’m an Under Armour customer. Yet Under Armour isn’t sending me anything to improve my workouts, which is my quality of life. I just see ads trying to sell me a $150 fitness tracker, which I don’t need — because I already have an Apple Watch or shoes that won’t fit because they aren’t wide enough.
I realize Under Armour has had a couple of bad quarters. But if it spent more time thinking about how to improve CX vs. just selling more to new customers, perhaps the company wouldn’t be in such a bind?
B2B and B2C companies — use data, AI and ML to find out what will make each of your customers’ lives simpler and easier to earn “customers for life” by providing an outstanding CX. Spend more of your marketing investment to keep customers happy. You’ll have an annuity revenue stream and your raving fans will do your marketing for you for a lot less than Steph Curry, Tom Brady, Jordan Spieth and Misty Copeland.