A recent study found that a majority of consumers are open to businesses using artificial intelligence if it makes their life easier. And now it seems retailers are following suit. The BRP 2017 Customer Experience survey found that almost half of retailers (45%) plan to utilize AI for customer service within the next three years. 14% have already implemented some form of AI to improve customer service.
Home Assistants Facilitate AI Adoption
BRP theorizes that as consumers have become more comfortable with AI in their own homes through Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, their perception of a chatbot or virtual assistant being helpful has shifted. This could eventually lead to consumers seeing human interaction as less efficient than artificial intelligence when it comes to consumer services.
This theory speaks volumes (pun intended) about how companies can leverage virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant to engage with their customers. We are at the beginning of the mass adoption of these devices, yet they are already changing consumer’s perceptions of AI assistants. What does this mean? Consumers trust and like using virtual assistants. Companies can leverage this to improve the overall perception of their brand.
Can AI Improve Customer Loyalty? Yes.
The top two customer experience priorities for retailers, according to the BRP study, are to “optimize the customer experience” and to “increase customer loyalty.” Using voice assistants for customer service and queries can help brands reach both of these goals. Customers like the convenience of using Alexa for general questions. It is far easier to ask Alexa a question and get an immediate response rather than scroll through a web search looking for the right answer. This convenience factor can also be a driver of customer loyalty. An interactive voice experience can also foster a sense of intimacy, also increasing customer loyalty. When a consumer gets a response from a brand’s Alexa skill, they feel like the brand is talking to them, not at them.
One more interesting find from the study was that 31% of companies plan to implement a virtual closet in the next three years. Perhaps Amazon was to something with its Echo Look. Can the Echo Look change consumer’s perceptions about getting style advice from a robot? It certainly seems like a possibility – if it makes a consumer’s life easier.