By Alain Stephan
This article was originally published on MarTech Advisor.
Artificial intelligence (AI) holds tremendous promise for marketers, but the true value of AI has yet to be fully harnessed. Marketers can position themselves as leaders of the AI revolution within their companies by applying AI to better understand and evangelize the voice of the customer.
Let’s start with the numbers.
85%—that’s the percentage of executives who believe artificial intelligence (AI) will allow their companies to obtain or sustain a competitive advantage.
5%—the percentage of companies that have extensively incorporated AI into their offerings or processes.
Why such a large gap between the hype and the reality? For many marketers, the reason for the huge discrepancy is simple: they believe AI is absolutely the future of marketing, but they are unclear about what AI can do for their business. This is proven by the overwhelming number of companies (61%) that do not have an AI strategy in place. Companies just do not know where to start.
A lot of the blame for this lack of clarity is unfortunately on the shoulders of the very companies trying to sell you AI. B2B tech companies seem to revert back to archaic approaches when it comes to AI—developing software, tools and platforms looking for problems to solve instead of delivering ready-to-action insights. Vendors are selling hammers and telling you everything is a nail.
Let’s make it easy for ourselves. When it’s all said and done, AI is a lot of very powerful algorithms running on very powerful computers. If done properly, the AI is transparent to the user; it simply allows humans to do everyday tasks with more intelligence, ease, and scale.
Understanding the customer is paramount to any marketer’s success. As the American Marketing Association put it: “The CMO’s role is unique because the CMO knows the customer in a way no other officer does. And the person who knows the customer needs to shift the company strategy because profits follow companies that obsess over customer behavior.” In fact, in a survey of 349 senior level marketers, being the voice of the customer for the company was ranked as the number one quality of an effective CMO. What better way to understand the voice of the customer than to analyze data coming from the actual voices of real customers during inbound phone calls? AI technology allows marketers to scalably access insights on what consumers really think of your brand and how they want to interact with it.
AI is perfect for listening to, and understanding, those moments of truth that occur on the phone between your customers and your brand—at scale. First, AI technology will convert all of the unstructured audio of a call into highly accurate, readable transcripts. Second, AI will apply business rules to find patterns in those transcripts, identifying and breaking down the interaction into components. Third, AI will take those individual components, correlate them to your business outcomes, and help you understand drivers, next steps and the effectiveness of marketing efforts.
1. Validate the quality of calls driven by marketing: Use AI to understand how many of the calls from your marketing channel are actual sales leads vs. service inquiries. Customers who call are telling you exactly how effective your marketing is. Use AI to listen to these customers at scale.
2. Gain deeper understanding of how sales is handling your leads: Forget mystery shopping and focus groups—use AI to change the rules of the game. Sales is only a soft skill if the behaviors can’t be measured. Use data to objectively bridge the gaps between sales and marketing. Help your sales leadership understand which locations and reps are best at closing business and jointly establish best practices.
3. Identify your most motivated prospects: Every interaction on the phone is a potential make-or-break moment in the relationship between your customer and your brand. Use AI to identify those customers who could use some extra attention. For example, find those customers who are very motivated to buy, but for whatever reason did not convert to a sale. The data will tell you that they are farther along in the sales cycle—they will have a high lead score but no sales conversion. Act on it! Retarget them, email them, call them. Do it before the hot lead cools off.
4. Understand true customer sentiment at scale: Go beyond sampling and customer surveys by using AI to listen to every valuable customer interaction. Especially in hyper-local businesses, negative online reviews can be the “kiss of death.” Use AI to identify those who are having a negative experience with your company and repair the relationship with those customers before they go online and destroy your brand reputation.
5. Optimize campaigns for quality not just quantity: Demand better data to do your job and intelligently allocate budget to those campaigns driving the best phone leads based on AI-powered lead scoring of every call. Don’t just optimize for the most conversions, optimize for the best conversions. Integrate the insights from AI into your martech stack to understand which ads and keywords are producing the best results.
6. Connect online and offline behaviors: Studies have shown that engaged online customers who make a phone call convert to a sale up to 90% more frequently than unengaged callers. Marketers must tap into those online-to-offline behaviors using AI to understand the true customer journey and how to deliver a personalized end-to-end experience. The phone call becomes the embodiment of your brand promise, a live dialog between the customer and your brand. Where in the customer journey are you delivering on your brand promise, and where are you falling short?
It is critical for marketers to have better insights into the voice of the customer. Rather than asking marketers to be data scientists and AI experts, B2B tech vendors must help propel marketing efforts through access to timely, actionable data. The only way businesses will bridge the gap between the hype and reality of AI is to demand that vendors deliver actionable insights, not more software tools. After all, AI should not give you more to do; it should help you accomplish your marketing goals with more clarity and efficiency—transforming “artificial intelligence” from a buzzword to a driver of real business results.
Your customers are calling, but are you listening? It’s time to look to AI for help.
Know which callers are quality leads, if they converted, and what’s said on the call with AI-powered conversation analytics.Learn more about AI call analytics →
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