Tech Skeptics Need to Face Their Fears and Embrace Artificial Intelligence

Without AI, your company immediately falls behind

Not implementing AI into strategies can only hold your brand back at this point. iStock
Headshot of Ben Lamm

Some brands are still wary of incorporating AI into their customer engagement strategy. They would argue that they’re technology skeptics—I would argue that they’re technology ignorant. If you haven’t already started implementing AI into your customer engagement touchpoints, you’re losing on all fronts. From cohesive brand messaging to higher employee satisfaction, AI is the tool you need for your business.

Social media won’t save your brand

When the social media sphere first exploded, it was like a piñata burst open for brands. Companies scrambled to build their voice on these new networks. Social media was promised to be the most direct, casual connection to your customer, the beginning of a new conversation that would unlock potential for customers to invest in your brand and products.

Simply being on social media isn’t enough, of course. It’s not a secret weapon that automatically creates customer engagement. Social media is about execution, and we’ve seen that brand managers have fantastic ways of screwing up a customer conversation. Whether they’re using memes without understanding their cultural implications or they’re blasting their company after getting fired, employees are unpredictable brand advocates.

It’s not the medium that’s the problem, though; it’s the messenger. A human is easily lured down unprofessional rabbit holes. Artificial Intelligence is not so easily duped. In fact, AI just wants to answer customer questions in exactly the way that you tell it to.

If you haven’t already started implementing AI into your customer engagement touchpoints, you’re losing on all fronts.

For every reason that social media currently fails as a customer engagement tool, AI can help it succeed. With AI, there’s no need to worry about disgruntled emotions eventually making their way onto the corporate Twitter timeline. There’s no fear that someone will take a joke too far in a customer chat or use language that could be seen as offensive, appropriative or just plain unhelpful. Even better, your AI agent will always know the answer to customer questions because it has a perfect memory.

At its core, AI helps to guarantee compliance. And while compliance doesn’t sound like the sexiest or trendiest customer engagement strategy, it’s the one that works best. Compliance means that you get 100 percent fidelity to your brand messaging. It means that you get a guaranteed upsell in every conversation. And it means that you never have to worry about another flame war between your intern and the latest Twitter troll.

Predictability, especially today, may be underrated in the headlines, but it certainly won’t be underappreciated by your customers on social media or beyond. Be it a Facebook chat or an automated call, compliance and predictability ensure happier engagements long-term because expectations are consistently met. Your brand is in better hands when fulfillment is so routine that it’s literally automatic.

It’s time to clear your calendar

AI is also a better customer engagement tool from the point of view of the marketing team. Customer service jobs are notoriously stressful, and the work itself is rote. It’s a well-known fact that customer service representatives have to endure raging customers one minute, basic and boring questions the next.

You don’t need a human being to answer questions about hours of operation, speed of delivery or simple product concerns. And you shouldn’t want to expose your employees to the changeable moods or problematic opinions of your user base. Having to respond to these questions over and over again can be inefficient at best, and at worst, draining for your employees and your business.

These situations are of course not the true embodiment of customer engagement, but they nonetheless take up the bulk of the workday. In the process, the real work of engaging with the customer and building brand loyalty gets pushed to the background.

As long as we have human agents taking responsibility for the questions about opening times and return policies, that is all that they will be doing. These necessary but non-substantive answers will continue to eat into your employees’ days.

AI gives employees that time back, freeing up your human agents to engage in more meaningful follow-up with customers or even strategize stronger forms of engagement. AI can actually answer the basic questions better, anyway, drawing on previous user history instantaneously and having a truly photographic memory for company products and speaking points. Rather than having your employees shuffle through a Q&A while in a chat with a customer, AI can retrieve the information immediately—and it won’t resent the customer for asking.

Any smart employer delegates roles and team composition based on individual employee strengths. AI shouldn’t be excluded from that conversation. Having an AI agent plug into the pain points of your customer service reps will not only dramatically improve your employees’ lives, it’ll make your customers happier, too. Like a domino effect, you’ll see that when agents have a schedule that prioritizes work that is rewarding, your customers feel valued. When AI can do the grunt work, your employees can do the great work.

No, AI isn’t the next cure-all for your business, nor is it the new customer engagement team writ large. But it is a necessary tool for you to incorporate into your business, especially if you want to keep up with the expectations of your customers and the next era of brand engagement.

At the end of the day, being a tech skeptic shouldn’t put you at odds with being business savvy. AI belongs firmly in the latter category and deserves to be an essential part of your company strategy.


@federallamm Ben Lamm is co-founder and chairman of Hypergiant. (Disclosure: Adweek’s parent company, Beringer Capital, is a minority investor in Hypergiant.) He is also a member of the Adweek Advisory Board.
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