As a marketer it’s impossible to avoid discussions about how machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) are improving the real-time customer experience (CX). And while we might think we know what that sentence – and all the terms in it – means, there’s a lot of confusion about what exactly does improve customer experience and how exactly it does it. To help navigate what is certainly the most important development for businesses in several years, we sat down with Dr. Chris Nolan, Chief Technology Officer at Alterian who has a Ph.D. in Neural Networks and Genetic Algorithms.
Here’s what Chris had to share with us about how machine learning is improving real-time customer experience by helping marketers put what they know about customer interactions to work.
Modern Marketing Today (MMT): Let’s start with the basics. What’s the difference between artificial intelligence and machine learning? Why does this matter to marketers?
Chris Nolan (CN): The two terms are used so frequently together that the fact that they’re two distinct technologies is often missed. Machine Learning (ML) is a subset of the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is by far the more popular term, but it is still a future-focused technology. In other words, with notable exceptions we’re a long way from capitalizing on AI’s core capability which is in applying learnings from data and facilitating machines to become genuinely creative.
What CX Professionals are actually using is ML. That is, they are using algorithms that ‘learn’, i.e. improve over time by using real world behavior as feedback into the system. This means information fed by data collected from customers’ interactions with the company website, or social media pages, or email newsletters, can be used to continually improve the customer experience. The real advantage for marketers with ML is that a customer’s journey will get continually more relevant & engaging resulting in a greater lifetime value without human involvement. With the right application of ML tools, the improvements in the customer experience apply to real time interactions in the customer’s journey as well as all the other steps.
MMT: How can ML improve the real-time customer experience?