In 2020, artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer seen as something futuristic. It's a part of our everyday lives--from asking Siri a question to telling Google to order groceries for home delivery. It's even being used to help researchers answer tough questions about the Coronavirus pandemic...so we can stop the spread and get back to those everyday lives more quickly.

AI signifies computer software that performs human-like activities, ranging from learning to problem-solving. You might have heard of "machine learning," which is one of the most common types of AI used across all industries. This is the practice of leveraging algorithms to find patterns in huge amounts of data--and automating decisions and actions around that information.

A good example would be Netflix suggesting movies and shows based on the ones you've already finished and enjoyed, or Gmail prompting you to complete a sentence based on phrases you've typed in the past. 

AI is also being used to improve the sales, marketing, and customer experience loop--in way many of us couldn't have even imagined just a few years ago.

Here are three of the ways that brands are leveraging AI to better understand, engage with, and win new customers.

1. Nurture Leads 

Chatbots--which leverage AI to create meaningful and informative conversation with current and future customers--are an incredible tool for customer engagement. You don't ever have to worry about customers dropping off because they are sick of waiting in a queue to speak with a sales representative.

At any hour of the day, a chatbot can guide customers through the marketing funnel and answer their questions. They can even offer personalized suggestions based on customers' buying history. 

Real-life customer service agents will be able to deal with more complex questions while chatbots offer more basic (scripted) support. This will lead to increased productivity for those agents and allow prospects to experience more fluid service. Overall, chatbots automation efforts are estimated to reduce your customer service costs by 30 percent

2. Enhance Customer Experience with Personalization 

You can use AI to gather data about customers' behaviors through every touchpoint of the customer journey. This rich data allows you to create a personalized experience for each customer. 

Businesses without AI spend a great deal of time and manpower collecting this data rather than developing a better experience for customers. If AI gathers the data for you, your team can concentrate on building a powerful strategy that improves customer experience and leads to higher engagement and sales. 

3. Boost Conversation Rates and ROI 

Email marketing and AI go hand-in-hand. AI can analyze data from your email campaigns and suggest the best times to send emails. It's possible to take this even further and automate emails to individuals. Rather than emailing your entire list, you can select different times for individuals based on their past engagement, demographics and buying history. 

Another way you can personalize emails with AI is by using it to recommend products to customers. Keep in mind, personalized email marketing generates a median ROI of 122 percent

Some businesses might be intimidated by implementing AI-powered software. But the truth is, AI is one of the best ways to make your business more efficient and create personalized experiences for your customers at scale. The relationships you build with your customers become the backbone of your business.

Published on: Mar 25, 2020
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.