You just bought a pair of shoes using your favorite fashion retailer’s mobile app. The next time you walk into their brick-and-mortar store, an associate greets you by name and suggests a jacket that would pair nicely with them.
Apps driven by machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) offer businesses the opportunity to create this degree of personalized customer experience (CX). The combination of AI and mobile technology is enabling hyper-personalized levels of service.
Best-selling author Bernard Marr recently spoke about the intersection of AI and mobile technology at Dataworks Summit in Berlin. Marr described how such a personalized CX—previously the stuff of science fiction—is now possible: “One of the case studies I have on my website is Burberry, and their plan basically is to have a very similar in-store experience to the one you would normally have on a website,” he explained. “So they would recognize customers, they want to understand your past purchase history, make personalized recommendations.”
Retailers want a 360-degree view of their customers. Capturing customer interactions on every communication channel helps provide that comprehensive view of individual customer behavior. When big data is paired with the geolocation abilities of mobile apps, retailers can deliver localized, personalized promotions.
Marr warned retailers to make smart use of the big data they collect. He argued that businesses must prove they are responsible keepers of data and always walk the fine line between helping their customers and being invasive. “In today’s big data world, companies have to be trustworthy keepers of personalized data. For me, this is all about creating transparency,” he said.
Marr sees the GDPR as an aid to that transparency. These regulations make data protection a central tenet in the business-customer relationship. The regulations govern how businesses treat consent, privacy, and breach notifications, and also make customers more aware of how their data is valued and treated. Their implementation offers a chance to build trust between businesses and consumers.
Regulations should not be viewed by retailers or other businesses as hindrances to creative use of AI and mobile apps. The connection that apps make between the digital and online world is rich for exploration, and there’s much to be lost by businesses that don’t make that link. “Companies risk a lot if they don’t use AI and big data to personalize their services,” Marr said. “In particular for me, it’s about giving something back to your customers—so, building this trusting relationship where you, as a business, offer them a better service by using data: a smarter service, but a service that is more valuable to them.”
This connection is a two-way street. Businesses want to know their customers better, but customers insist that this data exchange add tangible value to their interactions. As businesses piece together the bits of information they gather during each interaction—through AI and mobile technology—they can strengthen a personalized relationship with their customers. In turn, customers expect that each interaction will improve and simplify their lives.
Learn more about how companies are using big data in retail.