When there is so much discussion of fake news, it can hardly surprise us that consumers feel sceptical about brands.
Many of us dismiss claims about quality, service-levels or adherence to standards because we are so tired of the constant bombardment with marketing claims made across every channel. In the digital-first era, we have less faith in traditional advertising and brand content. Members of Generation Z (born after 1995) already find third-party online influencers and vloggers more compelling and persuasive. Cynicism about a brand grows quickly and can spread like wildfire on social media, whether justified or not.
Cut the noise, we want the “authentic”
Many of us want something more authentic. It’s why, for example, global drinks conglomerates are losing market share to craft breweries, while upwardly mobile consumers aspire to artisan-made products such as cheese or furniture.
The proliferation of digital channels has also given us all incredible choice. We can be gone in a flash, irritated by a poor level of customer experience. A survey of 14,000 consumers around the globe published by consulting giant PwC found that almost a third (32 per cent) would leave a brand they liked after just one bad experience.
When you are responsible for a brand, boosting credibility and loyalty can be tough in the face of such multi-faceted challenges, unless you have the right strategy and access to artificial intelligence (AI) tools. Through AI you can gain an effective understanding of what motivates customers and how their demands are changing. The strategic element comes in recognising that it’s online where the most meaningful engagement takes place. This is where we make our most significant connections with a brand, which demands a substantial shift away from the old conventions that ruled sales and marketing for decades.
An AI platform tells you more than you thought possible
That means companies should use AI to uncover from customer data what may be eluding them through conventional means. They must use what they learn to achieve a deeper level of personalisation. We can take the example of two car dealerships selling the same model of four-wheel-drive vehicle but with very different results. With an AI platform, a dealership can analyse masses of information from transaction, stocking and supply chain data, or details of finance deals, after-care packages, warranties, product specifications and real customer feedback.
Near real-time analysis will reveal significant patterns and insights, showing how one dealership is far better at promoting certain features of the vehicle, or that its staff are less pushy but more effective at selling finance packages.
Insights such as these enable a brand to be more responsive, as consumers now demand. A brand can also achieve a more authentic level of personalisation in customer engagement, cutting through the noise of standard advertising. Individual transaction histories along with browsing habits or inquiry logs can be combined to give a company the ability to intervene with offers, notifications and discounts.
As consumers we not only welcome what has direct relevance to us individually, we remain engaged and feel more positive because the brand is making life easier without being intrusive. If a brand is treating us as a unique human being rather than an entry on a spreadsheet, we are more likely to stick with it.
While an AI platform and the insights it delivers may not cure-all the ills faced by brands today, they are essential. It is the immense data-crunching and self-teaching power of AI that will give a brand the ability to understand what its customers think and feel in near real-time. It’s then up to the brand to respond appropriately and in a timely fashion, building its reputation among thousands of consumers and ensuring they come back for more.
By Matt West, CEO at Feefo
Kizzi Nkwocha is the editor of Business Game Changer Magazine and publisher of The UK Newspaper, Money and Finance Magazine, the net’s fastest growing wealth creation publication. Kizzi Nkwocha is chair of The Ethical Publishers Association and co-chair of The Logistics Association. Kizzi made his mark in the UK as a publicist, journalist and social media pioneer. As a widely respected and successful media consultant he has represented a diverse range of clients including the King of Uganda, and Amnesty International. Nkwocha has also become a well-known personality on both radio and television. He has been the focus of a Channel 4 documentary on publicity and has hosted his own talk show, London Line, on Sky TV. He has also produced and presented both radio and TV shows in Cyprus and Spain.