We all encounter a wide range of customer experiences, from simply awful to a few that are outstanding.  There is a real opportunity to use AI for better customer experience across the board, not just in faster growing sectors, as shown in the table below. One of the leaders in this transformation is of course Amazon:

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”

Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO

Another innovative retailing start-up founder, who also provided exceptional customer experiences, voiced a similar perspective nearly a century earlier:

“Treat [the customer] as guests when they come and when they go, whether or not they buy.”

Harry Gordon Selfridge, Founder and CEO, Selfridges, Oxford Street, London

Incidentally, Henry Gordon’s grandson, Oliver, was an innovator in early computer science and artificial intelligence. The New York Times reported: “With four other colleagues, Mr. Selfridge helped organize a 1956 conference at Dartmouth that led directly to creation of the field of artificial intelligence.”

One of the requisites for exceptional customer experience is personalization that is informed through insights created by applying advanced analytics and machine learning to vast amounts of structured and unstructured data. Another is that the brand facilitates communications, exchange of information and transactions in an easy, quick and effective manner.

The payoff for customers in successful AI implementations includes:

  • Brands will recognize and remember them and their preferences, and will make recommendations that anticipate their needs and which delight and surprise them.
  • This will be brought to life through consumers’ interactions with intelligent digital assistants, who know them well based on previous conversations, and who have real time access to the customer’s history and preferences as well as access to product inventories, services and policies.
  • Customers receive instant answers and reduced overall response times by over 60%.
  • The “persona” of the digital assistant will also be shaped by self-learning so the customer is reassured and confident that the assistant “gets it.”

Brands that create personalized experiences by integrating advanced digital technologies and proprietary data for customers are seeing revenue increase by 6% to 10%, according to Boston Consulting Group research1—two to three times faster than those that don’t.  BCG predicts: Over the next five years in three sectors alone—retail, health care, and financial services—personalization will push a revenue shift of some $800 billion to the 15% of companies that get it right.

The McKinsey Global Institute table below provides a solid framework for AI adoption across sectors. Here are some examples of AI adoption related to improving customer experiences.

  • High tech / Telecommunications – Substantial AI opportunities include more efficient collection and use of specialized information, and significantly improved customer service through intelligent digital assistants. Large corporations as well as startups are also focusing on Internet of Things and Robotics which include applications for improving customer experiences.
  • Financial Services – Major financial institutions have embraced AI for automated trading, risk management and improving customer service through chatbots. Startups are disrupting the financial service / payments industry by offering AI-driven solutions including quantitative trading, predictive analytics, personal assistants, payment services and personal finance.2
  • Retailing – Major retailers like Macy’s, Nordstrom and LVMH are embracing chat bots and digital assistants to improve customer experience across stores and online. Start-ups are tackling reinventing cross-channel retailing across a wide range of business applications.
  • Healthcare – Health AI presents opportunities across a diverse set of therapy areas, including wellness and lifestyle management, diagnostics, wearables, and virtual assistants, according to an Accenture report.3 Healthcare is the hottest sector for artificial intelligence, with startups applying AI to everything from genetic research to emergency room management to clinical trials.4 Major tech companies including Apple, GE, Google and Microsoft are also making significant investments in health, wellness, and life sciences.


  1. Profiting from Personalization, May 8, 2017, a BCG publication.
  2. CB Insights Fintech 250: The tech startups redefining the financial services industry. Posted August 7, 2017
  3. Artificial Intelligence: Healthcare’s New Nervous System, Accenture, April 18, 2017
  4. CB Insights – Virtual Nurses, Drug Discovery, & More: 101 Artificial Intelligence Startups In Healthcare. Posted September 5, 2017
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