Ask any marketer who attended the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show and they will tell you that the show was all about data. Connectivity is coming to more and more devices — even those that truly don’t need it (smart hairbrush, anyone?) — which means that more objects than ever before are capable of collecting data. For marketers, this overabundance of data means that there’s greater potential for brands to know their customers’ preferences and habits, provided they can make sense of the data. And quickly making sense of an abundance of data is exactly what artificial intelligence is enabling.

Artificial intelligence (AI), or as some prefer to call it, “augmented intelligence”, was a hot topic at C Space — the area of CES devoted to media and marketing. At C Space, advertisers discussed the ways that AI is empowering them to do their jobs even better. Thanks to AI, marketers can avoid long hours of poring over data, trying to make sense of it, and spend more time exploring the reasons why the data looks the way it does and putting findings into action.

One of the key advantages of AI is that it enables brands to offer better proactive customer service.

One of the key advantages of AI is that it enables brands to offer better proactive customer service. This is one of most important ways brands will add more value for their customers in the future – by becoming highly adept at anticipating their needs, rather than waiting for a customer to approach them with a question or problem.

We can already observe a number of examples where brands notify customers proactively based on real-time data monitoring. Credit card companies, for instance, are notoriously good at responding immediately when data suggests abnormal activity on a customer’s account and notifying customers immediately of potential credit card fraud. These companies know that there’s a lot at stake in such instances and they have sophisticated systems to help their customers avoid the potentially devastating effects of fraud.

Amazon Video also uses data to improve its customer service. For several years, the streaming VOD service provider has been proactively emailing refunds to customers that it can see have had a poor streaming experience – without the customer even contacting them to complain. I have personally received one of these emails without ever submitting a complaint to Amazon. Staples is also working on its connected “Easy Button” that will learn from its customers’ purchase behavior to anticipate needs and proactively tee up orders for office supplies.

These are just a handful of examples of the many ways companies are using data to provide better proactive customer service today. As more and more objects produce data, and AI tools become smarter about interpreting that data, brands will become even better equipped to offer proactive service. It won’t be long before your Internet provider notices a problem with your router and resets it for you, remotely, along with a quick notification, or the smart label on your tube of toothpaste notifies you that it’s ordering a refill and sends a signal to your Amazon Echo to purchase a new one for you.

As brands gain more insight into the preferences and behaviors of their customers, their own distribution channels and more, the same types of technology that are aggregating and unlocking the data will also enable them to deliver proactive service. There will be countless opportunities to make customers’ lives easier and consumers will come to expect it.

For more analyst insights from CES 2017, check out the first post in this series here.

Emily Groch is Mintel Comperemedia’s Director of Insights, Telecommunications. She provides omni-channel marketing analysis and competitive insights to wireless, TV, internet, over-the-top, and home security service providers across the US and Canada.

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