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Top marketers’ secret recipe for increasing customer engagement

Imagine if you could apply all of the consumer data that your brand gathers to create highly personalized experiences and engage your customers at exponentially higher rates than you do today. It’s not only possible — some of the top marketers are actively making it happen.  
We know this because we conducted research into what’s happening at the intersection of customer experience (CX) and artificial intelligence (AI).
Microsoft Advertising, in partnership with Advertising Perceptions, studied marketers from companies of all sizes and industries. We found that 20% of marketers are outperforming everyone else because they are experts in both understanding their customer journey and using that knowledge to market to the customer throughout their journey. This expertise is what we call Customer Experience Quotient (CXQ), and these marketers we call High CXQ Performers. The remaining 80% of marketers we call the Learners.

High CXQ Performers have discovered how to deliver on customer expectations by calling upon a blend of human creativity and harnessing the power of machines. They harness AI — and in particular — cognitive services, so they can engage customers at scale in a personalized manner.

20% of marketers harness AI — and cognitive services stand out

Cognitive services make it possible to not only understand but capitalize on the terabytes upon petabytes of consumer data being gathered to create experiences that drive customer engagement. More specifically, cognitive services refers to machine learning and AI algorithms that help integrate human-like capabilities into applications. And a select set of marketers uses them to enhance customer engagement.
Here’s what our research revealed about how High CXQ Performers apply AI technologies (defined as chatbots, digital assistants and cognitive services) and the advantages they realize as a result:
  • High CXQ Performers dramatically increase customer engagement with cognitive services. These leaders are twice as likely as the other 80% of marketers to take advantage of chatbots, digital assistants and AI cognitive services technologies. However, they improve customer engagement by far greater degrees using cognitive services than by using digital assistants and chatbots (by nearly 1.5 and 2X greater respectively). In fact, High CXQ Performers boost customer engagement 88% with AI cognitive services, compared to the 29% of Learners who do so.
  • High CXQ Performers achieve 33% higher revenues. High performers reap huge rewards by using AI. When it comes to increasing customer engagement, High Performers see 21% higher engagement and 33% higher revenues compared to the other 80% of marketers.

What are Microsoft Cognitive Services?

Microsoft Cognitive Services is a collection of 25 tools that allow developers to add features such as emotion and sentiment detection, vision and speech recognition, and language understanding to their applications. And they can do this with zero expertise in machine learning. In other words, these tools make it easy to use AI to build smarter, more context-aware applications. Microsoft’s Cognitive Services span the categories of: 
  • Vision: allow apps to understand images and video
  • Speech: hear and speak to consumers by filtering noise, identifying speakers, and understanding intent
  • Language: process text and learn how to recognize what consumers want
  • Knowledge: map complex information and data to solve specific tasks
  • Search: access billions of web pages, images, videos, and news with Bing
With this comprehensive portfolio, marketers can quickly embed the ability to see, hear, translate, decide and more into their apps making it possible to engage consumers in a natural and more human way via interactive experiences.

Cognitive services in action

Here’s a real-world example of cognitive services used in marketing:
Telefonica is one of the largest telephone operators and mobile network providers in the world.  Wanting to change how it engages with customers, this Spanish multinational telecommunications company used Microsoft Azure Bot Service and cognitive services to build and support Aura, an intelligent conversational agent for multiple services. With Aura, Telefonica customers can manage their products and services with the company, get real-time support, or just change the TV channel, all through natural voice interaction and personalized user experience.
We want our customers to love us. And by using Microsoft and Azure AI technology to make engagement with our services more human, we will certainly increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Irene Gomez, Aura Global Director, Telefonica

Other brands that are leveraging cognitive services include:
Progressive Insurance with their Flo bot, a virtual assistant that mirrors the personality of their TV persona Flo. Flo from Progressive uses personality and wit to help customers move payment dates, file claims, get quotes, and more.

Product view of a sample chat session with the Flo from Progressive virtual assistant.
A sample chat session with the Flo from Progressive virtual assistant.

Lark has over 2 million customers who use its one to one personal coaching service chatbot to get assistance with lifestyle coaching, dieting, disease management.
Casper, the mattress company, has the insomnobot-3000 which is only active between 11 pm and 5 am, a friendly bot to keep you company when you can’t fall asleep.
These are just a few examples of brands leveraging cognitive services for their customer experience.

Start better engaging consumers today

The real promise of AI is not to replace or replicate creativity, but to take its potential to the next level so you can engage with your target audience more naturally and personally. For more on marketing with cognitive services, read the Microsoft Advertising eBook on Creating Smarter Customer Journeys.