One Digital Agency’s Practical Approach to AI for Customer Engagement – Part 2

By Jamie Griffiths in Marketing
·5 min read

Artificial Intelligence (AI) isn’t the future. It’s the now. It’s time to really get to grips with what it can mean for adopters. And to start seeing it as just another customer channel we should be engaging our customers through.

Jamie Griffiths, Managing Director of UK-based digital agency Reading Room, has been talking to us about what AI can do for businesses. In the previous article, we focused on why companies should introduce AI into their businesses, the main concerns they have and pain points they encounter, typical reasons for resistance to AI, and the major considerations companies should be aware of when adopting AI.

Today, Jamie talks us through why adoption of AI is currently slow, the benefits for early adopters, and how technology can support companies in adding AI to their omnichannel strategy.

Why aren’t more companies adopting AI?

Adoption is one of the biggest challenges. I often find that companies don't really understand what AI could be doing for them. Just like twenty years ago when we’d get clients at Reading Room who knew they needed a website, but didn’t really know why. Since then, of course, digital maturity has accelerated and they know exactly what they want their website to do, where the ROI is coming from, and precisely what their customer engagement points are.

But we’re still in that starting phase for AI. At Reading Room, we help clients develop their understanding of how AI can support them in their organization. However, adoption can be hindered by internal cynicism about its benefits and the practical applications of it. By using the rapid prototyping technique discussed in the previous article, we are able to present a beta version for cynics to really see how it could be useful. In fact, we often find skeptics become fervent supporters of it and eager for the company to progress quicker down the maturity path.

So for companies questioning whether there is enough critical mass to make adoption of AI services worthwhile, this really depends on what your definition of success is. Is it getting people to sign up for your services? Is it people requesting information? Registering for your newsletter? It’s important to identify and define those KPIs and keep the criteria realistic to start with, with engagement being one of the key metrics for ROI.

What’s to be said for early adoption?

You know, many years ago, I worked a lot with Sky TV. My team designed the Domino’s Pizza service, which was one of the first on there. We created a novelty channel service using a web-based system, where both the data and presentation layers were all abstracted away from one another. Then we contacted Domino’s and said; “How would you like to sell pizza directly to people watching TV?”, and they asked how difficult it was to do.

At the time, Domino’s Pizza sponsored The Simpsons on Sky One. So we arranged for their bumper ads to offer a big red dot that viewers could select to go straight through to the Domino’s custom channel,  through which they could order pizza using their remote control! They didn’t even have to move.

The campaign was perfect. And because Domino’s was an early adopter of a new engaging omnichannel digital experience, they absolutely stole the market for online pizza ordering in the UK for several years. They went from having a very small market share, to becoming one of the biggest pizza franchises in the UK. They were so successful that the master franchise owner came over from the US to learn more about the omnichannel experience offered by the UK.

That's the opportunity early adopters have nowadays. You don't have to take unnecessary risks. You can actually introduce AI without major expense. But if you're a little bit bold—a little bit ambitious—then you can completely steal the march on your competitors.

So what technological considerations are there for early adopters?

Technology is moving fast! At Reading Room, we talk to our clients about making their digital services as flexible as possible and not limiting their prospects because you never know where technology is going and you don’t want all your hard work now to be incompatible with the next big thing.

This is where Kentico becomes quite interesting, particularly its headless offering, Kentico Cloud, because you can completely abstract your content or data away from your presentation, giving you the flexibility to use that content in any way you want to—on any device here now or still just a prototype. And this has real benefits to our clients in delivering AI services quickly because all we need to think about is: what does the application layer look like? What does the translation layer look like? The content can then be pushed through the presentation layer to the device or AI service you’re offering.

Businesses should be thinking of AI as just another channel—another route to their customer—whether it's a chat bot, a visual service that recognizes the customer persona and responds with persona-specific services, or any other method. It should be part of their omnichannel strategy. And if they’ve structured things correctly, omnichannel that includes AI becomes really quite straightforward.

So according to Jamie Griffiths, AI is a powerful tool for engaging your customers. Adoption, however, has been slow due to cynicism and lack of understanding. But AI is just another channel. Early adopters who structure their services with an omnichannel approach; work out their metrics for success; and start small and move fast are going to be the big winners here. Jamie’s advice? You’ve got to be a little bit bold!

Jamie is the Managing Director at Reading Room, having previously carried out a number of different roles in his seven years at the Agency. Jamie has been involved in digital since 1996. As a result, his knowledge and experience have both breadth and depth. He is passionate about all things digital, and says he loves it because there is always something new to learn, or an interesting challenge to provide a solution for. Day to day, Jamie enjoys getting involved in the details of what we are delivering to our clients. He is also a leading member of the Kentico Advisory Board in the UK.

Reading Room: "Kentico has been in our blood since 2012"

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By Jamie Griffiths in Marketing
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