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How can AI improve your user journey design?

Last checked and updated on 16 July 2019

Artificial Intelligence has been hitting the headlines with mixed success in recent times. While some futurists predict two billion jobs will disappear by 2030 thanks to robots, others believe AI could double economic growth rates by 2035 and boost labour productivity by 40%.

Within the world of UX, artificial intelligence is starting to having an impact for all the right reasons with 38% of consumers believing AI is going to improve customer service. Speaking in a statement, John Watton, senior director of enterprise marketing EMEA at ‎Adobe, said: “AI will take care of the data and insights portion, freeing up professionals to focus on what people are good at: creativity and emotional connections.”

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But what is AI? Simply put, artificial intelligence gathers data to interpret and predict human behaviour. This may sound rather like the definition for UX, which reads human behaviour to anticipate what users will do next.

The complementary nature of AI and UX make them the perfect pair to help you seamlessly give your users exactly what they need – maybe even before they realise they need it.

AI is already a $15 billion dollar industry and the range of business opportunities has led some to predict it will be worth $70 billion by 2020. Only 15% of businesses are using AI but this figure is predicted to double in the next 12 months.

These early adopters tend to be large corporations, according to a McKinsey survey of more than 3,000 companies, that revealed worldwide AI adoption outside the tech sector is still at an early, experimental stage.

But early adoption of AI technology brings benefits to all businesses. Speaking in a statement, Carlos M. Meléndez, COO and co-founder of AI software house Wovenware, said: “Early AI adopters get to redefine their industries and how they operate. Just as software and the personal computer did, being an early adopter enables companies to influence and shape the transformation of their respective industries and become thought leaders in the process.”

A recent survey from Deloitte also found 83% of early AI adopters have already achieved either moderate or substantial benefits from their work with these technologies for their business. According to the Deloitte report, “something is working and it’s changing perceptions.”

Whatever the size of your business or its objectives, there’s no reason why you can’t use AI now to improve your UX. You just need to take a strategic approach where you identify a business area that could be substantially improved with a little AI. Let’s look at a couple of those application areas now:

Boost your communication with chatbots

Chatbots are a creative way to communicate and engage with your users. They use artificial intelligence systems that interact with users through a messaging app, text or even speech through systems such as Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant.

A range of businesses are jumping on the chatbot bandwagon. For example, the Bank of America recently unveiled its voice-activated AI assistant called Erica, which will allow the bank’s customers to chat via voice or text message to the bank’s mobile app. Staples is also launching an AI-powered office assistant to help you order office supplies by voice and text.

Such examples are likely to be more forthcoming in the future as more than 35 million Americans already use a voice-activated assistant device at least once a month, which is a jump of more than 125% compared to the previous year.

There are three main types of chatbot: informational bots that provide general information to your users, transactional bots that allow users to interact by (for example) booking a hotel room, and advisory bots, which are the next evolution in chatbots that are able to learn based on customer interactions to determine the appropriate next steps.

“Chatbots are data driven, scalable and enable a richer customer experience,” according to the Deloitte report Adopting the power of conversational UX, which adds: “Despite their popularity, it isn’t as easy as it seems to create a truly valuable chatbot. You need to design an experience that provides value both to the customer andbusiness.”

This is a crucial point. While AI technologies are improving, they are still in the nascent stages, so you need to set expectations as to what your AI offering can or cannot do. We’re a long way from HAL.

This is particularly important when onboarding your users. If you can get your users to understand the limitations of your chatbot and what it can do for them, you should increase your average user session length and get essential information from the user.

If you decide to integrate a chatbot into your products or services, a lot of careful thought, planning and user research is required to make sure your bot is engaging and easy to use. Tread carefully, but don’t be afraid to embrace change to keep you ahead of the competition.

Use machine learning to activate personalisation

Research reveals on-site personalisation is cited as the second most common use case for AI. It’s a vital business tool as more than two-fifths of consumers moved to other brands due to lack of personalisation and trust, according to research by Accenture.

And, when brands get personalisation right, research reveals marketing spend can deliver five to eight times the ROI and lift sales by 10% or more.

Personalisation is already an established marketing tool for e-commerce sites where, for example, recommendations can be made to a user based on their previous purchases. However, this can be notoriously hit or miss, until you integrate a little AI into your personalisation approach.

AI personalisation allows you to create scalable personal experiences where you can optimise your content accurately based on your user’s interactions with your online presence. According to Adobe, this reduces your market risk as you are able to understand audiences better, improve your content relevancy and boost your ROI and revenues.

Businesses are using AI personalisation in a range of innovative ways. For example, AirBnB’s “Price Tips” tools: “lets Airbnb hosts see exactly where they should set the price of their property on a day-by-day basis to make it most likely to be rented.” If you’re pricing too high, your prices appear in red, if they’re just right, they’re displayed in green.

It’s a simple premise that sits in front of a complex AI algorithm that assesses and constantly reevaluates the market forces for AirBnB’s property hosts.

Aside from using machine learning to improve its movie recommendations, Netflix has also implemented an AI algorithm to adjust images and overlying text so they are the most impactful for a user’s specific device or location.

With AI, you can gain more meaningful insights from your data to get individual personalisation right. This will allow you to create unique customer profiles and provide relevant experiences based on personas – not the usual demographic and transactional data.

It’s clear that the impact of AI is only just starting to be realised. The possibilities of an AI-enhanced user experience are just starting to surface and boundless use cases and applications will become more prevalent as this technology becomes more established.

If you’d like to find out more about AI and how it could help you business, click here to contact us.

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Important – The information provided in our articles is intended to be for general purpose use only, and not advice for you or your business. We strive to publish accurate information, but encourage you to fact-check and seek expert guidance. You should always speak to a qualified professional to get tailored advice about how to operate your business under your specific requirements and circumstances.