Reimagining customer experience in the age of AI

Image of perosn wearing a red jacket and a hat.

If there is one thing we’ve learned about the digital economy, it is that it changes rapidly. It is hard to believe digital marketing has only been around for 15 years. For many of us, the days before mobile or social seem as distant as the days before the PC or color television. Someday, we may look back at the generational shift that is upon us and say the same thing about generative AI. Today, though, the immediate focus for business leaders is much different: Although generative AI is everywhere, many CEOs, CIOs, CMOs and CDOs have yet to find anywhere they can confidently deploy it to generate real business value and results.

This is starting to change, though, especially in Customer Experience Management — the process of improving, analyzing and managing all the interactions your customers and prospects have with your business. Customer Experience Management is (or should be) a top priority for every brand with a digital presence. Marketplaces are becoming more crowded and attention spans are becoming shorter. To break through, brands need to accept the new reality: Corporate buyers and consumers alike want their interactions with a brand online to mirror the personalized attention they receive over drinks with a familiar sales rep or from the moment they consider their next beverage at a favorite coffee shop. Nearly eight in ten consumers want the experiences they have with a brand to be more personal, according to findings from Adobe’s research.

Generative AI is making it possible for customer experiences to be more personalized than ever before. The process of delivering hyper-personalized experiences to millions of people on the right channel at the right time is often called personalization at scale and it’s the Holy Grail for marketers.

As with the Grail itself, the road to personalization at scale is rife with challenges. Today, businesses are limited by the number of content variations they are able to create — true personalization can require tens of thousands of variations to be made of the same image, video, etc. — and the number of customer journeys they are able to deploy. Add to that the reality every business on earth is looking for ways to do more while spending less. If you are going to sustain profitable growth this is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

Meanwhile, the digital environment is shifting rapidly, and this presents challenges for even the leanest, meanest teams. Then there is the matter of agility: It is becoming harder than ever to anticipate customer needs and deliver meaningful experiences at a time when attention spans are shrinking, and marketplaces are getting more crowded.

Where and how generative AI can help

Generative AI can be the elixir for these pain points, bringing automation, optimization and productivity to the three key ingredients of personalization at scale: content creation, customer data and customer journeys.

True one-to-one personalization requires your business to automate and optimize every link of your content supply chain — the people, tools and workstreams you use to plan, create, produce, deliver and measure content. Simply put, this is hard, really hard. A recent Adobe survey found nearly 90 percent of organizations are struggling with managing content through the end-to-end content lifecycle.

Generative AI can make it a lot more seamless and productive — connecting workflow and planning processes to make them transparent, fast and efficient; transforming creative work, automating content variations at scale and empowering marketing teams to create on-brand content more efficiently; centralizing, managing and governing asset management across millions of assets; and delivering and activating content across every step of a customer’s journey with your brand.

Take, for example, Adobe GenStudio, a generative AI-first application that enables marketing teams to accelerate on-brand content from discovery and ideation through creation and production to activation and measurement. It brings state-of-the-art gen AI powered by Adobe Firefly Services to marketers who can use it to create on-brand content with unprecedented scale and agility. In turn, brands and their agency partners can unlock new levels of creativity and efficiency in marketing campaigns.

All of this requires information about what customers want, need and expect. Yet, data engineering skills are scarce and even if you have the right expertise, it is hard to know where to find the right data while respecting your customers’ privacy and preferences. Fortunately, the age of generative AI is offering new solutions. When you embed generative AI capabilities directly into your data platform, you can empower your marketers to define the right audience, access the right data and do so in complete alignment with your customers’ privacy and preferences, as well as your brand’s own policies.

At Adobe, for example, we are using generative AI to help us offer businesses a single view of their customers’ data across every channel, enabling them to create precise segments and deliver personalized experiences, regardless of when and where a customer interacts with their brand. In support of this, we now process 17 trillion segment evaluations per day.

Last but not least, for an experience to truly feel personal, the customer journey needs to feel like a one-to-one interaction. This means arriving at a place where both you and your customers can start and advance them. It must be a two-way street or, in this case, conversation. The journey should adapt and evolve based on every one of those two-way interactions, and take the entire context of the customer and your brand imperatives into account.

In the era of generative AI, the old, impersonal ways of shoehorning customers into journeys is going the way of the dinosaur. It is being replaced by journeys that are created with explicit understanding of your customer’s intent so you can refine and also create new journeys as you go.

Screenshot of Adobe Firefly.

Customer experience in the age of generative AI

All of this has come together fairly quickly. Just 12 short months ago, when a diverse group of business leaders from across industries and around the globe converged on Las Vegas for Adobe Summit, the world’s largest digital experience conference, generative AI was a hot topic of conversation — but still mostly just a curiosity. Frankly, it was next to impossible to find the signal in all the noise.

What a difference a year makes. Fast forward to March 2024, and as the same group gathers, the signal emanating from generative AI is growing clearer and stronger. While it is still early innings, this technology is fundamentally reshaping what is possible with Customer Experience Management, with real business value and results to be gained today.

This value promises to expand even further tomorrow. Imagine if you could provide customers with a trusted “digital concierge,” a personal brand ambassador that makes each individual customer feel cared for, understood and special — their own personal banker, travel consultant, healthcare advisor, fashionista and travel agent. This may seem distant, but generative AI is bringing it closer to reality by the day, and the prize will be huge for brands that seize the moment and succeed in delighting customers.

The impetus on brands is clear: prepare and embrace the age of generative AI swiftly — and thoughtfully — or risk being left behind. Customer Experience Management and personalization at scale have never been more important. But never has the technology making them possible been so ready for your business to deploy. At Adobe, we would love to take this journey with you.