In the current business landscape, those who create and manage customer communications are faced with a unique set of challenges. On top of delivering important information in a way that reflects your brand, you are also tasked with meeting the growing customer demand for highly personalized digital communications that connect with customers on an individual level. Also, complex information needs to be concise and written in plain language so that it is easily understood by the majority of your customers. These characteristics in communications can increase engagement, loyalty and the amount that customers spend. Simply put, improving the quality of your customer communications impacts business results and improves customer lifetime value.
Balancing clarity and emotion can be tricky to achieve. For organizations looking to avoid leaving customers with a negative impression, it is natural to try to put a positive spin on certain communications such as a declination or default. Research shows that reading fear-provoking words, such as “no,” “illness” or “death” releases stress hormones that impair reasoning, significantly reduce reading comprehension and diminish trust in your organization overall. On the other hand, an overly upbeat sentiment may fail to reflect the true severity of a situation, leaving your customers feeling confused about the level of urgency and the response expected of them.
Another factor with implications for customer engagement is reading comprehension, particularly with communications that involve complex topics, legalese or industry jargon. With approximately 54% of U.S. adults reading below a sixth-grade level, communications that aren’t written in plain, accessible language can present a barrier to customers when it comes to understanding the content of the message and the actions customers are expected to take in response. Overly complex language can also heighten the stress response they experience while receiving bad news, reducing their reading comprehension by much more than either of these factors alone.
Most organizations have vast libraries of communications, but initiatives to update and reformulate these for continued use rarely get off the ground due to the time-consuming nature of the process. The idea of having to comb through hundreds to thousands of communications to optimize content can certainly be daunting, but there is help.
Let AI take the heavy lifting
Recent advancements in generative AI make it possible to accelerate the optimization of communications.
Using natural language processing (NLP), generative AI platforms are capable not only of identifying the emotional content and reading comprehension level of a particular text, but also of suggesting potential rewrites to increase customers’ level of understanding and engagement. Additionally, since these platforms are trained using large quantities of reference material, they can dramatically accelerate the process of analyzing content libraries and more accurately pinpoint aspects of a text that may pose a barrier to consumers.
According to a recent eBook from analyst firm IDC, respondents representing companies of all sizes had positive reactions to generative AI use cases due to platforms’ ability to maintain or suggest language to address the level of complexity. Rather than being a replacement for humans, generative AI platforms reduce the amount of time spent generating, rewriting or tailoring communications, to provide a starting point that can be validated by a content curator. This allows authors of communications to devote more of their time to higher order concerns.
The benefits of an AI-powered core management system
The level of efficiency enabled by generative AI is further increased when fully integrated with an organization’s customer communications management (CCM) platform. Without this integration, content authors must copy and paste the results of their prompts between multiple applications, an inefficient process that offers only a static representation of generative AI’s capabilities. In the world of CCM, picture users of legacy CCM solutions copying content from Word, to ChatGPT, back to Word and then having to upload that to a CCM solution. Additionally, this process of copying and pasting directly into a tool like ChatGPT or Bard can present significant risks in terms of data security by increasing the likelihood that confidential customer data — as well as the content of your communications themselves — will be input into an AI model and internalized as part of its training.
When the capabilities are baked into an organization’s CCM platform, greater security is in place to protect against the wrong content being loaded up to the generative AI platform. In addition, look for solutions that have controls to ensure that your content isn’t being used to train the AI model and that the content isn’t being retained in the solution for long periods.
It is also important for solutions to help you quickly identify opportunities or areas of concern by analyzing your entire content library and corpus of communications. This allows focus on the problem areas instead of just haphazardly reviewing all content.
Generative AI offers numerous opportunities to streamline the production and editing of content, from eliminating time spent on formatting conventions to aligning the message with a situationally appropriate sentiment. This is particularly true when these powerful tools are integrated with solutions that manage content and communications — an increasingly common feature that draws upon organizational data and allows for stronger, more consistent messaging across all channels. By providing support for the readability and sentiment of your communications, generative AI makes it easier and faster for you to foster positive relationships with customers and maintain a consistent representation of your brand.
Patrick Kehoe is Executive Vice President of Product Management for Messagepoint, Inc. an AI-powered customer communications management solution that automates and simplifies the process of migrating, optimizing, authoring and managing complex customer communications for non-technical (business) users. Patrick has more than 25 years of experience delivering business solutions for document processing, customer communications and content management.