• Artificial empathy allows brands to target individual consumer needs.
  • AI can be used to analyze customer behaviour at scale for personalized insights.
  • But artificial empathy still needs human input and interpretation to work most effectively.

In a proliferated, multi-channel world, every brand needs to win the heart and mind of the consumer to acquire and retain them. They need to set up a foundation of empathy and connectedness.

Artificial intelligence combined with a human-centric approach to marketing might seem like a contrarian model. But the truth is that machine learning, AI and automation are vital for brands today to transform data into empathetic, customer-centric experiences. For marketers, AI-based solutions serve as a scalable and customizable tool capable of understanding the motive behind consumer interactions. This is the power of artificial empathy: When brands target individual consumer needs and connect with them at a deeper level than mere transactional exchanges. When it comes to empathetic machines, Hollywood may have made us think of the likes of Wall-E: robots with emotions. But artificial empathy is fundamentally about giving technology the ability to discover and respond to human emotions.

Artificial empathy and data application

Technology provides us with insights about what the customer has done, but also nuggets and nuances that help anticipate future needs. But to mine them means analyzing reams of data to detect wider patterns or evolving preferences. Businesses cannot just rely on research and data teams to glean what customers are throwing back at them. The need right now is to be active listeners with ears on the ground and an ability to respond in real time.

Artificial empathy in marketing begins with a consumer-centric perspective and is embodied in insights that reflect what data is being collected from a brand’s customers and what meaningful next steps should be taken. It combines data intelligence with artificial intelligence and predictive modelling tools for all critical moments, including websites, store visits, social media or customer service. Some examples:

• AI can detect patterns of behaviour and alert consumers of price drops or new stock-keeping units for favourite items through notifications.

• Delayed or wrongly addressed packages get an exclusive offer for the next order.

Artificial empathy and the human touch

The digital consumer today is always on. Herein lies the opportunity to create exceptional experiences while retaining the hearts of consumers all the while. Many labs are designing software to understand and respond to how what humans say and how they feel. The applications of artificial empathy are wide-ranging, from market research to transportation to advertising to customer service.

Humana Pharmacy, for example, used an empathetic AI service to help its call centre teams handle customers more efficiently through emotion analytics. The solution deciphers the emotions of clients through the mapping of behavioural patterns such as a delayed pause, a rise in speech speed, or tempo. The analysis is relayed to the teams in messages such as “speaking a little fast” or “relate to the customer a bit more”. Such examples of empathetic AI will increase in the future.

Artificial empathy is beneficial to advertisers in understanding how customers emotionally connect to the brand. Insights can be utilized to evolve content and messaging to help optimize campaign performance. Machine learning algorithms combined with consumer behaviour can offer suggestions for improving campaign performance. Such algorithms can be deployed to fine-tune demand forecasting and price sensitivity across target segments along with providing information on purchase behaviour.

But while artificial empathy can help businesses create more effective interactions, it cannot replace human interaction. The primary requisite that makes AI effective is human insight, contextual awareness, nuances and creativity. Businesses must identify appropriate use cases of artificial empathy, and can then strategically implement its use into the services that they provide to customers. The human touch combined with machine intelligence can drive greater return on investment for targeted campaigns.

The impact on marketing

Marketers need to use artificial empathy to create campaigns that are humanized and not just mass-targeted. Here is where it can be utilized to comprehend business needs and harness data that can be distilled in simple terms. Campaigns can then be focused on providing beneficial content to customers after understanding the pain points and challenges of the customer.

With evolving market conditions and constant disruption, brands must demonstrate empathy. Those who fail to appreciate the consumer predicament can fail to communicate in an appropriate tone and risk entrenching negative perceptions of their brand in the consumer’s mind.

An insightful survey by Dassault Systems with independent research firm CITE revealed that younger consumers prefer personalization that enhances the product experience or their quality of life. They are also ready to pay extra and share their data to get it.

Large volumes of unstructured data can be difficult to manage. But this technique allows marketing teams to react accordingly with relative ease. It can also be used to compare product features. Features and attributes that resonate with the target audience can be introduced or enhanced. It can also automatically differentiate between emotions and attitudes and classify them as positive, negative, or neutral using ML (machine learning) and natural language processing (NLP).

AI, machine learning, technology

How is the World Economic Forum ensuring that artificial intelligence is developed to benefit all stakeholders?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is impacting all aspects of society — homes, businesses, schools and even public spaces. But as the technology rapidly advances, multistakeholder collaboration is required to optimize accountability, transparency, privacy and impartiality.

The World Economic Forum's Platform for Shaping the Future of Technology Governance: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning is bringing together diverse perspectives to drive innovation and create trust.

  • One area of work that is well-positioned to take advantage of AI is Human Resources — including hiring, retaining talent, training, benefits and employee satisfaction. The Forum has created a toolkit Human-Centred Artificial Intelligence for Human Resources to promote positive and ethical human-centred use of AI for organizations, workers and society.
  • Children and young people today grow up in an increasingly digital age in which technology pervades every aspect of their lives. From robotic toys and social media to the classroom and home, AI is part of life. By developing AI standards for children, the Forum is working with a range of stakeholders to create actionable guidelines to educate, empower and protect children and youth in the age of AI.
  • The potential dangers of AI could also impact wider society. To mitigate the risks, the Forum is bringing together over 100 companies, governments, civil society organizations and academic institutions in the Global AI Action Alliance to accelerate the adoption of responsible AI in the global public interest.
  • AI is one of the most important technologies for business. To ensure C-suite executives understand its possibilities and risks, the Forum created the Empowering AI Leadership: AI C-Suite Toolkit, which provides practical tools to help them comprehend AI’s impact on their roles and make informed decisions on AI strategy, projects and implementations.
  • Shaping the way AI is integrated into procurement processes in the public sector will help define best practice which can be applied throughout the private sector. The Forum has created a set of recommendations designed to encourage wide adoption, which will evolve with insights from a range of trials.
  • The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Rwanda worked with the Ministry of Information, Communication Technology and Innovation to promote the adoption of new technologies in the country, driving innovation on data policy and AI – particularly in healthcare.

Contact us for more information on how to get involved.

A world where technology adapts to the user is not a distant dream. Already we see digital adoption becoming a crucial part of enterprise digital transformation, allowing chief information officers and business leaders to decode and address gaps in adoption in real time. As we move into the post-pandemic future where the distributed workforce becomes a business reality, the need for empathetic technology will only increase. But as our world becomes increasingly digitized, there also is a clear imperative to ensure it remains fundamentally human.