Not Just a Buzzword: AI Will Play an Essential Role in Your Customer Communications

Part 1 of an interview with Steve Biancaniello, CEO of Messagepoint; read Part 2 here!

Artificial Intelligence has become a growing component of Customer Communications and the overall experience. Software vendors have started to integrate into their software offerings with some companies further along than others.

Messagepoint has taken a leadership role and has put AI front and center in their offerings, so I wanted to touch base with them and get their thoughts on the subject. What is AI, the value proposition, what should organizations be thinking about, and what recommendations our friends at Messagepoint have.

Steve Biancaniello, CEO of Messagepoint was kind enough to take the time and share his thoughts.

This is a two part interview. Part two is available here.

Skip: Steve, thank you for taking the time.

Steve: It’s my pleasure. Thank you for asking.

Skip: So let’s get right into it. Why is AI important to customer communications and customer experiences?

Steve: First, I think its important to define what AI is. AI is essentially a technology that can learn and perform cognitive functions/tasks independently. This enables the intelligent processing of raw data at scale to perform any number of tasks.

AI adds speed, power, and scale to the processing of complex problems that would be extremely difficult, tedious, and repetitive to accomplish manually or with normal software tools. It also automates repetitive, labor-intensive cranial tasks, recognizes patterns that are not obvious to humans, and can democratize expert knowledge.

This can quickly translate into tangible business benefits, such as lower costs, improved quality of communications, faster and more context-specific responses to customers, and even more intelligent offers to customers.

Skip: Where do you see organizations getting the greatest value from AI in the area of customer communications?

Steve: There are lots of points within the customer experience today where AI already plays a role. For example, online personal shopping assistants powered by IBM Watson, chatbots that handle customer service inquiries, or targeting of personalized offers via email.

But when it comes to customer communications, we feel the greatest value lies in managing and optimizing content. There are a number of thorny problems with content – the sheer volume that most enterprise-scale organizations have and the slight, subtle variations that lead to redundancies and

duplications, the need for the same content to be published across all the different channels through which we communicate with customers. With its ability to handle scale and process information quickly, AI seems perfectly matched to help address those challenges.

That’s why we built The Messagepoint Advanced Rationalization and Content Intelligence Engine, known as MARCIE. MARCIE automates and improves key processes relating to content management, optimization, and migration, all at scale. Think of it as an intelligent assistant for content authors when creating and managing content and communications.

Skip: What should organizations be thinking of when it comes to managing and optimizing content with AI?

Steve: Content operations at scale are very complex, especially when you’re dealing with customer communications. Much of the content leveraged for customer communications is still stuck in old systems that require programming, deep tribal knowledge, and manual processes to work with it in anyway. These systems represent key barriers that stop organizations from being agile and responsive.

First look for content management tasks that you can automate to simplify and scale operations. A good example of this is using AI to analyze content and tag it with the appropriate metadata. Humans are notoriously bad at doing these kinds of tasks at scale.

AI can also perform functions that require understanding the meaning of the content. This formerly required human intervention to make judgements but AI models are becoming increasingly effective here. Given this, it also makes sense to look for ways in which AI can help you improve the quality of your content. For example, you could support a content optimization effort by identifying content that conveys the wrong sentiment.

Some AI-based capabilities will also identify content that performs better, or which content is most relevant to a customer to truly deliver on the right message, at the right moment, to the right person

With MARCIE we have chosen to focus first on enforcing brand guidelines, reading comprehension, sentiment, and consolidating duplicate and similar content. As organizations expand the ways they think about managing and optimizing content, MARCIE will also expand their capabilities by supporting additional AI-assisted content management use cases.

Skip: What recommendations do you have for someone looking at a solution that promotes the use of AI?

Steve: Recognize what you still want humans to control and what you want the machine to control. Many AI solutions learn over time and that is a great thing, but it needs relevant data to learn from to understand nuances in your own communications. This is particularly true when the tasks are complex, such as writing new correspondence. If you automate too much of the content creation process for example, you might suddenly hit the wrong note and end up with a customer experience problem for the sake of efficiency. A solution has to strike the right balance between providing insights that enable more intelligent action and full automation. This can be achieved when AI-assisted authoring is seamless, intuitive, instantaneous, while not restraining the expertise of the content authors.

Skip: Thank you once again. I am sure our readers will benefit from your insight. Best of luck to Messagepoint and thank you and Messagepoint for your support of Xplor and the industry.

Steve: You are welcome and of course if anyone has any questions and/or would like more information they can feel free to contact us.

Look for part two of the interview with Steve Biancaniello, CEO of Messagepoint in the next issue of E-Document News.

About Messagepoint
Messagepoint is a leading provider of customer communications management software. Only Messagepoint harnesses AI-powered Content Intelligence to automate and simplify the process of migrating, optimizing, authoring, and managing complex customer communications for non-technical (business) users. Our customers rely on our award-winning platform to consistently deliver exceptional, highly personalized customer communications across all platforms and channels. For more information, visit