Institute for Experiential AI Launch Keynote Don Peppers on How AI Will Enhance the Customer Experience

by Anna Fiorentino

Don Peppers Keynote Address at Discover Experiential AI. (Photo by Heratch Ekmekjian)

To a room full of business executives and academics, Don Peppers discussed a different kind of intelligence — not one that’s “superhuman,” but one he calls “a tremendous convenience,” particularly when it comes to the customer experience.

“My whole life has been about making the world safer for customers, from one-to-one marketing, to CRM, to account-based and customer-experience management,” says Peppers, keynote speaker at the April 6 launch event for Northeastern University’s Institute for Experiential AI (EAI), entitled Discover Experiential AI.

In today’s information-based economy, customers come first. And it just so happens that AI is perfectly suited to improving relationships with customers. To Peppers, navigating the future of marketing means using AI to improve how we tailor the treatment of each customer based on what AI tells us about their behavior and background.

“We need to explore potential solutions for a particular customer through things like agile management, lean startups, and design thinking. That makes AI tremendously useful,” says Peppers, a best-selling author, co-found of the management consulting firm Peppers & Rogers Group, and founder of CX Speakers, which educates companies on building customer relationships.

Don Peppers Keynote Address at Discover Experiential AI. (Photo by Heratch Ekmekjian)

In his keynote address, Exploit or Explore?, Peppers got to the heart of how ML tools can deliver capabilities that help marketers understand their customers. Likening humans in business to systems of bees in their hives, he explained that to succeed in a customer-centric world, executives should not only “exploit” outcomes that are defined, repeatable, and quantifiable, but also be prepared to go off the map to “explore” unpredictable discoveries. Because today, like a bee with infrared vision that avoids predators so they can harvest more honey, businesses must also find new ways to create a frictionless experience for customers in order to succeed. Marketers have to be ready to adapt to the most efficient way possible to understand and empathize with the needs of their customers — through patterns found in massive datasets. With AI, he points out, businesses can decode signals from customers by searching through comments for complaints, for example.

“We don’t have to spend hours going through comments. It’s simply a way to explore more efficiently,” says Peppers. “With real-time alerts for human workers, AI helps us to anticipate the next need, ensuring each customer’s success.”

Don Peppers Keynote Address at Discover Experiential AI. (Photo by Heratch Ekmekjian)

But, he didn’t hesitate to note that AI can only help us improve the satisfaction of customers if we ensure that humans are kept in the loop, making this new data-focused frontier trustworthy, accurate, and relevant.

The thing is, they’re only computers,” he adds. “It’s a mechanism for improving the human condition, but it has to be understood — it has to be used properly.”

Watch more lively multidisciplinary presentations and panel discussions from the April 6 DEAI event, which celebrated the launch of this foundational center for research and applied AI solutions. Contact us now to join forces with EAI in research or business.