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THE B2B WORLD NEEDS TO UNLOCK AI TO BOOST CUSTOMER RETENTION

By Peter Cutts, Dynamics 365 Solutions Director at Xpedition

 

From the feeds that we see in our timelines, to streaming services suggesting what we watch next, Artificial Intelligence (AI) benefits us all daily. Yet while many of us associate advances in AI with rapid advances in consumer-based services, AI is unlocking growth in business to business (B2B) services like never before.

With insights-driven businesses projected to ‘steal’ $1.2 trillion-per annum from less informed companies, the transformation of the marketing industry due to the advancements of AI has been huge. Top-performing companies using AI are also twice as likely as their peers to be using the technology for marketing.

From behavioural recommendation tools to automating time-heavy processes, AI is transforming the industry – but not just for prospective customers. The success rate of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while a new prospect is far lower down the scale at 5-20%.  If that’s not enough to convince you, increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase your profits anywhere from 25% to a huge 95%.

With a slew of competitors waiting in the wings, it’s becoming harder to resist the benefits such as personalisation and customer service that AI offers. In B2B industries, where customer and client retention is just as important as B2C, AI can power your relationship approach like no other.

But how?

 

Know what your customers want, not what you think they want

AI makes things personal. Solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365 can look at behavioural and social data, the results of previous campaigns, and give you visibility into your customers like never before. Using these insights, Dynamics 365 can refine individual customer experiences based on their previous interactions.

Forrester’s analysis of survey responses from sales technology decision-makers found: “Failing to provide customers with the experiences they seek often results in missed conversions and ultimately lower revenue.”

Do you want to keep sending out mailers to customers which aren’t personalised and lose a conversion which you could have gained with AI? You can analyse what makes them more inclined to buy, in addition to what services they’re more likely to buy and then steer them towards this purchase. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology which empowers this personalisation is currently considered one of the most important aspects of sales – right next to lead generation.

 

Don’t Miss Out Important Steps

When you’re moving through the sales funnel, it’s difficult to know what drives each prospective or current client to go to the next step. What works well for one prospect might not work for another. But marketing intelligence from AI solutions can offer recommendations to you that directly relate to the customers’ previous purchase and search history. Now it’s no longer the exclusive privilege of major corporates with huge data centres: every business can offer the same kind of customised experience using cloud-powered AI.

At each stage of the life cycle, you can encourage people to take the desired action, rather than trying to push them down a predetermined marketing route.  For example, when you first welcome a customer, you can encourage them to download an app, allowing you to send them in-app notifications with special offers or suggestions.

 

Predict if a customer is going to leave

It’s easy to take customers for granted. Especially when they have been with you for a long time, and you’ve built a solid business relationship with them. You can easily assume that they’re loyal to you, so it’s a shock when defect to another supplier or service provider. With AI, you can potentially predict and prevent this.

AI democratises information across your whole business.  It can scrutinise data about how and when emails are exchanged, the status of calls returned, patterns of visiting your website and the number of times that they contact customer service.  These factors can flag an at-risk customer, which otherwise would go unnoticed. AI joins the dots together, and can give you this early warning which could be crucial in saving the relationship. Then, you can offer them a promotion or discount on a service which AI shows they are most likely to want to stay happy.

 

Deliver Quality Customer Service

Customer service is poised perfectly for an AI revolution. The days of customers getting agitated by being passed around between specialists in an organisation, and having to reel their complaint or query off numerous times are gone. This time-heavy process before could lead to them hanging up the phone and going elsewhere, or the worker spending ages searching a database manually.

When AI and CRM meet, they can better understand your business customers. Their  case file is reviewed in real-time, and AI delivers relevant prompts to the agent so that they can provide  expert assistance immediately, even if they aren’t a specialist in the particular topic. AI can also enable field agents to deliver an onsite customer service based on CRM data. Benefits include an easy-to-use interface mobile app which guides technicians through schedule changes and service work, the ability to manage resources and equipment needed to deliver the best service, and communication tools to enhance collaboration between all stakeholders.

If you don’t make use of AI now, clients and customers can easily move onto the next business which does have the software, and can offer them the benefits that you simply cannot. From manufacturing to healthcare, utilities to e-commerce, businesses shouldn’t be curious anymore – they need to be investing in it to better their business relationships.

AI automates repetitive work, helps to analyse the huge amount of data that you have, and make more informed business decisions.

 

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Business

STOP THE CONFUSION: HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR BUSINESS MAY BE INSURED AGAINST COVID-19

By Alex Balcombe, Partner at Harris Balcombe

 

The last few weeks has seen businesses in hospitality, tourism, retail, leisure and more forced to close their doors following the Government’s orders that they should close to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

While this is expected to flatten the curve and reduce the number of coronavirus cases, it will of course have an impact on businesses and employees alike.  For small businesses especially, there are many concerns about how they can claim on their insurance to weigh the fall of this impact.

 

Mixed Messaging

In response to calls to help struggling businesses, the Government has informed the public that companies who are facing turmoil will be able to claim on their business interruption insurance during this difficult time. For most, this is wrong.

Alex Balcombe

The insurance industry has also been extremely vocal that there is no cover for any coronavirus-hit businesses during this tough financial period. This isn’t strictly true either.

How can businesses see through the mixed messaging and best secure their future and their livelihoods and reduce money worries? It’s an extremely stressful time for many companies, and confusion over whether or not they can be covered can only cause more unnecessary stress.

Since it’s a new disease, most businesses will not be covered for business interruption due to COVID-19. In fact, the vast majority of policies do not cover anything related to COVID-19.

That said –  don’t rule out the idea that you may be covered. There is a chance that you will be covered against COVID-19, but not know it. This is a very small chance, but your current cover may already protect your business against the consequences of coronavirus, and the nationwide response to it –  though those with this cover are unlikely to realise it.

 

How Could I Be Covered?

Not everyone has business interruption insurance, as it’s not a legal requirement. It is entirely up to the policy holder to weigh up the benefits of having it, and their ability to trade should a disaster happen.

To be considered for cover for COVID-19, there are two types of policy extensions to your business interruption cover that can potentially cover you for this situation:

Infectious Disease Extension 

Many policies expressly state which diseases fall within the realm of being an infectious or notifiable disease. If this is the case, your policy will not provide cover. As it is a new disease, these policies will not have included COVID-19.

Other infectious disease extension policies will define the disease with reference to the actions of the government. Since the UK Government has named COVID-19 as a notifiable disease throughout the UK, it is possible that your business may fall into this definition, thus meaning you may be able to make a claim.

However, again, it’s not always that simple. Many policies require the disease to have been on your premises, while others specify a radius from your premises in order to qualify.

 

Denial of Access Extension (non-damage)

Denial of Access Extension (non-damage) policies may cover you if you’re prevented from accessing your property. This could be due to an event, or by the actions of a competent authority, which could cause your business interruption cover to engage.

If covered by this clause, there are often very subtle differences in wording in your policy. This could depend on the insurer or policy. You may well be covered, but it will depend on your particular circumstances, and the specific policy wording.

 

What now?

It’s clear that the Government needs to do more in ensuring there is clear messaging for businesses, and to help the insurance market look after policy holders. This is an unprecedented situation, and with many people looking to claim on their insurance, we’re already seeing major delays which could have a domino impact.

People throughout the world are understandably facing all kinds of worries because of the current pandemic. Our ways of living have changed, and many business owners will not have experienced a situation like this in their life times. If you own a business and are unsure about whether you can claim for business interruption, or are confused about ambiguous wording, get in touch with a loss assessor.

These claims are not simple, but loss assessors will be experts in business interruption insurance, and will specialise in large and complex claims. They will be able to help and guide you along the way, check your wording and work on your behalf to make sure you get everything you are entitled to.

 

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Business

HARNESSING ANALYTICS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST FRAUD

ANALYTICS

By Anna Lykourina, EMEA Fraud Analytics Expert at SAS

 

In the past, the fight against fraud has been a bit hit-and-miss. It has relied on auditors to identify patterns of behaviour that just didn’t quite fit. They often only detected problems months after the event. And then organisations had to claw back stolen funds through legal processes.

In a world where transactions happen in under a second, however, this is no longer acceptable. We need to be able to detect fraud immediately, if not before it happens. Customers want safe and protected data that is not vulnerable to identity theft through company systems. But they still want to be able to pay online and in seconds. The stakes are high, but fortunately new tools and techniques in fraud analytics are enabling companies to stay ahead of fraud.

 

Trusting machines to do the work

Machines are much better than humans at processing large data sets. They are able to examine large numbers of transactions and recognise thousands of fraud patterns instead of the few captured by creating rules. On the other hand, fraudsters have become adept at finding loopholes. Whatever rules you set, it is likely that they will be able to get ahead of them. But what if your system was able to think for itself, at least to a certain extent?

New approaches to fraud prevention combine rules-based systems with machine learning and artificial intelligence-based fraud detection systems. These hybrid systems are able to detect and recognise thousands of fraud patterns and learn from the data. Automated analytical-based fraud detection systems can reveal novel fraud patterns and identify organised crime more consistently, efficiently and quickly. This makes them a good investment for businesses across a wide range of sectors, including public sector, insurance, banking, and even healthcare or telecommunications.

How, though, can you harness analytics as a tool in your fight against fraud?

 

Identifying needs and solutions

The first step is to identify which options you need. Probably the best way to do this is through a series of company-wide workshops with the fraud analytics experts to determine what analytics you need, which data to include and techniques to use, and what results to report. They can also identify the ideal combination of rules-based and AI/ML approaches to detect fraud as early as possible.

Companies looking towards advanced analytics for fraud detection will need to make a number of decisions. They will need to optimise existing scenario threshold tuning, explore big data, develop and interpret machine learning models for fraud, discover relevant information in text data, and prioritise and auto-route alerts. There may be industry-specific decisions to make, too, such as automating damage analysis through image recognition in the insurance sector. By automating these areas, companies can both significantly reduce human effort – reducing costs – and improve their fraud detection and prevention.

 

Benefits of an analytical approach to fraud detection and prevention

Companies that are already using an analytical approach for fraud prevention have reported several important benefits. First, the quality of referrals for further investigation is better. Investigators also have a much clearer idea of why the referral has been made, which improves the efficiency of investigation. Analytics also improves investigation efficiency by reducing the number of both false positives (that is, alerts that turn out not to be fraud) and false negatives (failure to spot actual frauds). This improves customer experience and reduces risk to the company.

Analytics makes it possible to uncover complex or organised fraud that rules-based systems would miss. Companies can group together customers and accounts with similar behaviors, and then set risk-based thresholds appropriate for each scenario.

There are several sector-specific benefits too. For example, insurance firms can identify fraudulent claims faster to prevent improper payments from going out. Claims investigation is likely to be more consistent because claims are scored through technology, algorithms and analytics, rather than by people. Finally, it becomes possible to shorten the claims process through automated damage analysis. It is no wonder that organizations across a wide range of sectors are placing analytics at the heart of their anti-fraud strategy.

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