How Sales and Support Teams Can Adapt to the AI-Powered Customer Journey

Steph SmithLast updated on March 21, 2024
5 min

Ready to build better conversations?

Simple to set up. Easy to use. Powerful integrations.

Get free access

If your business is successful you’ve likely considered the customer journey. But if you’ve not, you should—it’s a key tool for any effective sales and customer support strategy. Understanding the actions your customers take before and after a conversion can help your teams to improve the customer experience, ensuring repeat business and recommendations. 

Thanks to the emergence of AI, though, the landscape is changing when it comes to customer journeys. Everything from the way consumers research their purchases, to the technology powering search engines themselves is transforming. 

AI is getting smarter, and the way people search is evolving. Here’s how your sales and customer support teams can react and get the most out of the AI-powered customer journey. 

How AI is changing the way people search

Like all software, search engines are evolving, and AI has a large part to play. Over the past two decades, we’ve become accustomed to keyword searches and SEO (search engine optimization), typing in the terms we’re looking for and letting search engines do the hard work. This also made it easy for organizations—just pick out and emphasize the words crucial to your business, and away you go. 

AI is set to change the way we search, however, and that has a knock-on effect for your sales teams and business as a whole. Gemini is the name of Google’s own AI, and it uses large language models (LLM) to ‘read’ trillions of words and pick up on the patterns that make up language. 

When you enter a question or prompt, Gemini replies using the information it already knows or fetches it from the internet. Think ChatGPT, but from Google. Solutions such as Gemini are also always learning, so they become more accurate over time, getting smarter from your prompts, responses, and feedback. 

While Gemini is currently a stand-alone solution, Google very much intends to integrate AI into its regular search engine, in the form of Project Magi. While details of Project Magi are currently scarce, it forms the building blocks for Google’s future search engine, replacing Google as we know it. 

As with AI-based tools such as Gemini or ChatGPT, we can expect keywords to be out, replaced by a more conversational query-based solution. We’ll ask Google questions, and its AI will respond in kind. It will also learn from your previous questions or even learn on the go, providing more accurate responses and the answers you’re looking for without having to trawl through pages of search results. 

This is fantastic news for all of us who want more intuitive ways to search—but, combined with changing customer behaviors, it does mean businesses need to adapt.

The evolution of the customer journey

The customer journey comprises five key stages:

  • Awareness

  • Consideration

  • Purchase

  • Retention

  • Advocacy 

The journey essentially begins with potential customers researching products, before discovering and interacting with different brands. Eventually, it results in a purchase, from which companies can follow up for repeat business or advocacy—which is driven by fantastic ongoing customer support.  

Like search engines, the customer journey is evolving, with multiple channels, platforms, and devices resulting in an increasingly complex purchasing journey. Consumers are also doing more research than ever before investing in new purchases, with 62% using Google’s Shopping tab to compare similar products from different retailers. 

The increasing popularity of AI, the evolution of search engines, and the desire for customers to be more educated, are converging, providing businesses with the ideal opportunity to evolve how they engage with customers—both before and after they make a purchase.

How sales teams need to adapt 

Naturally, your sales teams will need to adapt to these changing behaviors and technologies. While techniques like SEO and advertising will still play an important role in promoting your services, they’ll just be one part. A more diverse ‘allbound’ sales and marketing strategy can help here, using the right content and touchpoints to meet consumers wherever they are on their AI-influenced customer journey. 

Tackling an increasingly complex landscape head-on, allbound sales strategies merge both inbound and outbound sales techniques, ensuring your business actively reaches out to prospects while also creating content and platforms that naturally attract them.

For example, an allbound strategy might include inbound techniques like building tailor-made content like FAQs or information sheets that can be easily accessed by both humans and AI search engines to draw prospects onto your website. However, alongside this, your organization will also be using outbound techniques like calling, powered by a platform that makes it easy to track analytics and insights on prospects. 

Both of these techniques feed the allbound model. They also work in partnership—prospects that access tailored content can be shortlisted for personalized calls, while outbound callers can reference specialist content to showcase their knowledge. Win-win. 

This wider approach helps to attract and meet the needs of a more diverse range of consumers while putting your business in the driving seat when it comes to providing relevant and educational content for AI-based conversational search responses. 

The role of AI solutions for sales and support teams 

Facing a daunting new world when it comes to AI-based customer journeys, it’s important to remember that your business can also benefit from the very same technology. Your salespeople can deploy AI to help with customer interactions or streamline repetitive or manual tasks behind the scenes, meaning more time to focus on delivering the best possible customer experience. 

AI can improve visibility on customer activity, informing your business of cross-selling and upselling opportunities by analyzing large datasets. It also improves productivity through the automation of tasks, with AI-powered transcription making it easier for sales teams to easily share insights from calls that further nurture the allbound model. 

These same AI-powered features can also make a huge difference to your customer support team. The ability to turn comprehensive datasets into actionable insights will help your business to replicate successes and learn from mistakes. Meanwhile, AI analysis of conversations can highlight common topics, helping you to prepare customer support teams for frequent queries. Overall, AI can make it easier to understand exactly what your customers want, improving their customer experience, which will ultimately be what will drive retention and advocacy. 

In short, just as AI search engines and tools will start streamlining the customer journey, other AI solutions will simplify the day-to-day work of your team. 

Your journey to better selling and retention

Fueled by both new AI technologies and changing behaviors, big shifts are taking place in how customers engage with your business. As more innovations from Google, OpenAI, and others hit the market, this is only likely to accelerate.

As a result, it’s critical to do two things. First, take advantage of the latest AI features that can drive productivity for your sales and support team. Second, put in place an allbound strategy that maximizes the value of every customer touchpoint. 

By doing so, you’ll be well-placed to deliver incredible experiences that drive sales results and customer retention, even as the nature of the customer journey continues to evolve. 

Ready to transform your sales and customer support strategy? Download your personalized copy of The Voice of SMBs report—packed with data and insights to help you deploy the latest tools and close deals faster.

Published on March 18, 2024.

Ready to build better conversations?

Aircall runs on the device you're using right now.