What Is Customer Intent?

Customer intent is what your customer may not be telling you they want.

Customer intent is what customers are really looking for

Customer intent is generally understood as the intention of driving a customer's purchasing journey (i.e. the intent to buy a pair of shoes for an occasion, or an eco-conscious phone case). Understanding it is crucial for brands to be able to push options the customer is more likely to buy -- especially online, where customer journeys are more fragmented, mobile-based and time-sensitive than ever. “Marketers who rely only on demographics to reach consumers risk missing more than 70 % of potential mobile shoppers. Why? Because demographics don't help us understand what we really need to know—consumer intent—what consumers are looking for in an exact moment or where they are looking to find it,” writes Lisa Gevelber, Google’s VP of Global Marketing.

Customer intent: beyond the buyer intent

As sums up a Customer Contact Week report,

"customer intent looks beyond the superficial (what customers are requesting, where they are requesting it) and focuses on customers’ true goals for the interaction. It is a question of why, not what."

That question applies to more than the purchasing journey: at every step of a customer's experience with a brand, there may be an underlying intent that does not perfectly match what the customer is actually saying. For instance, a client getting in touch with support services can express a range of things, from complaining to requesting more information, asking for help, making a concrete suggestion, maybe even saying thank you.

AI deciphers customer intent

Understanding that intent allows brands to provide better service, but also to identify actionable areas of improvement (on the website's design or the support process, for instance). Ultimately, it is a powerful tool to stay ahead of the customers' expectations on all fronts. To do that well, AI helps make sense of the data generated at every step of the customer's experience, and infer intent from it. Natural Language Processing identifies the recurring topics and trends in conversations, while advanced machine learning techniques can help understand their subtext.

“The more access AI has to data, the more it learns about customer intent and offers the correct solution,”

writes the CCW report. In short, understanding customer intent is about listening closely... and using the right tools.

 

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