02 Oct 2023

Out-of-the-box AI: smart assistance to help serve and retain members

If digital transformation was the vision of the last decade, then utilising Artificial intelligence (AI) is the current dream. But one person’s dream is another’s nightmare and diving into the world of software driven by continually learning machines can be a frightening topic – from moral reservations to concerns about AI replacing us humans as well as the skills we have worked so hard to learn.

What’s clear to me in the generally known, current AI landscape is that – yes – the tools are hugely powerful, but only in the right hands. That is, to use ChatGPT, Pika Labs or Midjourney effectively and productively, you have to really understand how to direct it - of course, that takes time to learn.

I also think it’s important to adopt the mindset ‘What can AI do that will help me reach success faster?’ and not ‘What tasks can AI perform so that I don’t have to?’ Plus, personalisation and relevance remain crucial, and AI generated text and images can either fall short or stick out like a sore thumb – or literally 7 thumbs, as in many of the AI-generated people photos I’ve seen!

What is available in the AI space for organisations to use to their advantage – right now and with very little learning required – is cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software that has smart assistance incorporated. You can ask it to help you with a task, or not, and you can edit or adjust anything it suggests.

The huge difference in this type of AI – in software like Microsoft Dynamics 365 rather than ChatGPT – is that it’s undertaking tasks with the baseline understanding of your organisation; the people you serve, the financials, the membership levels, the brand aesthetics and the key messages; as well as all the activity you’ve undertaken.

So, with that in mind, here are some examples where a little bit of built-in assistance can result in a lot of time saved, meaningful communication and happy members.

Creating customer – or member – journeys
Mapping journeys is crucial for any organisation that wants to become truly member-centric but this foundational element of a marketing and sales strategy can be understandably daunting due to its complexity and seemingly ever-moving parts. However, professionals can now type – in everyday language – what they want to create and AI will build a journey. The mechanics might not be perfect, but this is now where your human intelligence kicks in – tweak so you can deliver the most personalised experience for your members to date.

Pinpointing successful marketing activity and messages
When an association defines the key moments for its members in their journeys, it can track how many people reach them. But then what? AI-powered and rules-based attribution models can dig into the data so you don’t have to, and it can analyse how messages and activities are contributing to driving people to the key moments. If something isn’t working, then your assistant will make a suggestion and voilà! Your feedback loop will allow you to understand how well or poorly parts of your marketing mix are performing so you can continuously improve activity to better attract and retain your members.

Writing and designing emails and forms
Sales, marketing and customer service professionals can get a head start on the emails and forms they need to create by typing in the selected topic or topic that needs to be included. Remember, this is AI baked in – and it learns over time – so its proposal will take into consideration your organisation’s previous content as well as the success of those communications. Customer service and support agents can rely on their AI assistant to draft contextual and personalised emails based on case notes, knowledge articles, the current email chain and more. These tools will also interpret styles from your website, including tone of voice, buttons and general design. Naturally, you can edit all elements and perfect the message before hitting send or publish.

Faster customer service responses
Support and customer service teams who use an online chat function often must search for answers and manually type their response, which can leave a future or current member waiting… waiting… waiting. Another out-of-the-box AI-driven feature available in ERP solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365 is the provision of multiline prompts and response suggestions for the agent to choose from in the chat control. Click. Replied. Not only does it learn from the whole organisation's chat history and adapt over time, but the function can be retrained on-demand.

Summarising conversations and support cases
It’s simply a time-consuming task for any team member to review lengthy transcripts, case details, notes, or email threads. And when it needs to be done when a member is hanging on the phone or using online chat, the person can easily get frustrated – especially if they’re trying to resolve an ongoing issue. It’s now possible to just ask your AI assistant to summarise whatever the document or record contains and you can deliver a better service, faster.

Giving members more
When the day-to-day is your focus, it’s not always easy to find the time to review individual members’ interactions and profiles and then give them the personalised attention they deserve. But when smart software can all consider historic data and successes in seconds and presents recommendations, you can take advantage of timely upsell and cross-sell opportunities – whether that’s membership level, events, products or courses. Furthermore, the technology can offer intelligent and critical follow-up suggestions to team members, again helping professionals to get the timing, messaging and channel of communication just right for a particular individual.

The goal of AI-driven tools should be to take the strain for all – not be a beast to be tamed or a replacement for professionals brimming with knowledge and expertise – and a super smart and speedy PA that understands every corner of an organisation, its activities and its members accomplishes that objective.

Out-of-the-box AI technology that is found in cloud ERP solutions – such as Microsoft’s Copilot – simply present the right information at the right time, with suggestions on what steps to take and when. So, if quality service, personalisation, efficiency, accuracy and member-centricity are keystones of your association or institute’s vision, 2024 might be the year to hire the best assistant you’ve ever had. 

About the author

Dylan Mines


About the author:
Dylan Mines
is a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Solution Architect at BrightBridge, a leading technology consultancy supporting organisations with their CRM and ERP solutions.

Dylan’s experience spans more than 20 years working across multiple industries, including trade unions and associations, not-for-profit and financial services, to name a few.

In September 2023, it was announced that BrightBridge was acquired by NoBlue2.


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