Signpost Launches First AI-Powered CRM for B2C Businesses
April 25, 2016 | Contributed by: Greg Sterling
Signpost doesn’t believe there’s anyone else doing what it’s now doing: artificial intelligence-powered, automated CRM. It’s targeted both toward SMBs and larger enterprises. Last week it launched “MIA,” the virtual assistant personification of its new system.
According to Signpost’s PR, “Mia automatically collects customer data such as email, phone, and purchase information to create a perfect customer record. Empowered by this data, she stays connected with customers and prospects to drive word-of-mouth, reviews, and repeat business.” Signpost’s website makes the lofty claim that it system is “The only marketing platform that guarantees outcomes for local businesses.”
I spoke with VP of Marketing Andrea Kayal last week to move beyond the marketing jargon and understand how it works as a practical matter. (Kayal speaks English, unlike many of her peers.)
Signpost is integrated with its customers’ back office systems so it can see transactions. The system captures emails, purchase data, call frequency and SMS messages. These are the inputs. It also uses data and outcomes from its 6,000 subscribers’ roughly 16 million customers to inform the system and the decisions it makes.
Shortly after a consumer transaction, Signpost sends out an email on behalf if its customer-subscriber. That email is essentially an NPS solicitation, seeking to determine whether the customer is satisfied. If the customer is happy the system proceeds down one automated path. If unhappy, the humans get involved.
The automated system creates and sends emails at different times, seeking a variety of outcomes:
- Review solicitation
- Referral solicitation (often with an incentive)
- New customer offer
- Loyalty customer offer
There are weekly email updates from Signpost to keep business owners informed of progress and to make recommendations about objectives. Data is driving all the decisions, not “business rules” or human intervention as a general matter.
While businesses can intervene and manually adjust emails and messaging, the system understands the types of messages are most effective based on analysis of the 16 million consumers and their historical interactions and responses with email. Thus best practices are embedded into the system.
Kayal told me that Signpost/MIA will become more sophisticated over time. When I asked about competitors she said there are numerous competitors in the CRM or “marketing automation” market segments but none that is specifically doing what Signpost is doing today with AI + automation in a CRM context.
She also said that enterprise tools such as Marketo and Salesforce are very manual and even painful to use. Kayal adds that the company sees Salesforce as analogous to BlackBerry before its decline, dominant but ready to be disrupted.
Signpost asserts, with apparent validation from BIA Kelsey, that for every dollar spent on Google AdWords or Yelp advertising it can generate 10X the return in terms of outcomes (e.g, reviews, testimonials, claimed offers).