How conversational AI bridges the gap for retail customers

opinion expressed by entrepreneur Contributors are yours.

The pandemic of the last two years, among many other things, has changed our consumer patterns, including 89% buyers Expressing concern about in-store purchases and proximity to other people.

All of a sudden, retailers were digitized to have a customer interaction channel, and while online retailers barely felt the change, it was a new reality for offline retailers. This resulted in a technological breakthrough that would normally have taken years to build, and the e-commerce sector grew beyond that. 30% in 2020,

More than two years have passed and the digitization of retail is gaining momentum with AI-powered conversational agents being an important part of it. Chatbots connect with customers online, providing information and answering questions, among other things. Juniper Research The chatbot expects to save retailers globally $439 million per year by 2023, compared to $7 million in 2019. In this piece, I’ll talk about the competencies that conversational AI can build for retailers and the common obstacles that stand in the way of chatbot projects.

RELATED: 4 Ways to Use AI to Enhance the Customer Experience

Conversational AI meets retail

According to AccentureThe chatbot is mostly expected to reduce the time taken to process the requests and increase the productivity of the employees. Here are some examples of how conversational AI can help retailers navigate the challenges of digitization:

Less cost

AI-powered chatbots make it possible for businesses to provide excellent customer service without increasing the workforce. The technology enables businesses to make a call the moment a customer receives an order and still remember the entire history of communication with the company. The results of a smart call will show whether customers are willing to recommend the company to other people and help businesses adjust their strategy, loyalty program and rewards system.

better service quality

chatbots And voice assistants can answer consumer questions 365 days a year, day and night, on holidays and weekends. Unlike human agents, AI-powered assistants do not require sleep and can still assist customers after business hours. Naturally, when customers get immediate assistance, it increases their satisfaction with the services.

high response rate

Bots respond quickly in a consistent and specific manner, without providing any insignificant information to the customer. When integrated with CRM systems, they can access order history and customers do not have to repeat basic information about themselves.

better awareness

Chatbots and voice assistants allow businesses to stay in touch with customers and notify them about new products, promotions and discounts. Customers regularly look up information about the company – when they need to make a purchase, they know where to go.

increased loyalty

The consumer sees that his requests are understood. This attitude is the foundation for building trust and loyalty to the company. Brand supporters are important in competitive industries such as retail because it costs a lot more to attract a new customer than to keep one.

fast customer response

Personalization in marketing has been around for a while: some 75% consumer “Will be willing to shop from brands that deliver a personalized digital experience.” To offer this hyper-personalization, businesses need specific data and chatbots can more easily handle data collection than a call center and at a lower cost.

HR Process Automation

Large retail chains employ thousands of different professionals. They need to find and hire the right candidates as per the standards of the company and train the new employees. The bots can take care of the initial selection of candidates, scheduling the date and time of the interview as well as the training programmes.

RELATED: What Small Retailers Can Learn from the Industry’s Push Towards AI and Big Data

Retail Digitization: Things to Consider

Despite an extensive list of business processes that conversational AI can help automate, there are reasons why some retailers are in no rush to adopt the technology.

Legacy Customer Relationship Management Platform

Among the things hindering conversational AI adoption is the fact that retail companies often use legacy CRMs and heavily customized billing systems. There are so many different technologies, products and systems “under the hood”, that it is very difficult to digitize business processes. Sometimes, to change an order, two to five systems have to be used to get the required data.

So, if a company wants a voice bot that will answer inbound calls and notify customers about the status of the order, they will need all the necessary integrations and ensure that the voice bot has the right systems and quick access to data. have access.

Nevertheless, it is also important to say that upgrading a system or transitioning to a new CRM platform at retail is extremely costly and time-consuming.

budget

In addition to costly upgrades, there are other reasons behind the high cost of conversational AI projects in retail: from a wide assortment of products to large data volumes to customization requirements.

That’s why large retail chains are more eager to adopt conversational AI; They have a substantial amount of inquiry topics and automation results in less contact center load, less time to provide information, and ultimately, customer service costs.

However, today more conversational AI tools allow small businesses to build even basic chat and voice bots, and thus introduce contact center automation. ManyChat, Voiceflow or . like with visual bot builders dialogue studioLittle or no coding skills are required to create such a bot that will help reduce the contact center load during seasonal sales.

In addition, there are ready-to-use AI-powered conversational solutions that meet the specialized needs of retailers. Thus, a smart shop assistantFor example, the mobile app helps customers easily navigate, place orders using voice commands, and check shipping information, as well as solicit feedback from users after a purchase.

RELATED: How AI is making the retail shopping experience easier for e-commerce consumers

People

Those who venture into an AI bot project need to remember that the work doesn’t end there. This implies continuous training, adding seasonal items to the catalog, refining bot scenarios, and promoting new specials. Here the retailer has a choice: assign management to a vendor or invest in a strong in-house team.

no panacea

There are many ways conversational AI technologies can benefit retail, but what works for one company may not apply to another. For example, a voice bot for outbound communication that acts as a consultant and seller would be suitable for products that people buy regularly: contact lenses, pet food, etc. But it’s unlikely that this technology will work for a retailer selling refrigerators – here, a voice bot for NPS surveys would work much better.

summary

Digital transformation is not something businesses can shy away from, while the growing market for conversational AI technologies and successful implementation of cases prove that retail chatbots and virtual assistants will soon become an integral part of our lives. Fortunately, as technologies evolve, the adoption of conversational AI is no longer the prerogative of large retail chains, small and medium-sized businesses can start with basic conversational solutions, but no change is too small.