Revolutionizing retail customer service with AI-powered automation

11 April 2023 | 15 Shares

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In today’s fast-paced world, customers expect instant solutions and seamless experiences – and if you don’t deliver them, your competition will. Retailers must adapt to these customer expectations while maximizing efficiency and maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction. The key to achieving this balancing act lies in harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation in customer service.

The problem with traditional customer service

Most customer queries tend to be simple and repetitive, such as “Where is my order?” or “How can I return my order?” Answering these questions is not the best use of a customer service agent’s time, and waiting for a human to respond can be frustrating for customers, leading to a suboptimal experience.

AI-powered retail customer service

Source: Digital Genius

What’s more, human agents can be swamped by demand in peak periods, leading to longer waiting periods to get answers to these simple questions – reflecting poorly on the company’s customer service. For instance, shipping delays caused by strikes (such as those involving Royal Mail) and issues with other carriers like Evri and DPD can overwhelm customer service agents. Although these problems are not the retailer’s fault, they still have to address the issue and manage customer expectations, further highlighting the need for efficient customer support solutions.

This need is evident in the data reported by DigitalGenius which observed a 20% surge in ticket volumes during peak periods. When examining the monthly ticket volumes leading up to and including the peak period, DigitalGenius noteda 23.5% increase from August 2022 to December 2022, with the elevated numbers persisting through January 2023. Even in February, daily ticket volumes remained 15% higher than in August.

For retailers with constrained resources, a 20% rise in ticket volumes can be extremely challenging to manage. Without customer service automation, businesses must either expand their customer service teams by approximately 20% – and with experienced staff, ready to go – or risk delivering a significantly poorer customer experience.

The solution: Conversational AI and automation

The good news is that these simple, repetitive queries are perfect candidates for automation. Retailers can leverage a conversational AI-powered platform like DigitalGenius to automatically detect the intent behind customers’ free-text queries and resolve them without involving a human agent.

By setting up automated workflows that mimic what an agent would do, retailers can resolve customer queries more efficiently and free up agents to focus on more complex cases, adding value to the interactions they handle.

The benefits of AI-powered customer service automation include:

  1. Faster resolutions and response times: Automating simple queries leads to quicker customer resolutions, ensuring a smoother experience. Moreover, AI-powered platforms can perform tasks that are time-consuming for a human agent such as generating return labels and applying refunds automatically –  saving valuable time for both customers and agents.
  2. Scaling customer service during peak periods: AI-driven automation enables retailers to handle increased customer service demand without needing to hire additional agents. As a result, businesses can scale their customer service operations without increasing headcount.
  3. Enhanced agent productivity and customer satisfaction: With AI handling repetitive tasks, agents can concentrate on more complex cases, upsell and cross-sell products, and provide personalized product recommendations to help convert online customers.
  4. Proactive problem detection and intervention: Retailers can leverage AI platforms to automatically detect delivery delays and act based on predefined rules. When the system identifies lost packages or delayed deliveries, it sends a message to the customer, offering a replacement or refund in accordance with the retailer’s established guidelines. This automation allows retailers to proactively tackle delivery issues, maintain customer satisfaction, and safeguard their reputation, demonstrating how technology can streamline the management of such challenges.
  5. Proactive customer service: Retailers can use AI to monitor order statuses automatically, alerting customers of delays and taking appropriate actions to mitigate any dissatisfaction.
  6. Maintaining a human touch when needed: When set up correctly, AI-powered customer service platforms are designed to prevent customers from being caught in a constant loop of repetitive questions and answers often associated with chatbots. Instead, if the AI tool cannot resolve the issue, it seamlessly hands the query over to a human agent, ensuring that the human element is not lost in the process and that customers receive the support they need.

The future of retail customer service

AI-driven customer service automation provides retailers with numerous advantages, such as quicker response times, improved scalability, and an overall superior customer experience. It empowers agents to concentrate on high-priority tasks and equips them to deliver tailored solutions to customers.

AI-powered retail customer service

Source: Digital Genius

For instance, Beauty Pie, a fast-growing beauty product company, found that mundane inquiries consumed substantial agent time. By addressing issues like cancelling or downgrading subscriptions, they aimed to improve both service efficiency and customer experience. To minimize transactional tickets, Beauty Pie implemented DigitalGenius’s AI platform. During a trial, the AI effectively managed 12,000 tickets per week (40% of all inquiries) with a 96% success rate.

These results show that DigitalGenius enabled Beauty Pie to grow without a proportional increase in headcount, as the AI handles a significant percentage of customer interactions.

“We were able to launch within a couple of weeks,” said Chandni Bhatt, Senior Manager, Beauty Pie. “In no time at all we were automating 40% of our contacts, with a resolution rate of over 90%, while hitting our CSAT goal of 95%… we are so happy to have Route 101 and DigitalGenius as partners for the future.”

DigitalGenius offers a versatile approach to AI solutions by not only providing the “choose-your-own-adventure” style, which guides users down a specific path, but also excelling in interpreting free text. The platform’s Intent Detection feature detects the meaning within a sentence and categorizes it accordingly, boasting a 95% accuracy rate. DigitalGenius even offers a free version called “Automation Analysis.” Users can sign up, and the system will automatically categorize their tickets, demonstrating the potential for automating customer service inquiries while emphasizing the value of their free text interpretation capabilities.

And DigitalGenius offers automation across all channels, including chatbots, live chat, email, and text, while many competitors do not handle email. That makes DigitalGenius a fuller, more rounded solution to your customer service needs.

By adopting AI and automation in customer service, retailers can stay at the forefront of their sector, adapt to ever-evolving consumer expectations, and cultivate a thriving, customer-focused business in the era of digital-first experiences. Click here to learn more about DigitalGenius.