Retail Executive

SEP-OCT 2017

Retail Executive is the trusted advisor to top retail executives from the industry’s most profitable retailers. We help retail executives succeed in their job role and grow their business via exclusive, actionable, peer-driven content.

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Chatbots In Retail: 7 Ways To Ensure Success Chatbots look to transform the way retailers engage with customers. But success relies initially on thoughtful and strategic deployment. M I L A D ' A N T O N I O Principal Analyst — Customer Engagement, Ovum tomers, that translates to ease of business, frictionless experiences, and personalization. If the chatbot should encounter roadblocks and fail to deliver on these expec- tations, customers may become frustrated and defect. To ensure chatbot utilization and CX optimization, re- tailers should make considerations for the following: 1. OPTIMIZE THE CHATBOTS TO LOOP HUMANS INTO THE COMPUTING. If chatbots need to handle complex tasks, a blended AI model, in which agents are ready to step in, works best. This is especially important for complex transactions or nonstandard inquiries, which require additional consideration. Customers can direct their queries toward an agent, but if the question is sim- ple, the bot can answer directly. If the chatbot has a high confidence of not being able to answer the question cor- rectly, it can prompt agents with canned answers that they can use. Along the same lines, after the bot answers each question, it could ask the customer if they want to speak to an agent for more clarification. In either case, it's important that the agent can access the previous chat history so that they can pick up where the bot left off. 2. STRATEGIZE PROPER ONBOARDING APPROACHES. Providing tailored suggestions to keep the customer engaged can be useful. Devising helpful tips and ex- amples on how to use the tool can ease any potential customer frustration. Onboarding should be a guided experience to help customers understand how to use the bot in a friendly way. To get customers in the habit ventually and inevitably, chatbots will dis- rupt how retailers engage with consumers, triggering a long-term paradigm shift in how consumers will interact with machines. It's important, therefore, for retailers to consider what degree of investment in the solution will provide the op- timal outcome in customer satisfaction and deliver a su- perior customer experience. They also must ensure the chatbots are aligned to their overall business strategy to safeguard their enterprises economically. ENSURING CHATBOTS DELIVER SUPERIOR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES As companies realize the quick ROI of AI-powered chat- bots brought on by automation and instant response, the market will see rapid deployment of them, as companies substitute live support with virtual agents. Those ready to harness the disruptive impact of AI and enter the path to progress should learn to embrace and integrate AI into their current business models. Before companies start building their chatbots, they should clearly identify the tasks that their intelligent virtual agents will perform. It's also crucial to ensure that the other aspects and features of the AI platform make sense for a company's business model and con- sumer base. Whether it's business process automation through first-level queries or more in-depth customer engagement deployments where chatbots can predict intent and make transactions, chatbots should add val- ue and deliver superior customer experiences. For cus- E In recent years, the retail industry has arguably been at the forefront in the adop- tion of digital technologies to meet the rapidly changing expectations of consumers. The adoption of AI-assisted chatbots is no exception. Chatbots that assist customer service and enable conversational commerce are poised to bring tremendous inno- vation in the way brands connect with customers. CHATBOTS Customer Engagement By M. D'Antonio CHATBOTS IN RETAIL: 7 WAYS TO ENSURE SUCCESS RETAILEXECUTIVE.COM SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017 38

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