E-commerce accelerated exponentially in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic pushed shoppers online. Before, online retail was largely limited to non-essential items, but the pandemic pushed buyers to search for everyday items like groceries and toilet paper online. Now, more than a year since the pandemic began, the world of e-commerce and online retail has completely transformed.
One of the challenges of this digital transformation is that customer engagement went online too. It’s one of the factors that enhances the experience and often drives brands to notoriety, then customer loyalty, and then a greater return on their investment in their customers. Think of companies like Nordstrom, Trader Joe’s, Chick-Fil-A. They’re all known for their customer service, and it enhances the existing customer relationship.
Maintaining customer relations when the world went totally online this last year proved a challenge for retailers. Companies were forced to pare back their staff and move to digital communication with their customers.
In the aftermath of this exponential growth in e-commerce, one thing became evident: there needs to be a bridge between efficient and streamlined digital communication, and the human qualities of traditional, in-person customer service.
Enter conversational AI, customer engagement-oriented bots that communicate with clients in a human-like way to meet needs efficiently and effectively. LivePerson, a leading technology company pioneering in the artificial intelligence world, created the platform and AI tech that allows brands to communicate directly with customers. It’s changed the retail game and transformed digital communication in a way that encourages brands’ client relations efforts and enhances the customer experience.
Conversational AI looks different from traditional chatbots. These three distinguishing factors of conversational AI transform the retail customer’s digital experience and add a human approach to the exchange.
Understand Customer Intent with AI-Driven Data
Conversational AI relies on high-quality bots that offer more than the standard Q&A most companies can offer. LivePerson’s system gathers high-quality intent and contextual data, including pre-existing customer questions and answers, along with new ones that arise. In the midst of all of the shut-downs caused by the pandemic, David’s Bridal turned to LivePerson to reach their customers.
The key to their success was customer intent data. Instead of filing all customers, regardless of need, through the same system, David’s Bridal analyzed the customer experience through data around their intent. They found that where they thought customers wanted to process returns, the majority wanted to process exchanges and needed to be connected with a specialist in that department.
Mapping customer intents made it easier for David’s Bridal to optimize their customers’ conversational journeys with a high-quality conversational AI unique to their business. They witnessed a 7.5x increase in messaging volume and a 700% sales increase via messaging because of LivePerson’s software.
Better Bots Yield a Better Customer Experience
Quality data directly correlates to the customer experience. By building a better quality bot, customer frustration is minimized and customer trust increases every time they receive an answer to the question they are asking.
With brides and grooms already struggling to sort out wedding plans, conversational AI was able to bridge the customer service gap and help David’s Bridal maintain their customer relationships in a time of high stress.
Their business largely relied on their ability to provide brides, grooms and their bridal parties with personalized consultations to make decisions about their wedding attire. When the world went online, they implemented LivePerson’s tech so they could create a virtual bridal concierge system.
Their bot, called Zoey, helped move a largely in-person retail experience into the e-commerce world by offering a direct-to-consumer, front-end means for conversation. Customers could immediately speak with the bot, identify the issue or intent, and then move on to an active shopping experience. The customer experience was improved because AI cut down on idle wait times, and helped David’s Bridal determine customer needs before they spoke with a representative.
Conversational AI Keeps Customers Around
Historically, if customers called a David’s Bridal store and didn’t receive an answer, they might move on to the next bridal retailer. But with LivePerson’s conversational AI system backing Zoey, customers immediately received a response from the brand when they contacted via phone. An SMS system reached out and provided information to the customer, keeping them engaged with the brand and therefore increasing the likelihood of a sale.
Conversational AI bots reduced costs, especially in a time of economic crisis, and also increased David’s Bridal’s profitability by engaging the customer faster, more efficiently, and more effectively. The company also improved its First Contact Resolution rate, the metric that measures the number of customer contacts resolved on the first interaction with the customer. Through the use of LivePerson’s systems, further improving the customer experience by simplifying the process.
Conversational AI has changed retail because it creates a more personalized and efficient shopping experience. Customers are busier than ever, and more likely to hang up the phone if asked to wait. Conversational AI improves the experience for customers, and simplifies the process for brands, no matter what the world throws at them.