“Everyday I am thinking about change” – Miuccia Prada
Oh how we do love a good buzzword, but the term chatbot is more than a catchy piece of tech-lingo, it is a powerful tool to be deployed with the intent of improving your overall customer experience. Conversational AI is the use of advanced computing that doesn’t just surface a binary suggestion based on limited inputs but is constantly remembering and engaging with users to determine what exactly is the best fit. By following these interactions 24/7, these virtual shop assistants act as the eyes and ears of your online store continuously knowing what exactly to surface for each customer.
In a recent report, Gartner predicts that as soon as 2020, 40% of users will primarily interact with new applications that support conversational interfaces with AI. By 2022, it is further expected that 20% of all customer service will be handled by conversational agents.
As an online business owner, you still might not be sold into the buzz around chatbots. What are the benefits, the risks, the downsides? How do you make a safe, educated decision but also do so quickly to not be forgotten about?
Let’s break it down.
Providing an exceptional customer experience and customer support is foundational to the success of any business, be it online or physical retail. Engaging with your consumers in both a reactionary setting and proactively has its own merits but each is uniquely important to the overall customer experience. Conversational AI in the form of a virtual shop assistant gathers and sorts a tremendous amount of data, 24/7, on customers interacting on your website (George Orwell wakes up…), with consent and privacy of course.
By leveraging this data, you can make a more informed decision on how you should engage with this customer.
- Should you jump in to assist them or leave them to their shopping?
- Do you suggest to bundle one product with another or suggest the customer purchase 2 for a discount?
- Do you remind them to checkout or ask them for an email so they can save their cart?
These are just a few of the questions that should be asked alongside hosting an online retail store. Virtual shop assistants solve the problem of costly staffed humans interacting with users and the scalability of real-time support. Adding conversational AI to your website provides a service unmatched in terms of cost vs. customer satisfaction. The added layer to all of this is that the true power of conversational AI is the ability to interact with users in a humanistic way.
Just like within the discussion on customer support, virtual shop assistants can play an integral and ever beneficial role in increasing sales. By engaging with customers in a manner that is unique to the individual, these customers feel less of the “sell” and more of feeling taken care of.
Let’s use an example with customer X. Customer X happens to look at 2 products, one after the other. We may have a section on product 1 that features product 2 within a “others also bought” carousel, but let’s just assume they go from product 1 to product 2. Our virtual shop assistant, in a matter of milliseconds, knows:
- What product customer x looked at
- Historically, what other customers look at after visiting product 1
- How many customers bought product 1 and how many also bought product 2
- What is the appetite or purchasing power of customer 1 through previous purchases and order cart analysis
Upon completion of this analysis, again all within a millisecond, the virtual shop assistant is engaging with customer 1 and suggesting a similar product, in which they also might offer a 5% discount to increase the odds of converting customer 1.
This is exactly the power of conversational AI.
Scaling your e-commerce presence
The final piece of the equation, the result of implementing key technology that offers a new level of customer support and reaps the benefits of increased sales. A chatbot can service 1 customer or 1,000 customers at the same time with minimal impact to costs, a human is 1 to 1. The effect of these inputs means that the scalability of your online store becomes tremendous. This freeing up of limited resources in exchange for a path to increased revenue is unseen in the physical retail space.
By taking the risk upon much needed due diligence and adopting a pesky buzzword, you are unlocking the best tool in your toolbox. Conversational AI allows business owners to become more efficient in their resourcing and provide a better customer experience overall.
The question is, will you give in to the hype?
by: Justin Wells, Chief Marketing Officer & Co-Founder