There is no denying the fact that technology and automation have rapidly transformed the way business is done. The rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), in particular, has given rise to interesting speculations about how rapidly robots will take over the workplace.
Customer-facing industries have jumped on the chatbots bandwagon almost as soon as they arrived into the market. The results have been increased efficiencies and reduced costs, especially in customer service functions. It is no surprise then that businesses across a plethora of industries are looking into how they too can adopt chatbots and what it can mean for their business outcomes.
Read More: The Future of Chatbots Statistics & Trends
As consumers are spoilt for the convenience offered by e-commerce, consumers are increasingly expecting conversations related to their purchases to happen online, anytime, anywhere. This makes the role of chatbots increasingly apparent in a market saturated with businesses trying to outdo each other in terms of customer service.
Let’s explore areas in which chatbots can make shopping a simple and more enjoyable experience.
The one thing that makes a customer come back to an app or a website is superior service and finding products suited for their needs. In order to stay ahead of the competition, it has become imperative that retailers are actively engaging customers 24/7. A happy and engaged customer is likely to spend more than the disengaged one.
Chatbots enable retail businesses to provide superior customer service by driving customer engagement 24/7 without requiring human intervention 24/7.
As an intuitive alternative to customer service, chatbots are making waves with their conversational user interface, backed by machine learning in order to provide efficient and personalized product recommendations and a way to smartly engage with the customers.
Chatbots also integrate with various communication channels such as Facebook Messenger, Kik, and e-commerce websites. This allows retailers to provide 24/7 support, enhanced shopper experience and recommendations. The overall result is happy returning customers and a noticeable boost in sales.
Shopping online can be chaotic since there are a plethora of choices and large catalogos can often be clumsy and overwhelming. That said, how would you like it, if you felt like you’re in a physical store with a shopping assistant?
Chatbots are creating a similar experience as that of a physical store. They assist customers online by helping them navigate through various options to find the products they are looking for. With the intention to provide excellent customer service, chatbots are programmed to answer simple queries and provide front-line support to customers and to accentuate their shopping experience.
“Chatbots integrating with messaging apps” is an emerging retail trend.
Retail therapy, is no longer abstract. With the kind of experience messaging apps are providing in terms of usage, retailers are able to effectively eliminate friction for customers.
Also, integrating chatbots with a messaging app is enabling customers to experience a whole other level of shopping experience.
2016, saw a major upcoming trend with the launch of H&M’s chatbot on messenger app Kik. A significant amount of customers liked the recommendations and user experience. The experience enabled customers to choose from the recommendations, filters and style preferences. It enabled them to share product pages and favorite items with their contacts on the Kik app.
Similarly, fast-food giant Taco Bell integrated their chatbot with the messaging app Slack, which allowed customers to use the app to request food items, prices, ingredients and pay. This integration led to the brand’s expansion and enhanced their brand image.
Macy’s optimized chatbots for mobile and web primarily to locate items and provide customer service, which includes answering queries and assisting customers in finding the product they’re looking for.
Sephora is pushing towards conversational commerce with its debut on the messaging app. With Kik, Sephora is connecting with their customers to drive sales, by leveraging the one-to-one experience and replicate in-store conversations on mobile. Customers can directly make purchases within the Kik app. Sephora Chatbot enables users to make beauty recommendations, DIYs, read ratings and find products that are accurate for their skin type and tone.
The bot provides an experience similar to that of shopping with a friend or a store associate while interacting with the appropriate content and finding relevant products. Sephora Chatbot with the messaging app Kik is particularly targeting Gen-Z audiences and providing a fun, social platform to engage with their customers and improving the brand image with innovative ways of engaging with new and existing clients.
Retail companies deploy several field-sales personnel who need quick and easy access to key sales data. Working in field force is all about the data – recording past interactions and saving data for future references is paramount when you’re talking to the customer during your front-line sales activities.
Allowing your sales personnel access to AI-powered intelligent sales bots provides them with valuable insights, which further gives them the leverage they need to close sales along with reminders and notifications which provide timely assistance to the sales force in doing their tasks leading to the elimination of manual efforts and increase in efficiency and saved time.
It is crucial for a salesperson in the field to have access to all relevant data and be able to prioritize the line of actions. With intelligent sales bots and the conversational interface they offer, it gets easy and quick to make informed decisions. Sales reps can focus on tasks that need their attention, be more productive in shorter time periods.
HR departments often struggle with managing a large and disparate workforce – right from managing job recruitment, selection, onboarding and promotion to developing and overseeing employee benefits and wellness programs. They also have to draft and enforce personnel policies. All of these are challenges that can be addressed by chatbots.
Automating HR functions and enabling conversational experiences eliminates paper-based workflows and allows the HR department to be better connected and more efficient.
Let’s walk through how chatbots can improve the process of hiring a new employee.
Chatbots can help the HR department smoothen the onboarding process. AI helps eliminate repeatable tasks and efficiently answer frequently asked questions related to – training processes, documentation feedback, work ethics, codes, etc. – all of which are particularly relevant and vital for new hires.
AI-powered chatbots facilitate change throughout the company, by regularly updating changes in the backend, and ensuring that all employees are notified immediately.
Chatbots for HR also enhance communication between the HR department and employees, enabling faster accomplishment of tasks.
Now more than ever, it has become imperative for retailers to harness analytical data on supply chain motion, inventory levels, consumer demand, sales, etc. – all of which are critical to making sound business decisions, especially in the areas of marketing and procurement.
Chatbots enable advanced retail analytics that offers detailed customer insights, as well as insights into the business and processes of the organization, in order to highlight areas that can or should be improved. BI bots are particularly gaining popularity because of their ability to: engage in natural conversations, provide real-time alerts and effective security and enable seamless integration.
As businesses work hard to increase employee productivity, BI chatbots incorporate a culture of analytics to employees’ daily workflows.
Acuvate’s BI bot lets employees get access to relevant BI data and analytics via a 3rd party messaging app like Slack, Skype and more. The bot provides a persona to the BI system, filters data and eliminates the need to switch between multiple dashboards.
The BI bot from Acuvate can seamlessly adapt to office jargon and correctly interpret user intent. It sends data, key analytics and alerts to the relevant user, and keeps them updated about any data anomalies.
It also includes important features such as multi-factor authentication, channel authorization and user authentication. The bot seamlessly integrates within your line of business applications and makes transactions while searching for your documents.
While the above are industry-specific use cases of chatbots, retailers can also consider generic function-specific use cases of chatbots such as:
By leveraging AI bots, enterprises are revolutionizing help desk practices with 24/7 availability and quick responses, thereby enabling employees to be more productive.
Increased support from the IT staff enables employees to access self-service without the need to constantly go through a ticketing system. AI bots help employees with basic issues and answer their queries to fix problems easily, without requiring human intervention.
AI bots reduce support costs by minimizing the size of the staff that is typically required to maintain the IT helpdesk department. Also, since employees can enlist the assistance of chatbots to get issues resolved, there is less dependence on a helpdesk for low-value tickets. This means there are fewer interruptions at work and subsequently, improved productivity.
Successful Intranets are known to increase employee collaboration while contributing to knowledge management within an organization. An employee typically has to login to the intranet to gain access to new updates, messages, notifications, etc.
However, when a chatbot is implemented into the intranet, it can serve a variety of purposes – it can keep users notified about relevant updates, announcements, news, and other sources of information stored on the intranet. Chatbots facilitate an environment where employees are automatically made aware of vital information and are provided with hassle-free access to insights and quick suggestions, thereby motivating employees to continue using the intranet.
Acuvate’s MeshBOT helps mitigate intranet adoption challenges by empowering employees to optimally utilize intranet. As employees interact with MeshBOT, it gathers information and patterns, which enables it to provide a personalized experience.
Chatbots have a variety of use cases for industries across the board, but for retail, in particular, they hold great promise. Dramatically increased sales, upsell and cross-sell opportunities, informed decision making, personalized experiences, improved customer satisfaction, service and loyalty – all of these can be direct benefits of leveraging chatbots.
Build your own bot in a matter of hours using BotCore – an Enterprise Chatbot Accelerator solution by Acuvate. Learn more about our approach to building chatbots for the retail industry.