We seek customer delight, a rarity in our fast-paced world. In conventional retail, the customer journey is within the store. A store's pull factors are the products it offers, the ambience it has, and the services extended by the staff manning it. As Customers we like to be treated as “VIP's” and justifiably so. A momentary delay intending to our needs puts us off from lingering further and we move on to the next store. Similarly in an online retail, the failure to authenticate or a delay in payments process can decide whether a sale goes through or not. As per VISA Transaction Data, the present online retail cart abandonment is at 58% primarily due to the above two processes alone. It is a reality that 80% of inbound sales queries can be handled by bots effectively. The bots can handle all FAQ interactions thereby enabling sales agents to focus on more complex and critical query resolutions.
With Conversational Artificial Intelligence in retail, the customer truly is the VIP with a host of AI minions at their service. Through WhatsApp, messenger, SMS, apple chat and similar platforms, any retailer can engage with their customers throughout the sale journey. Engaged customers are the real buyers in online retail space. Empowered with information such as reviews, recommendations, assured secure payment channels, loyalty benefits, last mile service delivery throughout their purchase decision making secures customer loyalty. Furthermore, they are most likely to recommend the store amongst their social circles that draw more such customers towards your business. And one more thing, the business is open 24/7 for your customers.
As a customer, one looks forward to being welcomed and serviced personally inside the physical store whether in buying a product or availing a service. The transaction is a success if this interaction generates an invoice at the store in the form of a sale. To accomplish this the store needs to draw the customer inside which means the store requires ambience, its location accessible, the product or service offering should be available. All within the given space within a finite period of working hours. The staff are to be trained consistently to keep the store operational, address dynamic customer queries, keep inventory moving, ensure the displays are in order, billing queues managed, with packaging and returns handled in finesse. After checking these boxes, the store can hope to survive at their customers benevolence.
- Conversational Artificial Intelligence (CAI) has enabled retail wherein the customer can demand the best of service until they are truly elated by their Customer Experience (CX). It truly delivers customers a delightful Customer Experience (CX) throughout their sales Journey. A customer calls in the toll-free number or pings a query on your website or the store app.
- The QUEUE HANDLER BOT recognizes whether sales queue is free and offers to re-route the conversation to your customer's preferred Message Platform to be assisted by a WELCOME BOT. This bot is programmed with Natural Language Processing (NLP) and initiates the conversation with the customer. This transition can be activated within less than 30 secs of the inbound inquiry.
- The WELCOME BOT verifies whether the customer is a new or an existing one and addresses the customer accordingly. These bots are enabled with millions of conversational and situational threads that drive live meaningful conversations. The conversation's objective is steered towards understanding of the customer's buying intent.
- Once the intent is established, the conversation is transitioned to a PRODUCT SPECIALIST BOT and carry the conversational thread deeper. Specialist bots are enabled to offer products information catalogues, pricing detail, stock availability and even talk about customer's prior purchases from the store to lively engage with the customer without latency. The enterprise database comes into play through API's depending on the data request by the specialist bots.
- The customer can pick and choose the products of their interest at their own pace. On confirmation of the product choices, the conversation can be further enhanced with the introduction of PROMO BOTS. The PROMO BOTS offer customers, the store's best sellers, discounts on offer, product reviews, go with accessories as a potential up sell agents. The objective is to lead the customer to arrive at buying decisions through informed choices.
- A LOYALTY BOT can join this party conversation. The LOYALTY BOTS are programmed to setup a loyalty account for new customers on their purchases. As for an existing customer, the loyalty bot adds purchase points to the customer loyalty account or offset accumulated points against current bill via cash discounts. Following which the conversation can be transitioned to billing.
- The BILLING OR CASHIER BOT takes over to ensure secure transaction payments are affected. Through a plethora of payment gateways and e-wallet payments the money transactions can be carried out securely. The necessity to re-authenticate for payment processing are avoided since the entire engagement is on data encrypted secure messaging platforms unique to the customer that is pre-authenticated. Thus, the payments can be authorized via biometric authentication linked to the customer's e-wallet. On conclusion of payment transactions, the invoice is messaged, and the LOGISTICS BOT can take over.
- The LOGISTICS BOT reads the invoice, confirms with the customer the product delivery location and time window for the order delivery including route map confirmation based on map location feed. Upon this confirmation, the logistics bot rolls out the information to the last mile delivery teams for the final dispatch. A follow-up customer service bot can also be deployed to ensure that customer has received the goods in order and service feedback can be obtained for improvement.
All these transitions are managed by an intelligent AI conversation manager engine. This engine not only deploys, monitors interactions between the customer and the bots, but also analyses their performances based on the successful engagement metrics such as Meaningful Conversational Scores. This conversation manager also provides real time inputs that aid the retail operations as to when human intervention is required to take over from the bots to handle critical queries during the conversation. The AI to human transition and vice versa is inbuilt based on progressive understanding algorithms that read the conversation via the NLP programming. Service standardization and scalability via CAI is a given. Effective customer engagement through enhancing online experience is the blue dot to be achieved to ensure online sales growth consistently. With online retail set to increase by 22% in the region by 2023 within the e-commerce market space of over USD 65 billion, online retailers need to rethink their service delivery standardization by offering exceptional customer experience. CAI in online retail will become the main stay to deliver that expectation.