Why chatbots should be a critical part of your retail customer service offering

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If you, like us, did a lot of your Christmas shopping online last year, you no doubt experienced a wide range of customer service experiences. Some will have been seamless and others less so. In a hyper-competitive market, your customers are far more likely to return to a business that had a strong customer service experience. 

A lot gets made of the perceived damage a poor chatbot experience can create for your customers, and of course, nobody wants that. But it shouldn’t be underestimated how frustrating it can be to be sat in a queue of unknown length waiting to be told the same information that a chatbot could have told you immediately. If you take due care and attention when creating your chatbot, you can negate a lot of the risks and provide a more proactive customer experience. 

One such retail experience we came across recently had us sitting in a queue for over half an hour just to ask a straight forward question about a discount code. The conversation with the agent lasted 2 minutes and was solved in one sentence – this is a prime example of a conversation that could be automated by a chatbot. Even if the chatbot couldn’t solve this issue, a user would appreciate the attempt rather than simply sitting and waiting. By engaging the user with a chatbot, you can at the very least fill the dead-time of queuing with a conversation, exploring the user’s needs. 

There are lots of amazing ways a chatbot could be put to use in a retail business, here are a few of our most popular ones: 

  • Answer all your common FAQs quickly – let your bot handle the high volume/low value queries so your agents don’t have to. 
  • Check order status – integrate with your sales platform to check order status using the user’s unique order number. 
  • Track or change your delivery day – using your courier’s API and tracking details 
  • Allow users to self-serve – authenticated users can update their personal details, add/remove items from their basket, get access to discounts etc. 
  • Recommend and promote products – provide diagnostic tools (like our L’Oreal Gifting bot) to inspire your customers to purchase the latest products. 
  • Proactive marketing opportunities – after a customer has completed a purchase, re-engage with them on your chatbot to gather feedback or promote follow-on products etc. 

As well as the benefits to your customers, there are also real businesses benefits to using a chatbot as the first point of contact are many, some of the most crucial are as follows: 

  • 24/7 ‘always-on’ solution – Don’t leave your customers waiting hours to hear back from you. See if you can solve their problem using the chatbot.
  • Host 1000s of concurrent conversations – No need to pay for costly agents when you have a busy period. Your chatbot can handle all the incoming traffic without needing to scale. 
  • Reduce number of chats to your live agents – By tackling the simple questions with your chatbot, you reduce the queries for the agents, thus reducing the queue times. This also means your agents will be focussing on more complex queries. 
  • Omni-channel – your bot can operate for your business across multiple channels e.g. Whatsapp, Messenger, Web 
  • Gather user data – Your chatbot gives you a different type of analytical data allowing you to spot themes and trends quickly or even highlight problems with your products sooner.

When you consider the cost of implementing a live-agent team and scaling, the ROI for a chatbot is significantly more cost-effective. Whilst the initial outlay is not insignificant, the cost for maintaining these solutions is extremely lightweight when compared to human counterparts. 

Given the way chatbot technology is evolving, retail businesses that don’t adopt this technology soon will see themselves losing customers and sales to those who have implemented a clear strategy to use chatbots in the right way.

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Ready to kickstart your chatbot journey?