From Crisis Mode to Scaling Mode: What AI Can Do for Your Customer Service Team
After years of steady growth, COVID-19 has massively accelerated e-commerce penetration. According to an eMarketer report, U.S. e-commerce sales will jump by 18 percent this year due to the impact of the pandemic. This increase in sales has obviously been a relief for retailers, but it’s also brought with it something less profitable and more tricky to navigate: a peak in customer service inquiries.
How COVID-19 Has Affected Customer Service Teams
The unexpected surge in demand was coupled with the logistical uncertainties that come with fulfilling and delivering orders during a pandemic. Many companies weren’t equipped to deal with this perfect storm, and orders were taking much longer than usual to be delivered or being missed altogether.
A study conducted in March analyzed roughly 1 million customer service calls. The authors concluded that “issues related to the pandemic dramatically increased the level of customer emotion and anxiety in service calls, making a job that's hard for reps on a normal day far more challenging.”
Why is This a Major Problem for Retailers?
The spike in complaints and queries leaves your staff stressed and unable to deliver an outstanding experience — which in turn negatively affects your ability to retain customers. Given that most people fueling your online growth right now are new visitors who are also new to e-commerce, the stakes are even higher. You have an unprecedented opportunity to make loyal lifetime customers out of them, but you only get one shot.
The good news is that there's help available, and it comes in the form of artificial intelligence (AI).
How Can Retailers Leverage Customer Service Chatbots?
Chatbots are your front line. They're the first interplay between your company and its customers. And they can make your and your staff’s lives so much easier.
Benefit No. 1:
Automation takes the pressure off your team. Not every inquiry needs a human touch. Many are repetitive and require simple answers. Good chatbot solutions can handle these common requests with ease, leaving your precious human resources free to attend to more pressing matters.
Benefit No. 2:
Chatbots provide your customers with immediate satisfaction, 24/7. No matter the number of questions or complaints that roll in, the technology can answer in a flash, meaning customers aren’t left waiting, stewing, getting angry, and plotting to take down your company in a Twitter firestorm.
Benefit No. 3:
Smart chatbots help sell more. Plain and simple.
By having a chatbot proactively ask sales questions, it's able to collect information and build in-depth customer profiles. From there it can make product recommendations that sell on the spot, or hand-off qualified leads to your sales team to help them convert more transactions.
How a Chatbot Helped amika Accelerate its Shift to E-Commerce
The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest experiment any of us have been a part of. But experiments yield results, and one thing we’re learning from this one is that AI-driven chatbots can help with the deluge, and turn staff stress and logistical headaches into happier customers and increased revenue.
amika, a Brooklyn-based haircare company, is one example of this type of success. Immediately after implementing an AI chatbot, it saw its most critical key performance indicators drastically improve. Within three months, amika was reporting a 90 percent customer satisfaction rate and a 31 percent increase in total e-commerce revenue, both of which it credited directly to its AI chatbot solution.
Imagine what a similar solution could do for you.
Lucie Loubet is a marketing director at Automat, a conversational customer engagement platform that helps retailers sell online.