Retail and e-commerce customers are already used to chatbots answering simple questions and providing basic product recommendations. But conversational AI can do much more than that as virtual agents go far beyond answering FAQ. They can collect data from the customers (e.g., order number), communicate with external systems (like delivery tracking system) to provide customer-specific information (“Your order was sent today, and should arrive tomorrow between 9 and 12”), and let the customer make changes (“I won’t be at home tomorrow, can you reschedule for the next day?”). So instead of just providing information, they can actually provide services. Let’s take a look at how virtual agents can help with different processes in your e-commerce contact center.
A good starting point for introducing virtual agents to your contact center is replacing the traditional IVR (for returns, press 3…) with smart routing depending on the customer utterance. So if a customer says, “I want to change my delivery address,” the virtual agent will either serve their request or route the call to a live agent with the right skillset. This seemingly small implementation takes customer experience to another level and saves your team a lot of time on rerouting calls.
Additionally, virtual agents can authenticate customers based on, e.g., the number they’re calling from, to provide personalized answers and services.
Virtual agents can smoothly answer common questions, as they can extract and understand customer intent from speech. And they are able to do it at any point of the conversation, so for example, halfway through registering a return, a customer asks, “Actually, are exchanges possible?” and the virtual agent can appropriately react and, if necessary, return to where the conversation left off. By using conversational AI to answer common questions, you make sure that the customer will get the same, right answer every time.
With tools that let you build virtual agents on your own, like Talkie, another benefit is that you can quickly add new messages to the conversation flow. Often you can make those changes with a few clicks in the app. For example, with ever-changing restrictions during the pandemic, you can quickly add a message regarding delivery delays or new opening hours.
Depending on what you’re selling and what customers need to do to buy from you, virtual agents can handle different order management requests, with the most common being: collecting, changing, and canceling orders, registering returns, and making changes to shipping and billing information. But virtual agents can also proactively reach customers with reminders to order again or cross-selling products based on previous purchases. All that can be done with minimal effort from customers, as they have a conversation similar to what they would have with a real sales assistant. Virtual agents can send confirmations via text or email for a better customer experience, so customers don’t need to wonder if everything was processed correctly.
As mentioned before, virtual agents can answer questions like, “What types of delivery do you offer?”, “Do you ship internationally?”, “How much is shipping?” But they can also provide services, like parcel tracking. It can all be done via a voice interface, which is often more accessible to users with lower computer literacy skills and simply more convenient. For example, a customer can safely call from their car and ask if their parcel has been delivered to a pick-up point.
To learn more about how virtual agents can help with parcel tracking read our case study with Apaczka.
Some tasks are daunting and even unpleasant for live agents, like calling customers to ask them to settle a late payment. But they are perfect for virtual agents, as they won’t feel the awkwardness and won’t mind doing the same thing over and over again. You can plan the call schedule for different days of the week and times of day to ensure that the virtual agent will reach the customer. You can also be proactive and schedule outgoing calls to remind customers about upcoming payments.
If you run a reward program or often gift cards, a lot of the calls about them are repeated, making this process a perfect candidate for automation. Virtual agents can authenticate callers, check available credit, change personal info, or reset passwords and pin codes. Cost-effective for your call center and easy for customers who can make a quick call while browsing your store.
If you strategically measure customer experience, virtual agents can open another feedback channel for you. In addition to running a satisfaction survey at the end of a conversation, virtual agents can call customers at any chosen time and talk to them about their experience. It’s easier to speak than type, so if customers agree to give you their time, you have a higher chance of knowing if they are happy or not and learning what impacted their opinion.
From answering simple questions to processing complex requests, retail and e-commerce businesses looking to automate live agent transactions can use the power of conversational AI. If you want to see how virtual agents can support your business, book our experts here for a demo.
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