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Gear Up for the Holiday Season 2018 with AI-based E-commerce Support

Looks like the e-commerce cash registers are going to jingle all the way through the holiday season thanks to more customers, more orders, and more revenue! With Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Cyber Sunday, Thanksgiving, Cyber Saturday, and Christmas, these shopping days are expected to account for 40 percent of all online revenue for the shopping season globally – Ho! Ho! Ho! Each year, more and more people are getting aboard the online shopping train and online stores should be prepping to be inundated with orders. If they aren't, they could be facing a heap of backlash. Read on.


 The Boggling Impact of Customer Service on E-commerce

  1. According to a recent Shopify report, customer service is the second most impacting holiday e-commerce concern at 74.5%. High ad spends (80.4%), maintaining optimum inventory (72.5%), seamless shipping & fulfillment (64.7%), and handling returns (56.9%) are the other major worry-areas for e-tailers this season.

Now one might ask how a few irate or unhappy customers matters in the big scheme of things? Here’s a quick roundup:

  • Good news travels, but bad news travels faster. A Zendesk research report reveals that 54% shared bad experiences with more than five people as compared to 33% who shared their good experiences with more than five people.
  • Excellence in customer service takes priority – 42% of B2C customers purchased more after a good customer service experience while 52% of B2C customers stopped buying after a bad customer service interaction!
  • Social media makes it easy to share e-commerce customer service experiences – 45% share bad customer service experiences and 30% share good customer service experiences.
  • Reviews have serious impact – A majority of buying decisions are reviews-based and bad reviews turn 86% of people off the purchase while great reviews sway 90% of shoppers into buying immediately.

In the noisy, competitive e-commerce universe, losing a customer is like misplacing the winning lottery ticket! It’s 3X harder to win a new customer than to retain an existing one.

Artificial Intelligence (a.k.a. AI) Streamlines the Holiday-Season-Online-Shopping-Hour

With the holiday season rush on, businesses cannot afford to have consumers feeling misunderstood. Here is where self-service rooted in AI plugs in:

  • Real-time customer understanding
  • Positive engagement
  • Increased revenue
  • Personalized product recommendations
  • 24/7 assistance (even when agents aren’t available)

With a plethora of options available, 53% of adults are likely to drop their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.

AI-enabled agents can help retailers:

  • Process more work (volume and complexity) with fewer resources (people, time, and money)
  • Assist multiple customers at the same time
  • Answer the same questions (again and again) with accuracy and precision

Other Popular AI-based Techniques that Businesses Can Cash In On

Chatbots have been the popular AI-based customer support that people have warmed up to in the past couple of years. But, there are other artificial intelligence algorithms that provide personal recommendations (save you from hours of crazy browsing) to find just what you’re looking for. AI technology can suggest complementary products even better than your favorite aunt.

Let’s take a quick look at how businesses can use AI-based techniques to improve customer service and manage the holiday season traffic.

1. Ticket Resolution (a.k.a. Deflection)

During the holiday season, when the number of chats and queries (especially repetitive ones) go through the roof, it also becomes the season when delays drive customers away. The best service is no service, and as a business, the goal should be to serve customers without creating a ticket at all.

You can achieve that with deflection tools – when a customer is about to submit a question or issue, AI can recognize the question (as closely in context and language as possible) and suggest an answer from your content resources, enabling customers to self-discover the right answer quickly, leading to a speedy reduction in ticket volume.

2. Intelligent Process Automation (AI + Robotic Process Automation = IPA)

AI services that use RPA can resolve the top tickets that involve any process that requires agent action. These processes are ones like order tracking, cancellation requests, refunds, shipping address change, credit card update, etc. All of these require agents to access other systems like CRM, Order Processing, and Supply Chain. But with the combination of RPA and AI’s automated response, you can begin to resolve a high volume of tickets with or without touching an agent at all.

3. Smart Routing using AI

E-commerce support agents have a hard time during the holiday season and the enormous queue makes it difficult to personalize interactions or adjust to changes in demand. AI-powered solutions like Automated Triage can understand the context of a new support ticket and can fire off a response to the customer using an email template/macro. In other cases, smart routing leverages data, intent, and context to prioritize and connect the right communication with the right resource – simply put, it categorizes the customer data to understand the type of information required and routes into the right place in much less time than humans can.

What makes smart routing remarkable is that it has the bandwidth to flag by importance, sentiment, priority, customer tier, and dynamically connect each interaction, seamlessly over any channel. This places every customer interaction in a universal queue based on business environment and puts existing resources to work on top-priority interactions to drive business outcomes.

4. AI to handle huge volumes of Voice Searches

Optimizing your site’s content for voice search queries is a good way to manage the competition this season. Last year about 25 percent of queries on the Google mobile app and Android devices were by voice, and this year, given the explosion of zero-UI voice-activated devices making their way into homes, it is likely to increase.

Voice searches are more likely to be from mobile consumers looking for simple answers. What better friend could there be than AI to help e-commerce businesses curate content to answer these queries (on the fly – as they come) with the intent of a quick turnaround and the offer of instant gratification to the customer.

5. Predictive Sentiment Analysis

Imagine if agents were to try and guess customers’ feelings and respond likewise? Who has the time? And the effort? Especially amidst the shopping chaos?

AI can deliver personalized shopping experiences to consumers leveraging additional insights into how a customer really feels about their purchase. It uses sentiment analysis to analyze queries, emails, chats, social media posts, etc. and then when customers have a specific issue with your product, it helps to take a more predictive, intelligent, focused action, winning the customers over with a proactive approach.

A solid customer service strategy will move even the most doubtful shopper straight to your payment page. With a reputation for providing excellent customer service throughout the year, chances are high that you’ll be the first stop when it comes to holiday gifts for the family. There are no signs of online sales slowing down this year and with AI-based e-commerce support in your business arsenal, just sit back and see the proverbial cash registers ring away!

If you're interested in a free proof-of-concept, just schedule a quick call with us. We'd be happy to show you first-hand how AI can make all the difference for your business, beginning in as little as 30 days.

Topics: Artificial Intelligence, AnswerIQ, automation, nlp, self assist, agent assist, knowledge base, agent response, ticket prioritization, zero contact resolution

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