With shelter-in-place orders still in effect across much of the U.S. and around the globe, retailers are in crisis mode.
As brands pivot to selling exclusively online, with limited curbside pickup options, anxious consumers are seeking more reassurance than ever that orders will arrive safely and on schedule. Volume is overwhelming, whether due to surging orders, reduced staffing levels, slower response times as employees adjust to working from home — or all of the above.
Faced with this challenging scenario, many retailers find themselves trying to balance a two-sided equation: keep employees safe, or take care of customers. Many brands are making trade-offs on both sides to stay afloat, an unsustainable proposition.
But there’s a way out of this either/or conundrum: automated support tools that exponentially enhance existing resources.
By harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to engage shoppers in one-to-one conversation, retailers can complement their existing customer support workforce while providing the immediacy consumers expect.
That’s because chatbots can:
- Address routine questions at scale in a time of rapid change. AI-powered conversational tools are ideal for answering straightforward questions about order status and physical store locations, which comprise about 70% of customer service interactions, according to Linc. Conditions such as the availability of curbside pickup, delivery timeframes, and store hours are changing day by day and region by region — information that can be difficult for human customer support staffers to stay abreast of without additional training, especially in remote working conditions. But the right up-to-the-minute solution can absorb and deliver new information immediately, making it an accurate and consistent resource for consumers.
- Provide 24/7/365 support on the touchpoints shoppers are using now. With brands cutting back on staffing, it can be hard to cover overnight and weekend shifts — but with consumers divorced from their 9-to-5 routines, round-the-clock support is more important than ever. The mobile devices that are most popular for messaging apps are especially important support touchpoints, given that shoppers are using them predominantly during the current pandemic: Mobile traffic in March was up 34% year-over-year, according to comScore, compared with a decline of 4% for desktop or laptop machines.