Embrace non-linear customer experiences in retail with AI – Retail Customer Experience

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AI is reshaping the way retailers connect with shoppers. Conversational AI tools, like intelligent virtual agents, use natural language processing and machine learning to understand, process, and respond to customers in a natural, intuitive, and personalized way.


World’s Leading High-rise Marketplace

May 2, 2024 | by Matt Whitmer — chief revenue officer and senior vice president of marketing, Mosaicx

Gone are the days of traditional retail customer support. Historically, shoppers with questions on products or services would reach out on the phone or chatbot and get a series of automated questions (though this approach lingers on, keep reading to discover why it’s becoming a thing of the past). Such a linear, one-size-fits-all model falls short of today’s customers’ expectations — 80% feel the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.

Enter AI. AI is reshaping the way retailers connect with shoppers. Conversational AI tools, like intelligent virtual agents (IVAs), use natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) to understand, process, and respond to customers in a natural, intuitive, and personalized way. These tools also move customer journeys from linear to non-linear experiences because they connect seamlessly across communication channels and customer touch points.

With the help of IVAs, retailers can offer support that dynamically adapts to individual customer needs. Below are four ways AI enhances customer experiences to foster loyalty and enrich the overall customer experience.

Deliver personalized customer support

According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer Report, 73% of customers anticipate improved personalization with technological advancements. It’s no wonder, too—AI can offer highly personalized interactions by reviewing historical data from various sources, such as CRM systems, support tickets, and direct customer communications, and better understand shoppers’ intent and needs.

For example, AI can help retailers offer tailored discounts to close more sales. Traditionally, retailers sent discounts in a generalized manner, often based on broad factors such as seasonal changes, excess inventory, or promotional events aimed at driving sales across the board. AI can review customers’ purchase history or current cart and offer a personalized discount or a customized reminder to nudge them toward finalizing their purchase. AI-enhanced personalization can help boost sales, but more importantly, it fosters loyalty and value among customers, solidifying the retailer’s reputation as truly customer-centric.

Make proactive recommendations to customers

Similarly, AI can use aggregated customer data to recommend products or services based on customers’ purchases, website behavior, and previous customer support conversations. AI’s predictive capabilities can also identify frequent shopping cart abandonment patterns and respond proactively.

Imagine a customer checking out a new smartphone. AI can identify opportunities to suggest complementary products like protective cases or wireless earbuds. Or a virtual agent could reach out with a message offering a bundle discount for purchasing the smartphone and a case or earbuds.

Enhance multichannel support for connected customer journeys

Customers now have multiple ways to reach out for support, from social media, call centers, chatbots, email, and more. This diversity of options is a hallmark of non-linear customer support, allowing companies to meet shoppers exactly where they are in their journey.

However, the challenge arises in maintaining consistency across these varied channels. Despite the availability of these options, Salesforce reported that 56% of customers say they often must repeat information when they engage via new channels or are transferred to different agents. In addition, over half feel they’re talking to different companies rather than one cohesive company.

AI bridges these gaps by connecting past interactions across all channels and human agents. IVAs can use customers’ past conversations, bringing all the information into one place regardless of the touch point. That way, customers aren’t starting over from scratch. By connecting channels and customer touch points, businesses can help customers feel more connected to the brand, establishing a sense of loyalty because their experience is fluid.

Empower customers with 24/7 self-service support

Retailers can implement conversational AI technologies like IVAs to transform customer service into a 24/7 operation that embraces the non-linear customer experience. With self-service options, retailers are accessible at all points of the customer journey when human agents aren’t available, which offers several advantages.

For starters, by offering self-service support like automated FAQs, customers can find answers or complete tasks quickly on their own. IVAs help streamline self-service by using NLP to address customers’ questions and provide links directly to resources. Additionally, while IVAs can manage common questions, these technologies can also smoothly transition more complex issues to human agents whenever necessary.

Lastly, operating 24/7 is a strategic advantage for retailers as they expand into global markets. Being available ensures that customers from any time zone receive timely and consistent support and highlights the company’s dedication to customer-centricity.

AI is revolutionizing retail by transforming traditional customer support into personalized, non-linear experiences. The future of retail will significantly benefit from using AI to meet customers right where they are, with the kind of help they need when they need it. As AI reshapes the retail landscape, it promises a future where every customer interaction is a unique opportunity to build relationships and drive satisfaction, marking a new era of customer-centric retailing.

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