6 Ways Bots Can Help Retailers Staff Their Contact Centers This Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us, and retailers have geared up for the rush. The seasonal staff is hired and the inventory is stocked. But what about those employees working behind the scenes in the contact center? Have they been set up for success in the holiday rush? One terrible way to kill the holiday spirit (and customer loyalty) is with poor customer service. When implemented well, bots can help with this. Here are six ways they can support retail call centers.

Handle simple questions and FAQs

Today’s consumers rely heavily on their phones while shopping and have instant access to more information than ever before. In fact, when shopping for new appliances, 97% of people compare prices and explore different features on their phones. Not only are bots perfectly equipped to answer frequently asked questions immediately, they can also make recommendations to help guide consumers through the shopping experience. Additionally, bots can mitigate confusion and frustration for consumers by concisely answering any technical or hard-to-find questions that arise along the way. With bots handling the simple-to-answer questions, contact center personnel are free to help customers with more complicated inquiries.

Process simple payment procedures

Online holiday purchases are expected to exceed in-store sales this year — but this doesn’t mean online shopping is any less dizzying. Instead of navigating long lines and clipping coupons, consumers must keep track of multiple tabs and promo codes. Integrating payment bots streamlines the process of online shopping. They reduce the number of steps required to complete a purchase, giving consumers the ability to click, pay, and go. We’ve already seen this with PayPal’s bot, which processes payments happening in Slack and Facebook Messenger. Retailers can do the same. These bots also give agents the ability to turn customer service interactions over to a bot when it comes time to handle payment and billing, freeing the agent to take care of more complex tasks.

Assist multiple customers at the same time

Customer service agents are flooded with inbounds, especially during the holidays. Messaging with consumers gives representatives the ability to facilitate a greater volume of conversations, compared to addressing consumer inquiries one call at a time. Chatbots can further improve customer service messaging by handling many simple procedures. They can collect any basic information customer service representatives need from multiple consumers at once, cutting down on wait times and increasing agent efficiency. This is key during the holiday rush. Bots ultimately improve customer satisfaction as well, since most consumers would rather message than sit on hold with a customer service representative.

Route customers to the appropriate sales associate

Today’s consumers expect both speed and convenience, but the process of calling customer service is seldom quick or efficient. With call center volumes expected to remain constant or increase in the next two years, the waiting game is far from over. Voice and chatbots can change this. Bots can act as organizational tools for companies to ensure consumers are directed to the right representative in a timely manner, and customer service interactions remain productive. Too often, customers are handed off from agent to agent before finally being connected to the proper representative. However, bots can be used to transfer customers to the right department from the start. This eliminates the need for customers to be rerouted multiple times, improving the quality of customer service exchanges overall.

Assist customer service agents behind the scenes

Not all chatbots are customer-facing. Many are employed to assist customer service agents directly, without consumers seeing. In fact, chatbots are predicted to manage 85% of customer relationships with businesses. “Agent-assist bots” can help the customer service representative by presenting suggested responses, powered by AI. Think Google’s autofill, but for agents. Much like voice and chatbots, bots designed specifically for customer service representatives can streamline conversations and increase agent productivity levels. During the holiday shopping rush in particular, this kind of research and organizational assistance is key.

Upsell to customers based on preference as they buy gifts online

Holiday ecommerce sales are expected to climb 13.8% this year to $100 billion. This number will increase with the use of bots. By storing customers’ search and order histories, bots can upsell to customers and make recommendations based on what they’ve browsed or purchased in the past. For example, if a consumer adds wrapping paper to their cart, a bot could use that data to suggest they purchase gift boxes or tape as well. These bots increase sales for retailers and, for customers, add both convenience and a personal touch to the shopping experience.

This holiday season, bots, when used correctly, can be a highly cost-effective solution for businesses, and drive online sales. For consumers and customer service representatives, bots can relieve stress and quicken interactions by automating certain aspects of the customer service process. Bots can help take some of the hassle out of holiday shopping for everyone involved, creating more time for holiday cheer.

Rurik Bradbury is Global Head of Research for LivePerson

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