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How Live Chat Functions Can Re-Create the In-Store Sales Associate Experience

E-commerce offers consumers access to more products than might be available in-store, but in exchange, the shopper can miss out on the guidance of a sales associate. Through new technology by software platform Powerfront, retailers can offer a live chat feature for consumers while also empowering customer service on the backend to provide better service.

“Customers who still shop at brick-and-mortar stores do so because they enjoy the white glove experience and the personal engagement offered in physical storefronts,” said Hadar Paz, CEO and founder at Powerfront. “Unfortunately, this is often what’s missing when they shop on the same brand’s e-commerce site.”

Many retailers are now leveraging AI-powered chatbots to assist customers with simple requests. This frees up customer service agents for more complex problems. With Powerfront, there is an additional component: Customers are illustrated visually for agents within the platform, so that support staff can easily detect which shoppers are most in need of guidance.

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Using machine learning technology, the platform determines which consumers might be having trouble completing a task or which shoppers might benefit from related product recommendations. Color-coded avatars ensure immediate recognition by support staff, resulting in a faster response time; visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text alone.

The wealth of information available through e-commerce can prove overwhelming for consumers, which is why many turn to live chat functions for help. Whether asking about delivery details or refund policies, consumers who are able to access this information quickly are more likely to have a positive shopping experience and revisit the retailer, say experts. Automated chatbots are commonly used to handle these kinds of enquiries.

Powerfront’s platform, Inside, uses visual representation to make it easier for customer service agents to identify the consumers who most need assistance.
CREDIT: Powerfront

But consumer expectations of service have also risen; free fast shipping and tailored recommendations are becoming table stakes. By offering live text services that can guide customers to new and relevant items, brands can re-create the personalized service of a sales associate for the digital environment. This is particularly valuable for retailers who operate both online and offline and want to create a consistent customer experience across channels.

“Companies like Neiman Marcus and Gucci are no longer using chat just to quickly handle and resolve logistical inquiries. They’re using their chat operators to actively sell, upsell and [serve] clientele in real time,” said Paz. “These companies encourage their agents to foster a personal connection and take the time to get to know their customers, rather than attempting to rush to handle and then turn over [customers]. This results in higher-quality customer experiences, therefore not only boosting conversion but also brand affinity and retention.”

This is particularly important in a saturated retail market. Consumers who feel valued are more likely to show brand loyalty, which is why many retailers are beginning to roll out loyalty programs. Chat services like Powerfront can support these initiatives by helping customer support and identify frequent customers as soon as they arrive on an e-commerce channel. This allows for personalized service throughout the shopper journey.

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