Why Voice and Chat Assistants Should Upgrade — Not Replace — Customer Support

As more consumers adopt voice assistants and chatbots, retailers need to pay close attention to how they incorporate these technologies into their business.

Customers now frequently expect instant responses from customer support teams, and strategic automation can help streamline the customer experience and prevent cart abandonment by responding to problems immediately.

“As consumers become more comfortable with the mechanisms of interacting with an AI-enabled device, more of the ‘commodity/everyday’ decisions will be left to artificial intelligence,” said Mark Taylor, head of customer engagement at Capgemini Invent, a global consulting group.

A recent Capgemini study of 12,000 consumers found that 76% reported quantifiable benefits from voice and chat initiatives. However, only 23% of the top 100 consumer products and retail organizations currently deploy a voice and/or chat assistant. This suggests an underutilized opportunity for retailers to upgrade their customer support experience, especially as mobile sales continue to rise.

Through a designated voice program for popular devices like Google Home or Amazon Echo, a retailer can capitalize on the growing segment of consumers who use voice technology during their shopping journey. This program could enable users to order directly through the voice assistant, or pull up product information for comparison; 74% of Capgemini respondents reported using voice tools for shopping research.

The results are also supportive of chat tools. Omnichannel technology company Radial conducted a survey and found that customers who interacted with live chat programs were 12% more satisfied, 14% more loyal, and 15% more likely to recommend the retailer. Still, it is important for retailers to also retain a strong human customer support team, particularly for more complicated queries.

Radial found that interacting with automated chat programs that offered no human element resulted in customers who were 8% less satisfied, 4% less loyal and 3% less likely to recommend the retailer. While bots can be very helpful at resolving common issues, more complicated problems can result in customers getting stuck in a conversational loop.

“The technology must be an accretive piece of the customer experience and not a barrier or hurdle that complicates the customer or agent delivery,” said Carey Stoker, SVP of customer care at Radial. “It is important to be transparent with the customer that they are engaging with a bot, as well as providing an easy way to connect with a live agent. Ensuring the customer is not ‘trapped’ with a bot goes a long way to ensuring a positive experience.”

Both Capgemini and Radial experts recommended utilizing automated assistants to provide help for common issues. This frees up customer service employees for more complex tasks, while allowing retailers to connect with the customer earlier in their shopping journey.

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