Retail

6 Ways You Can Use Conversational AI To Weather the Holiday Rush

With conversational AI, retail businesses can thrive during the holiday rush--and beyond.

Many businesses have started to prepare for the "Holiday Rush" that looms on the horizon. Finalizing contracts with vendors, monitoring supply chain logistics, getting products to stores and other physical locations, and onboarding new and seasonal employees must occur before Black Friday. 

Retail and logistics concerns are top priorities for decision-makers today. One missed shipment, one day with too few employees available to handle client requests, or one-to-many unsatisfactory customer experiences will have negative consequences with an enduring, unfortunate ripple effect.

While retail leaders often try to anticipate seasonal holiday cycles and rushes, using an approach that seemed effective years ago may not be the best approach today, tomorrow, and long into the future. In a global economy that serves populations who celebrate holidays throughout the year, a better strategy involves finding technological solutions that support human talent across the organization, the partners necessary for the company's success, and the calendars observed by customers throughout the world.

As customers, employees, and clients within the firm's supply chain embrace different calendars with varying deadlines, the best way for a firm to manage these diverse demands is to implement solutions that build bridges rather than obstacles. A top priority for businesses or organizations that seek long-term success includes implementing conversational AI.

Here are six ways that conversational AI will help your company long before Black Friday and continue to benefit your firm as you prepare for "Holiday Rushes" far into the future:

1. Conversational AI Enables 24/7 Support

The earlier innovations of printed shopping catalogs and toll-free telephone numbers have transitioned into an online environment with customers and supply partners always awake. Whether a multinational company that handles round-the-clock global transactions or a stand-alone business serving a particular community, the customers and clients that firms work with respond outside the traditional 9-to-5 window.

Holiday seasons accelerate these trends. Well before the holidays arrive, businesses coordinate orders, companies advertise goods and services, and customers anticipate purchases they plan to make. A conversational AI solution tailored to these needs will support call centers. By handling basic tasks, interpreting customer behavior practices, evaluating data for decision-makers, and transferring customers to human call-center agents for more complex situations, conversational AI allows employees to handle tasks efficiently.

A virtual AI assistant can handle complex questions with intuitive responses, and take pressure off customer assistants and sales associates. Time saved due to a well-developed conversational AI platform will allow team members to excel in their areas of expertise. This technology also gives them greater opportunities to enjoy the holidays themselves!

2. Conversational AI Personalizes the Shopping Experience

Customers who select gifts for friends and loved ones peruse catalogs and other retail sources. Sometimes, they may not know what to purchase. Often, they have questions about retail products available and the logistics of getting them to the preferred destination. 

An instance of conversational AI aligned with your business or organization’s products and services will provide fast and intuitive answers. This technology can link to product reviews, share current inventory levels, suggest suitable alternatives, send information to a mobile phone or email account, and connect clients with representatives if necessary.

By creating an efficient, customer-focused, and personalized shopping experience, conversational AI allows employees to handle more complex or urgent client interactions while promoting a culture that builds brand loyalty. Managers want their employees to be highly-qualified and valuable ambassadors for the firm. Building upon the talent of this human resource, conversational AI helps facilitate and satisfy interactions about the items, specifications, and services a customer seeks. 

3. Conversational AI Tracks Products and Packages Seamlessly

From the moment of purchase or completing a successful order, the relationship between the customer and the firm reaches a new level. The customer found the firm, considered goods or services it offers worth acquiring, and entered into a transaction. When considering the items available through retail and the logistics involved in delivering them, conversational AI can provide a seamless role for all parties to track products and packages.

Companies expect items to reach their stores or warehouses so they can be sold. Customers who purchase these items expect packages to arrive on a specific date at a preferred location, regardless of when they initiated the order. Any disruptions in the supply chain or delivery process will affect this relationship negatively.

Conversational AI facilitates seamless packing, shipping, and tracking notifications as products travel to the customer's desired destination. A virtual AI assistant keeps customers in the loop at the level they prefer -- whether that includes regular status updates sent to them or the ability to track them online when interested -- and allows your customer service representatives to anticipate delays and redress the situation as appropriate. 

4. Conversational AI Facilitates Inventory Management

Products move fast, and the days of tracking progress on paper and traditional forms have ended. A conversational AI solution will manage inventory by tracking items in an order, those in stock, those needing reordered, those shipped and returned, and timelines for future transactions to be completed. 

Customers want an item when they are motivated to purchase it. During the holiday season, this impulse increases, along with their expectations that the item purchased today will appear on the doorstep at a convenient time. If an item is out-of-stock or otherwise unavailable, customers will look elsewhere. If insufficient inventory becomes commonplace rather than rare, they may never return.

Conversational AI helps to manage inventory counts, alerting all parties to an item's availability and location based on the parameters established by the firm. Company officials can anticipate demand and work with their suppliers well before the holiday uptick. 

5. Conversational AI Improves Your Demand Forecasting

Another excellent benefit of conversational AI that lasts well beyond the holiday season is that it can also analyze your interactions with customers and store this data to be used in demand forecasting. If customers frequently request a certain product or express interest in something that’s out of stock or unavailable, this data can be used in future forecasts. As a result, companies can alter their inventory or their product line to meet customer needs–now and in the future. 

6. Conversational AI Helps You Locate Talented Personnel

To meet the demands of busier times, companies often need to hire, onboard, and train cohorts of employees rapidly. Conversational AI has great potential to streamline many of the processes a personnel or human resource office handles. Some of these functions are rote and repetitive: tracking applicants, linking ads for position vacancies, and handling inquiries from interested parties can be managed by a virtual AI assistant.

As an interested party becomes an applicant, the technology can serve as an intermediary that answers basic questions about the firm, its culture, work performance expectations, and the application process. As individuals submit applications, the virtual AI assistant helps with screening, reference checking, background reviews, and similar functions while keeping the applicant aware of the search process. If a decision is made to offer an interview, the conversational AI can reach the prospect much faster than a letter in the mail.

New hires benefit from conversational AI, too. Technology-mediated resources may play a pivotal role in onboarding, educating about job responsibilities and benefits, and delivering and assessing the completion of training materials. Taking all of these processes to the next level, the personnel department's virtual AI assistant can also address future talent shortages, evaluate prospects, and develop an ongoing interest in those seeking employment.

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'Tis the Season for Conversational AI

With the holidays on the horizon, consider the benefits of adopting conversational AI to support your business. Select uniquely-tailored conversational AI solutions that offer:

  • Year-round support
  • Find and train the best human talent
  • Personalize transactions
  • Track transactions seamlessly
  • Assure sufficient inventory
  • Fast to implement

Accelerate and elevate human achievement within your firm, across your supply chain, and among your customer base. Long before the holiday rush approaches, the packages arrive, and gift-wrapping occurs, give yourself a present that will bring many happy memories -- and returns -- for years to come. 

If you’re interested in learning more about conversational AI solutions for retail and logistics, sign up for a demo with one of our specialists! We have pre-built retail solutions in our platform to help you develop your own AI virtual assistant quickly and easily, just in time for the holiday season!  

 

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