The Role of Chatbots in Customer Retail Experience Over the Next Ten Years
Adrian Benic VP of Product, Infobip
Computer systems performing tasks normally untaken by humans (Artificial Intelligence) and computer generated images superimposed onto real world surroundings (Augmented Reality) are transforming the world around us. They are being implemented across almost every industry and are set to revolutionize the retail sector on an unprecedented scale over the next ten years. However, the integration of AI and AR technology will happen gradually because it is essential to consolidate the existing customer engagement process, rather than replacing it overnight. This is a process that, if rushed, will only diminish customer experience in the long run.
Adoption Will Not Happen Overnight
When it comes to customer experience in retail, we are already starting to see aspects of customer engagement being automated through the use of chatbots. In theory, AI chatbots should lead to an improvement in customer engagement because they make the overall experience more personal. This is one of the main reasons why chatbots have been one of the most talked about messaging developments in the past couple of years.
When it comes to adoption, we are seeing retail brands weigh up their priorities when it comes to customer experience – whether they want to rely on innovative yet potentially unreliable technology, or stick to what they know, but at a cost. Retail brands willing to adopt AI solutions such as chatbots will certainly see benefits, such as cost savings due to the larger engagement capacity, and also the opportunity to become more relevant to the customer over time. We have already seen chatbots introduced in the financial sector to handle the day-to-day enquiries of retail banks and there is every reason to believe they can be implemented in the wider retail sector.
Part of The Bigger Picture
Chatbots are synonymous with omnichannel platforms and they work best when used as part of the overall process, rather than a standalone solution. For example, bots can bring better operational efficiencies when used for booking appointments, checking store opening hours and other basic customer requests. Also, bots allow brands to provide cohesive, consistent customer service due to responses being automated and controlled. Subsequently, it is the way in which chatbots fit into the broader model of improved customer experience that make them more attractive to retailers.
However, as this technology is still in development, many retail brands need to consider whether the benefits outweigh the potential for computer errors and mistakes, which could in turn affect the customer’s experience and loyalty to the brand. The underlying technology of a chatbot is fundamentally based on probabilities. Therefore, factors such as the amount of mistakes a company is willing to allow a chatbot to make in customer interaction is instrumental in how fast they will be adopted. It is also important that brands are transparent by making customers aware when they are talking to a bot, rather than real person. Customers need to have the option to get in touch with a real person if they request it, or have more complex issues to discuss.
Over the next ten years, we are likely to see bots gain wide use, as the technology progresses and becomes much more sophisticated. Driven by the advances in machine learning and natural language processing, these bots will be able to orchestrate human-like responses and processes which, when perfected, will have huge potential to improve customer communication, operational efficiencies, satisfaction, and engagement in the retail industry.
Overall, the question retailers need to ask themselves is, do they think chatbots are appropriate for their customers and for their brand? If they are, then measures should be put in place to make the transition of implementing them into their existing platform as seamless as possible. However, even if retailers decide they are not appropriate, brands still need to keep on top of the latest technologies in their industry so they are at least aware of what the future might look like. Essentially, knowledge is power and is the only thing that can equip you for the evolution of the retail experience in the next ten years.
Mr. Adrian Benic Vice President of Products, has been with Infobip for nine years, leading the growth of the company’s product portfolio. His VP role includes coaching and managing Product Owners to always meet and exceed the expectations of Infobip’s 250 000 + business accounts. He is also supervising integration and connectivity teams and carries a significant role in client support.
In the earlier years of his career, as Infobip’s Head of Support, Adrian’s dedication and professionalism along with superior problem solving skills quickly grew to become an instrumental asset for the company’s expansion.
His agile leadership style and entrepreneurial vision perpetually encouraging innovation and new ideas has built the dynamic work environment at Infobip. A work place fueled by professional growth where team efforts along with individual success always add value to the company’s clients.