Study: Retailers see promise in AI
In a new survey, about 41% of 550 brands and marketers said customer service is the aspect of their operations that would benefit most from online support that used AI with live chat, self-support or automated response materials, according to a new white paper by artificial intelligence software company DeviceBits.
Meanwhile, 36.4% of those surveyed said sales functions would stand to benefit the most from integration with AI, while 34.1% said ordering and fulfillment processes could be the chief beneficiary.
Many retailers already do offer some online self-service or automated customer service capabilities, but the level of assistance available to users varied. About 41% said they promote assistance but don't measure its effectiveness. Another 27% said they do not promote but do offer assistance, and 9% said they don’t offer any online customer service assistance at all.
Clearly, retailers feel that AI can benefit many aspects of their operations. And if that's indeed the case, we are all in for a very interesting future of interacting with retailers and their robots.
Other recent studies, such as a Boston Retailer Partners survey last month, have noted that a large number of retailers are planning to invest in AI with overall customer experience improvements in mind. Another recent study from Linc and BrandGarage, suggested pretty much the same thing, allowing that an even larger percentage of retailers were on the hunt for AI customer care help.
Obviously retailers prioritize customer service and could use all the help technology has to offer. At the same time, there aren't many devoting resources to understanding how customers interact today with existing online customer service technology. The number of companies that either don't promote assistance for online customer service help or don't measure the effectiveness of it is not very encouraging.
That's a shame, because the white paper also noted that about 61.5% of 2,500 U.S. consumers surveyed separately said they would prefer to have their customer service resolved via automated response through self-service channels like web, mobile, chat and e-mail.
Some retailers are working with customer service chatbots and other features that should appeal to these customers, but they have to be careful not to make customer service an island of automation. That's where AI can come in, learning and adapting through customer interactions. But the technology will also need to be smart enough to know when to call on human assistance.
DeviceBIts is among the companies helping retailers integrate AI, along with companies like IBM and LivePerson, which have recently announced efforts to better integrate AI and customer service chatbots.