Photo: Tech Daily
The Customer Experience: Expectations Continue to Rise
We’ve all had those experiences – the poor, disjointed conversations with retailers where they really have no idea as to what’s going on, leaving us ever so frustrated by missing simple conveniences we’ve come to expect. Customer expectations have greatly evolved and the customer of 2019 and forward demands much more than ever before. And since they’re parting with their hard-earned money, it’s hard to argue against them. The bar has been set by the likes of Netflix and Amazon – allowing customers to achieve what they want in sometimes as little as one click – it’s only natural that customer expectations will continue to rise and attention span will continue to fall. Steve Desjarlais, CEO of Heyday.ai, notes that in addition to customer attention spans being ever so short, customers are expecting:
How Can Artificial Intelligence Better The Customer Experience?
There are a myriad of areas in which AI can support business functions and, in most cases, better it. From our list above, let’s think about availability for a moment. Customers shop online at all hours of the day, be it in the middle of the day or the middle of the night. Customers have different preferences in how they want to communicate with your business, some swear by picking up the phone and getting a live person on the line while others prefer to quickly initiate a chat box to conversate with a live agent. However, it can be challenging from a cost perspective to have customer service agents available 24/7/365. Regular chatbots are also pretty useful. But something with an artificially intelligent back-end can satisfy customers who prefer to avoid speaking with live agents and provide them meaningful recommendations, suggestions and support during their purchase journey. Being available when your customer wants to shop is crucial and, in this day and age, that’s essentially 24/7. And if you’re not available and they want it now, you can count on them going over to a competitor to get it.
Heyday’s position on Artificial Intelligence and outlook on the industry
Heyday is on the right track and is pushing forward on the conversational channel becoming the new storefront, as noted by Desjarlais at the Dx3 2019 presentation. Mobile is clearly playing a bigger role in retail however the advent of Facebook Messenger and the new capabilities it provides is opening a whole new playing field. It won’t be surprising to see similar chat capabilities from the likes of Instagram, iMessage and WhatsApp soon. Traditionally, brick and mortar and e-commerce have been looked at differently, but repeatedly we begin to realize that Steve is right – they need to be looked at together, holistically as one. It’s not about having an omnichannel strategy, it’s about being omnipresent.
Heyday + Decathlon: A Winning Combination
Decathlon is a French sporting goods retailer with over 1,500 stores, initially launching in Canada in 2018 which is only 1 of 49 countries they’re present in. They’ll be opening 4 stores in Canada this year, 1 in Ontario and 3 in Quebec and currently do not offer e-commerce in Canada. So how does a retailer without e-commerce deepen 1:1 relationships? Heyday’s AI technology. 3 milestones the duo have accomplished so far:
- Chat-Based Product Search
- Real-Time Stock Availability
- Automation of FAQ Creation
Alexandre Toulemonde, CTO of Decathlon Canada, notes that 29% of sales conversations are happening outside of regular sales hours. Guess what would happen if you aren’t available during these extended hours to converse with your customers? It also seems to be paying off for Decathlon with a conversation rate of 28% with customers using the Click and Collect option.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Expect Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to continue to take a larger role in supporting and delivering on customer expectations, churning through data in the background to provide the optimal response to your customer in real-time, regardless of what their query is. Expect other messenger platforms to provide similar offerings to Facebook’s service and at the same time, expect retailers to continue to ramp up investments in their tech stacks to deliver on the increasingly demanding customer of 2019 and forward
Thanks to the presenters:
Alexandre Toulemonde, CTO, Decathlon Canada
Steve Desjarlais, CEO, Heyday.ai