holiday 2017 chatbot

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Holiday 2017 chatbot

It’s that time of year again, with retailers investing heavily in holiday campaigns, merchandise, and staffing, and shoppers everywhere are investing time, energy, and savings in holiday cheer. The upcoming weeks between Black Friday and January sales provide an annual stress test, not only to a retailer’s processes and systems but more importantly, to their customers’ patience.

Over the years, we’ve found five key customer questions that can make or break the holiday experience:

  1. I need gift inspiration! Getting ideas for the perfect gifts can be overwhelming. Gift givers are bombarded with three months of ads, emails, TV, and of course, social media. For a busy shopper or that last-minute Santa, browsing even well-curated product assortments can simply be too much work
  2. Do you have this in stock? Customers looking for specific or high demand items will spend a lot of time searching for that certain product. Store associates can guide your customer and make suggestions for similar items, especially if something is out of stock. Can your online or mobile presence do the same?
  3. Can anybody help me with this product? Even with extra holiday staff, in-store customers still have trouble finding someone knowledgeable about product information. Online, this translates to quicker abandonment and lost sales
  4. Where’s my order? A large omnichannel retailer noted that 70% of calls and emails into their customer service center were order status inquiries. High call volumes mean increased cost and staffing for you and increased wait times and frustration for your customers
  5. How can I return this item? Although we hate to admit it, people do return gifts. Every retailer’s return policy is different, and they often set new ones for holiday. A hidden or complicated return policy could send your shopper looking straight to your competitor’s site next time they shop

So, can a chatbot help?

The short answer is yes! (Granted, we may be biased.) A holiday 2017 chatbot occupies a space in between a website, a call center, and a physical location, nicely augmenting each of them.

It likely has better ROI than a call center, offers more empathy than a mobile app or website, and is far easier to get to than a physical store. During holiday, chatbots can offer the best of all worlds, complementing all channels: reducing strain on call center and store teams, while improving overall brand satisfaction.

If you haven’t interacted with chatbots yet, their functionality may not seem too different than the campaigns, features, and functionality you’ve already implemented in your stores and on your site.

But to your customer, a holiday 2017 chatbot appears as a single brand interface that meets many of her needs — offering all the functions you’ve deployed across multiple channels, and all in one place. Just like a conversation, the well-designed chatbot infers your customer’s intent as they interact. And it does it on demand, wherever your customer may be. We believe this is truly omnichannel.

Going back to our five customer questions, here’s how a chatbot can help…

  1. Gift Finder is a guided Q&A that helps your customer easily narrow down your curated range of products for holiday gifts
  2. In-stock Product Finder is integrated with your inventory or order management system. Entering the SKU or item number will let a shopper know how much stock is on hand and where he can buy it
  3. Product Information such as dimensions, available colors, and size alternatives can be presented on the spot by providing the chatbot a product name or SKU
  4. Order Status can be updated seamlessly and securely using your customer’s existing login and password, then going a step further by offering push notifications
  5. Returns Processing chatbots go beyond simply detailing your policy. The chatbot can help customers navigate the actual return process by asking a series of questions to determine return eligibility and options. Deeper integration with a returns management system can even allow the process to be completed within the chatbot itself.

Sounds great, but it’s almost October already!

The good news is that you still have time. If you’ve got clear brand guidelines, a basic chatbot can be relatively straightforward to design. And, available APIs and web services make implementation possible within even a short timeframe. More complex features – translating order codes into human-readable language, completing customer transactions, or other functions requiring integration with backend applications — will take more consideration, especially if you have a holiday code freeze or lockdown fast approaching.

What are your customers’ make-or-break questions? We’re pretty sure you were already familiar with our five! There’s a lot more to share, of course, but we know you’re probably heads-down finalizing Holiday 2017 plans. So we’ll leave you with this takeaway: even the simplest holiday 2017 chatbot can enhance your brand experience, without stressing anybody systems, or patience. Here’s to a successful season!

Want to learn more about how to get a holiday 2017 chatbot up and running for Holiday 2017? Send us a note here, or fill out the form below, we’ll get back to you right away.

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