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How AI Disrupts Online Customer Experiences – For Better or For Worse

By Robin Gomez, Director, Customer Care Innovation, Radial

AI is on the forefront of innovation across multiple industries, and eCommerce is no exception. Since its release in November 2022, OpenAI’s ChatGPT has dominated headlines. Forcing industry leaders to grapple with how to adopt generative artificial intelligence (generative AI) and leverage this technology to stay ahead of competitors. Generative AI has the potential to revolutionize the customer experience, and its impact should not be underestimated. However, businesses must strike a balance between AI and customer care agents to provide consumers with personalized and intuitive interactions while maintaining accuracy and reliability.

What is Generative AI?

ChatGPT is a game-changing AI tool developed by OpenAI that can create content based on large language models. Its core capability is to provide written information, summaries, stories, and more, serving users with an accelerator and supportive tool to enhance creativity, productivity, and efficiency. To optimize the effectiveness of the AI and before being deployed by users, ChatGPT should be trained with relevant content that aligns with the use-case objective. Generative AI has a broad range of applications beyond virtual assistants, and customer care is one area where it is expected to see significant implementation.

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Navigating Innovative Technology in Retail

The retail industry is facing the challenge of meeting consumers’ rising expectations. While chatbots have aided customer care agents thus far, businesses still need to upscale their capabilities to provide a consistent cross-channel experience, primarily online. According to a Market Watch Analysis, artificial intelligence (AI) tools are not new to business leaders. However, the number of times AI has been mentioned on corporate earnings calls spiked more than 75% so far in 2023, compared to the same time last year. Now, more than ever, businesses are betting on AI to deliver customized services to meet demand, even before consumers express their needs.

By providing consumers with choices, reducing repetitive requests to agents, driving resolution and allowing agents to focus on more complex customer issues, conversational AI-powered chatbots can significantly enhance the online shopping experience. Conversational AI simulates human conversation through NLP, helping consumers interact more intuitively while reducing the need for agents to partake in all consumer interactions.

Generative AI can provide proactive customer care by offering tailored recommendations or automatically delivering answers throughout the shopping experience. For example, suppose a customer is searching for chocolate for an upcoming holiday. In that case, the chatbot can offer information on best sellers, new products, sales codes, shipping times, and nutritional details to help the customer make an informed decision. Conversational AI can supply consumers with real-time updates and quality feedback, creating a custom experience that meets expectations.

Striking a Balance with Generative AI & Measuring ROI

While AI-supported chatbots have become an integral solution for businesses to provide quick and efficient customer service, recent data has shown that customers may not be fully satisfied with the current state of chatbot technology. According to a survey, only 25% of consumers felt understood by existing chatbot technology. This is a stark contrast to the 67% of respondents who noted they often or always feel understood by conversational AI tools.

The disparity between customer satisfaction with existing chatbot technology and conversational AI tools signals a need for brands to re-evaluate their approach to customer care and AI deployment to better accommodate consumer demand and sentiments. It’s clear that consumers are seeking more authentic interactions with brands. As such, businesses should consider using a combination of innovative technology and experienced human workers to stay relevant and acquire and retain customers.

Additionally, improving customer care and individualizing experiences can increase sales revenue and consumer retention for brands and retailers. For eCommerce customer care agents, the integration of ChatGPT or conversational AI could help eliminate repetitive administration tasks. It can also guide the customers through an early onset of prompted questions, allowing agents to focus more on the consumers’ needs and help them through the process more efficiently. The integration of AI in customer care is not only to augment agents’ productivity and save valuable time, but also deliver unparalleled quality of customer care, laying out the foundation for sustainable business growth.

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Working Alongside Generative AI

Individuals working in eCommerce customer care roles will need to continue to learn to work with generative AI as a partner, coach, and resource. ChatGPT, like other large language models (LLM) are solely dependent on the information and data they are sourcing. This is where keeping ‘humans-in-the-loop’ is vital when integrating ChatGPT or conversational AI. To ensure that chatbots provide recommendations and answers that align with the business’s model and ethics, a team of staff members must oversee the process and ensure that the information is accurate, reliable, and consistent with the brand’s voice.

Training programs will be vital to ensure that the technology is being used properly and executed in a way that improves the overall customer care and experience. Industry leaders must realize that ultimately nearly every job across an eCommerce workforce could potentially be impacted by the expanded use of ChatGPT or generative AI. Their staff will need to be coached, trained and supported beyond the onboarding process to fully capitalize on the potential of generative AI.

In conclusion, the impact of generative AI on eCommerce is undeniable. While it brings opportunities to revolutionize customer interactions and create memorable experiences, it also poses challenges in balancing the role of AI and human workforce. However, businesses that embrace innovative technologies like ChatGPT will thrive and stay ahead of the competition. The future of eCommerce lies in the hands of those who are willing to adopt and adapt to these changes, ultimately leading to the delivery of exceptional customer care and building strong customer relationships.

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