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Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Will Generative AI Improve Customer Experiences in Retail

 Useful thoughts and directions.

Will Generative AI Improve Customer Experiences in Retail  by Patricia Vekich Waldron

Customer experience (CX) and customer service leaders gathered in San Diego this week for the Reuters Events: Customer Service & Experience West 2023 conference. The consensus was that customer care is a brand differentiator and strategic focus for companies–especially given that customer expectations, call volumes, service employee attrition and training costs are all up.

In a session titled “Generative AI in CX,” Shawn Strassburg, head of transformation, Best Buy, discussed how the consumer electronics retailer uses artificial intelligence to solve specific CX/contact center business problems.

“Three and a half years ago, where the company made a very on-purpose decision, that we were going to re-envision customer care with a key focus on customer obsession. And really, really understanding your customers’ words, their voice,” said Mr. Strassburg. The retailer is halfway through its transformation.

The company uses a top-down/bottom-up approach to understand customers using data to guide decision-making. Leadership, business, data and analytics, and finance teams secured a top-down commitment and alignment to truly understand customers and the internal customer care processes. Bottom-up insights come from front-line teams, call center agents’ experiences, and customers’ experiences interacting with Best Buy’s CX organization.

Best Buy created a lab staffed with top agents and discovered a disconnect between contact center system data and what was happening as customers called in. To improve agent performance and customer experience, Best Buy implemented AI for real-time audio transcription, automated contact summaries and contact intent detection.

Lab trials have delivered a 25 percent reduction in after-call work (ACW) as call agents no longer must manually compose and enter call history and actions. There was also an 18-second reduction in talk time.

“As we tested it out, we were anticipating about a 15-second reduction in just talk time, not a negative way, but in a super positive way because it was helping to build a foundation of trust and partnership within our agent base and in our customer base,” said Mr. Strassburg.

Best Buy is auditing its systems and processes to identify where to plug in AI capabilities to hear the voice of their customer better, discover the true intent of why they call for service and determine if it has succeeded in resolving issues.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What role(s) do you see generative artificial intelligence playing for retailers looking to improve the customer experience? How does Best Buy’s approach compare to other retailers? ... ' 

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