Although it might seem counterintuitive, deploying virtual agents can help improve brick and mortar retail traffic. By combining digital and in-store customer historical data, your human and virtual agents become smarter and are able to provide personalized service. Read this article to learn more.
Virtual agents can be a crucial component for any digital customer experience. Whether they’re providing service, technical support, selling products, or simply verifying accounts, virtual agents can ensure smooth online interactions between brands and customers. The world’s most innovative retailers have already discovered that virtual agents improve the in-store experience as much as they help with digital transactions. Virtual agents provide retailers with a new and accelerated way to help customers find the information and products they need without burdening already-busy human associates.
In this post, we examine the most critical ways a virtual agent can help retailers improve foot traffic to brick-and-mortar locations. The best reasons to deploy virtual agents and other forms of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be one of the many topics discussed at this year’s Digital Workforce Summit (DWS) on May 8th in New York City. We’re bringing together experts from around the world to focus on the how, when and why of AI systems — including how to keep customers’ interests top of mind.
When a customer interacts with one of your associates, the interaction provides little-to-no value after the fact. Your associate is unlikely to have taken copious notes, or committed to memory the customer’s order preferences. As a result, all of the precious customer data that could have been applied to ensuring a longstanding relationship with the customer upon repeat visits has been lost. Now, every time the customer comes into the store, he or she will be served as essentially a new customer.
Virtual agents are capable of storing interaction data, product preferences, past purchases and any other information delivered from the customer into the system. Even digital transactions can be used to improve customers’ in-store experiences.
Imagine the following scenario: A customer comes into your store. She enters her information into a kiosk or tablet that you’ve provided to aid in her shopping experience. The virtual agent pulls up all of the customer’s information, including her size, her preferred price range and the reviews she’s given to past products. Now, when the customer asks for help finding certain items, the AI system does not go into the conversation blindly; it has all the information it needs to provide expert service on a personal level.
Some customers will always prefer to get a human’s perspective on their purchases. In a similar scenario, the customer would approach a store associate about a specific product. The associate would ask the customer for her name, enter the information into a mobile phone or tablet and the virtual agent would pull up all of the necessary customer information. The associate or the customer herself can now type in product questions. The virtual agent, armed with personalized information, will provide the customer with information she needs, with the agent and associate working together to make sure the customer is satisfied.
Let us not forget the most annoying of all in-store experiences — the checkout line. By arming your associates and customers with devices and kiosks, you’re also giving them instant access to making a payment. Rather than shepherding customers into endless lines that seemingly never shorten, you can bring customers to kiosks for self-checkout aided by a virtual agent. You can have your associates check customers out on mobile devices via a virtual agent. You even allow customers to check themselves out using your mobile app on their own devices.
These are just some of the ways virtual agents can help bring traffic into your store, and keep customers coming back. By providing these kinds of expert expedited experiences, you’re turning the most challenging aspects of retail sales — delivering immediate and accurate information, instant checkouts, and historical relationship data — into personalized processes handled at machine speed.