Throughout the pandemic, retailers have increasingly leveraged the power of data and evolving technology to enhance customer experience both online and offline.

Speed, automation, and convenience are the three pillars of this technology-led retail revolution, and Conversational AI harnesses data to deliver on all, according to Uniphore co-founder and president for Asia Pacific, Ravi Saraogi.

“As we come into the second pandemic Christmas period, Australian retailers are bracing for $58.8 billion to be spent locally, and face a perfect storm of extremely limited supply and massive demand,” he told Retailbiz in a recent interview.

“Retailers can deploy Conversational AI in a variety of ways to help navigate this challenging period and deliver positive customer journeys. AI-driven voice-bots and chatbots can enable instant customer interactions, addressing queries around the clock for quick resolutions, which also significantly minimises wait-times.”

For more complex queries, contact centre agents are available to support customers, assisted by Conversational AI co-pilots.

“From providing agents with real-time information, to offering real-time decisioning capabilities which can recommend next best action, Conversational AI coaches agents through calls, ensuring best outcomes in the most efficient way. Ultimately, AI-powered contact centres can resolve customer journeys more efficiently and effectively for better outcomes.”

By implementing Conversational AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA), contact centres can make agent experiences so simple and instructive that agents no longer need extensive classroom training to be effective.

“Retailers have long been impacted by seasonal buying, necessitating Christmas casual staff in storefronts and contact centres. However, the complexity of contact centre environments makes it difficult to hire and train seasonal staff effectively. This results in slow resolutions, longer wait-times, inaccurate answers, reduced customer satisfaction and unhappy staff, leading to lower retention,” Saraogi explained.

“Conversational AI provides feedback, training and recommended next steps in real-time to augment agent abilities and increase on-the-job training. As a result, contact centres can significantly reduce systems training time, reduce average call times, improve agent retention and satisfaction, increase productivity, and ultimately enhance both employee and customer experiences.”

Looking ahead to 2022, Saraogi expects organisations to finesse the technological solutions implemented through the pandemic to improve customer journeys and business outcomes, with contact centres investing heavily in AI solutions.

“Conversational AI will introduce new, smarter solutions including video and emotion AI, helping people better understand engagement levels and sentiment through video and voice calls. With AI being able to understand if a customer is frustrated, happy or inquisitive through their tone of voice and body language, AI can better inform next best actions, enabling improved relationships.

“Meanwhile, promises management will continue to be increasingly delivered through automation, significantly improving customer experience. Every time an agent promises something, such as scheduling a follow-up call, booking a delivery, or providing a refund, Conversational AI can register this promise, and use automation to ensure it is delivered.”