Black Friday Bargains Aren’t Just for Customers

Andrea Lowe | November 15, 2018

It’s the most wonderful time of year… for retailers. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are around the corner, meaning millions – correction – billions of dollars are about to be spent by consumers looking to cash in on holiday deals.

According to Adobe Analytics, American consumers spent a record $5.03 billion on Black Friday in 2017, an increase of 16.9 percent in 2016, and $6.59 billion on Cyber Monday, making it the largest online shopping day in U.S. history.

As spending amps up, each year, more and more consumers are also choosing to forgo the crowds and chaos that come with the in-store shopping experience and instead opt to do their deal hunting online, frequently using their mobile devices to do so. According to MarTech, smartphone shoppers alone accounted for 64% of Black Friday sales in 2017, and that number is only expected to increase.

What does all this mean for retailers? It means that while they’re busy prepping for the throngs of in-store shoppers, they also need to prepare for a surge of website traffic and ensure they’re making it easy for customers to complete their purchases on mobile channels.

Informative, up-to-date product pages and reviews are a great place to start, but retailers should also focus on providing the same conversational experience customers would receive if they were in-store talking with a sales associate. Click to Tweet

It’s clearly not feasible to hire enough customer service agents to deliver this type of immediate, one-to-one support for all customers, which is why more and more businesses are turning to chatbots to get through the holiday season (and beyond).

Not only do intelligent chatbots provide the instant conversational experiences customers crave, they do it all at a fraction of the cost of other customer service channels. They’re kind of like the ultimate Black Friday bargain for retailers.

Businesses can expect to save $11 billion by 2023 by using chatbots as replacements for customer service reps.

- Juniper Research

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

While chatbots might sound like the perfect gift to give your company, it’s important to remember that they can’t handle all customer inquiries and will never be able to fully replace your human agents. To get the most from your chatbot implementation, use them when and where they make the most sense.

Let’s look at an example of a typical customer journey to see how virtual agents can work with human agents to help lower customer service costs, improve loyalty and increase incremental conversions.

[24]7 Retail Journey from [24]7.ai on Vimeo.

The combination of automated and live support provides a seamless experience for the customer and makes it simple for them to do business. It also helps control costs by allowing the chatbot to handle most of the interaction, and transfer the full context of the conversation to the agent when required, so the agent is able to instantly determine how to help the customer.

If you’re ready to unleash the power of chatbots to help your company thrive this holiday season, here are a few pointers for getting started:

  1. Be persistent: Make the “chat” invite easily available on any channel, platform, or device.
  2. Be transparent: Start the conversation by letting the customer know they’re chatting to a virtual agent (so they don't think it’s a live agent) and suggesting possible questions.
  3. Be consistent: When transferring to a live agent, be sure the customer understands when and why they are being transferred.
  4. Be familiar: Mirror everyday messaging communications by including a time stamp when introducing the live agent, showing a typing indicator, and following back and forth conversational flow.
  5. Be proactive: Offer customers a chance to provide feedback or rate their experience at the end of the chat. This will help you increase your company’s NPS and CSAT scores.

Learn more about how to blend agents and automation to provide the conversational experiences your customers crave. Get your copy of our eBook, Conversational Commerce: The Customer Experience of the Future.