The times when talking about implementing AI solutions in business sufficed are long gone
Given the fast growth of e-commerce during the pandemic, such solutions have rapidly moved from the “nice to have” to the “must have” category.
Katarzyna Dorsey, Yosh.AI
The times when talking about implementing AI solutions in business sufficed are long gone. Given the fast growth of e-commerce during the pandemic, such solutions have rapidly moved from the “nice to have” to the “must have” category. Those retailers that have quickly adapted to this new post-Covid reality and are already implementing AI-based solutions can still gain a competitive advantage. However, the most important benefit is that they will increase their chances of effectively competing with companies such as Amazon and Zalando, which already implemented innovative AI technologies a few years ago and are now in a position to increase their competitive advantage over companies that have not invested enough in this area. In the report “Humans + bots: Tension and opportunity” MIT describes “How top global brands blend human skills and AI to build customer intimacy and drive growth” which confirms that the benefits of deploying assistants in retail are already significant. “Juniper estimates that by 2023, chatbots deployed in the retail sector globally will save the industry $11.5 billion in costs, and generate over $112 billion in sales revenue.”
The mission of Yosh.AI is to strengthen the position of retailers by providing state-of-the-art AI solutions in conversational commerce as well as image recognition. These two areas of artificial intelligence are revolutionizing online shopping, by ensuring not only a more enjoyable customer experience, but also higher conversion rates for retailers. The efficiency and returns on investments in these solutions are continuously confirmed by Yosh.AI customers, as evidenced by their increasing implementation throughout the world.
Conversational commerce has gained new impetus with the introduction of AI assistants based on the NLP (Natural Language Processing) technology in place of the formerly used rule-based chatbots. The old-type chatbots which mostly annoyed customers have been replaced by AI virtual assistants which are able to conduct a more natural conversation with customers. In everyday life, assistants such as Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri help users in their daily chores, answer questions such as “What’s the weather like today” and respond to instructions such as “Tell me a joke” or “Play music”. According to a survey conducted by a consulting company, “these general questions are asked by approximately 70% of all users”. But the second largest group of questions asked by more than 35% of users are those addressed to the companies and brands. These questions relate both to purchases of products by AI assistants and to customer service issues. Immediately after the user says “Talk to CCC” or “Talk to MediaMarkt”, he or she is connected to a voice version of the relevant company’s website where information the users are seeking can be obtained. None of the brands can afford not to be present on such voice-based communication platforms or fail to provide the possibility to access the brand through this channel to its customers.
The objective of Yosh.AI is to create personalized virtual assistants for companies. For the first time in history, these assistants will enable brands to engage in direct conversation with their customers using an AI-based technology. Virtual assistants are implemented by Yosh.AI in many sectors, from retailers to banking to health care, where a voice assistant was connected to the Polish National Healthcare Fund’s helpline “Coronavirus Information” and accessed by nearly 40,000 people each day.
Efficiency is one of the main advantages of the Yosh.AI solutions – having developed a virtual AI assistant, a company may implement it in many channels of voice-based and text-based communication. The voice-based version can be connected to its telephone line or integrated with Google Assistant or Alexa. It can also be installed in a company’s mobile app to allow customers for example to give instructions or search for products, or to find the nearest ATM. The text-based version of the AI assistant can be implemented on a company’s website and on social media or communication platforms such as Messenger, WhatsApp or Slack.
CCC is one of the companies that has implemented an AI assistant in many communication channels, starting from a voice-based version for Google Assistant to quite a successful Proof-of-Concept (POC). Today, CCC already has a voice-based version connected to the customer service helpline which ensures its availability on a 24/7 basis and a text-based version on its website and on Messenger. Another significant advantage of AI assistants for international firms is the fact that they are able to offer customer service in 30 languages in the case of voice-based solutions and in more than 60 languages in text-based solutions, allowing the firms to quickly adapt to any additional language. CCC has already implemented 3 languages and plans to introduce more in 2021.
A typical AI assistant developed by Yosh.AI for a retailer covers the entire shopping experience –, from searching for a product to assisting a customer after the purchase. Conversational searching is more enjoyable, since it involves natural dialogue, resembling a customer’s experience in a shop with a shop assistant. Both a voice-based and a text-based conversation allows a user to act faster and more accurately. The user does not have to select a number of filters – it is sufficient to simply speak out specific search criteria. In addition, especially in the clothing or interior design sectors, the search may be enhanced by visual aspects. A user can send the picture of a product he or she is looking for. Moreover, the AI Assistant can not only suggest the location of the nearest shop to a customer, but is also able to provide information on the availability of the selected product in a specific model and size in the nearest shop. This allows for shopping to be smoothly channelled from online to offline shopping (omnichanel). The assistant can also help the customer check the status of his or her delivery and answer the most frequently asked questions.
Among Yosh’s customers, the use of virtual assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic increased by 300-400%. The ability to quickly (within a few minutes) correct information on the open shops was a very important aspect. A virtual AI assistant supporting a customer service hotline is crucial for every company. It not only enables round-the-clock service but also increases the efficiency of the team. The assistant deals with the majority of routine questions, including those relating to the delivery status, allowing the customer service team to focus on offering a better service on less typical questions. Implementing a virtual assistant makes it possible to save more than 50% of customer service costs. Moreover, as one of the consulting companies shows in its report: Conversational Commerce: Why consumers are embracing voice assistants in their lives, voice-based assistants raise the brand’s NPS (Net Promoter Score) by nearly 20 points. The authors of the reports emphasizes that “Conversational commerce is an unparalleled opportunity for brands to build highly valuable and valued personal relationships with consumers and use this new-found intimacy to drive brand preference and a sense of affiliation with the brand.” At the same time, PwC’s report “An in-depth look at consumer adoption and use of voice assistants, and how companies can earn their trust—and their business” emphasizes that “Consumer awareness of voice devices and assistants, in terms of all the technology that exists and the capabilities that are already in place, is nascent. However, there’s no denying that the voice is the future. The technology will continue to drive and shift consumer behaviour, and companies need to prepare and adjust accordingly. Consumers are talking, and it’s a good idea to listen.” On markets such as the United States, where the implementation of voice-based solutions is more advanced, retailers have already noticed the strong impact of voice-assisted services on users. According to the report: A positive shopping experience can mean deeper loyalty, greater trust, and more money spent. On average, 80% of consumers who have shopped using a voice assistant are satisfied, and as a result:
- 39% shared their positive experiences with friends and family
- 39% shopped again with the same retailer
- 36% have a more favourable opinion of the retailer
- 24% spent more money with the retailer”.
According to a report by one of the consulting companies “Building the retail superstar: How unleashing AI across functions offers a multi-billion dollar opportunity”, countries such as France and the UK are the leaders in implementing AI solutions in retail. According to the report, already in 2018:
- More than a quarter of the top 250 global retailers have implemented AI in their organizations;
- Retailers across the world are upbeat about AI’s potential. France and the UK have the highest penetration, with over a third of retailers implementing AI initiatives;
- Two retail sub-sectors are leading the way in using AI to transform operations and personalize customer engagement: apparel and footwear and food and grocery.
Companies in the food and grocery sectors are also among those already using the solutions developed by Yosh.AI. An examples is the AI assistant for Frisco, which is a very innovative solution on a global scale. The main idea behind it is to allow customers to shop while driving, so that they use the time spent commuting to work efficiently. Purchases are made by voice, without the need to touch a phone screen. Since the majority of the products are bought repeatedly, after connecting with the shopping assistant, the customer can use the contents of the last basket they purchased as a starting point, modify it if necessary and select a delivery date after completing the purchase. The Frisco Assistant addresses a customer’s new need, which is a big opportunity for the brand, as it allows interaction with the brand at a moment not previously utilized, during a customer’s daily commute. Ordering while driving is particularly useful when ordering deliveries such as pizza or coffee, where the user usually already knows what to order and is simply placing the order while driving.
According to the MIT report “Humans + bots: Tension and opportunity” which is based on a survey of nearly 600 executives, the key conclusions for firms are as follows:
- “Ninety percent of companies are implementing AI across some aspect of their customer’s shopping journey. However the scale of adoption is far greater in companies that are leaders in customer experience.
- AI investment is driven by efforts to improve efficiency and, at leading companies, to establish closer relationships with the customer.
- Companies are experiencing dramatic volume growth after implementing AI customer contact channels.
- Faster call processing and complaint resolution are reported by nine out of ten companies.
- Increased customer satisfaction is improving revenue performance. Operational costs are increasing, as companies continue to invest in their customer channels.”
The use of voice-based AI assistants is undoubtedly changing not only retail, banking and healthcare, but other sectors too. Voice technology is no longer simply an innovation which is worth considering for marketing purposes only to showcase how innovative a company is, and to discover new possibilities in the field of AI. A conversation with AI shopping assistants is changing the way customers interact with brands, generating new sales, engagement and brand loyalty. In addition, it provides automation, which translates into significant cost savings. Recent months have confirmed the need to implement this solution, and firms which have already invested in voice-based tools have not only gained a competitive advantage, but are already reaping the benefits of greater customer engagement and higher sales. Companies which continue to neglect the need to offer this technology to their customers are not only widening the gap between their offers and tech giants such as Amazon and Google, but are also losing out to their competitors.