Servicebots for better retail?

Servicebots for better retail?
December 17, 2016 ushur, inc

ServiceBots could be a solution to some of the current woes of the retail industry. Using instant-message-based systems, these bots can automate many of the functions of a retail operations service desk, bringing a conversational machine interface to what is a costly human-to-human interaction today, thereby reducing the need for scaling human resources, while bringing faster and friendlier support to store employees.

Retailers face increasing business challenges, not the least being staying competitive in the challenging environment of their brick and mortar stores. What happens inside the store may be the weakest link in the chain, when it comes to operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. Forward-looking retailers want to empower all their staff with tools and resources that fit neatly into the daily routine of the store and do not require specialist equipment and training.

Store employees already have complete mastery of their own personal mobile technology. Now there’s a way for retailers to offer their staff a communications tool that utilizes these capabilities to reduce the friction of managing the store, and deal with any issues that may come up, in real-time via mobile devices.

With new servicebots or chatbots technologies, stores can customize and create secure two-way communications via texting, that can expedite a large number of day to day issues.

What are some of the common culprits that reduce store efficiency and discourage customers and staff?

Store Operations

Imagine if the moment there was an issue with store equipment, a staff member could engage with Corporate, report the issue, and receive updates on how fast the solution would be fixed. For instance, if a cash register goes down on a busy Saturday morning, the manager can report the issue via text message, to alert the Service Desk that the cash register needs to be fixed. Once the issue is logged as a support ticket, the Service Desk can send a schedule of when service personnel will come to the store to repair the register. In the meantime, the manager can set expectations with the store team as to when it will be fixed.

For incidents involving store-related software systems, such as stock systems, security tag systems, or access to employee-only areas of the store, Service Bots can send a resolution confirmation to the store manager to confirm that the issue is actually resolved.

Employee Support and Education

Beyond store equipment and software, there are also ways that ServiceBots can support the day-to-day interactions of employees with Corporate. For example, on the sales floor, store employees don’t usually have access to a computer, and face-to-face training minutes are generally reserved for the highest priority safety and compliance training. However, there’s a host of other information and training that ServiceBots can deliver via instant messaging.

These engagements could take place between the Retailer and the employee at the employee’s convenience. By using simple dialogs, employees can conduct HR activities like choosing benefits information, taking a video based training course, or checking on staff rosters, all on the device of their choice.

Automating the Service Desk

All of these interactions can occur on any mobile phone without downloading an app or without the need to install client software. Retailers design workflows to fit their company processes and they can be scaled to national or even international employees.

The promise of ServiceBots is to automate many of the functions of a retail operations service desk, bringing a conversational machine interface to what otherwise is a costly human-to-human interaction today.

Proper automation via instant messaging reduces the need for scaling human resources and allows retailers to dedicate their expert individuals in the retail operation to take care of the most complex issues, while bringing faster and friendlier support to store employees.

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