Today’s multichannel shopping preferences and convergence of offline and online have retailers searching for ways to take the friction out of the customer experience. While large retailers like Macy’s have turned to AI-powered platforms to accomplish this goal, the expected growth of this emerging omnichannel and AI-powered landscape is clear from a recent Chain Store Age article. This article focuses on several likely scenarios moving forward, such as the prediction that 50 percent of retailers will adopt an omnichannel platform by 2019. Other predictions include the likelihood that by 2019 40 percent of retailers will develop a CX architecture supported by an AI layer. Retailers can already see the building momentum of these tools all around them are beginning to see their essential nature for meeting customer needs no matter when, where and how they shop.
Macy’s and Microsoft Dynamics
Artificial Intelligence has become integral to digital transformations for enterprises behind the scenes and in customer-facing uses with numerous high profile adopters, like Google and Netflix among many others. But very few of the examples provide such a universal model of possibilities to retailers of all sizes and types as the recent integration of Microsoft Dynamics and its AI component for Macy’s. Besides its 670 locations in the US, Puerto Rico, and Guam, the company also serves its customer across the world through its online store at macys.com. Like other retailers, they understand that customers move between mobile, online and in-store. Keeping them satisfied requires a seamless shopping experience that allows them to browse as they make purchases. The retail giant enhanced its website with a virtual agent based on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 AI solution for customer service. The virtual agent is connected to back-end systems, so it can initiate action to solve customer issues and seamlessly transfer them to a live agent if necessary. So far, the virtual agent is fielding over one quarter of customer queries.
How MS Dynamics AI Enhances Macy’s CX
Macy’s virtual agent deliver a conversational text-based interface support experience for customers. The system is connected on the back end to the internal system APIs so that it can access information about merchandise and orders to give customers real-time responses to common inquiries. Macy’s has an existing API and highly scalable services that power e-commerce functions around search, catalog, bag, order, and customer service, which simplified the fast development process. The API integration lets the virtual agent solve customer problems via customized responses which spans:
- Order tracking
- Local retail inventory searches for in-store pickup
- Matching coupons and relevant discounts to current customer orders
- Providing merchandise recommendations.
The ultimate goal is to utilize the Microsoft Dynamics 365 AI solution for customer service and engagement across all channels and empower the brand to deliver exceptional customer experiences.
For most customers today, the primary shopping touch points are mobile or online. Macy’s and others are showing how Microsoft Dynamics can give them the ability to leverage AI to provide a satisfying, frictionless, and personalized experience by:
- Powering virtual assistants and chatbots
- Identifying customer issues with social listening and ticketing solutions
- Assigning agents to customers based on need specifics
- Performing call classification and Intelligent call routing
- Providing customer service response suggestions
- Powering call data analytics for process improvements
Macy’s and others are choosing the Microsoft Dynamics 365 AI solution for its flexible and scalable use in customer service. These attributes enable retailers to quickly meet changing market and customer needs.
Expanding the possibilities with MS Dynamics AI
As AI proves its ability to perform tasks once handled by humans, misunderstandings still exist about its mistaken ability to displace them from the equation. The reality is that just as it has been shown to play a supporting role for marketers, the same holds true for customer service agents. With the Macy’s rollout, the AI-driven virtual agent is used to answer more routine questions that needlessly tie up human agents.
When faced with a more complex request, the virtual agent transfers the customer to a service agent to continue the conversation. The process becomes seamless and frictionless for the consumer as the live agent has access to the entire interaction between the customer and the virtual agent. With that context, the human agent can easily understand the issue and quickly help the customer.
Soon after the Microsoft Dynamics deployment as part of the Macy’s website portal, the virtual agent was answering more than one quarter of customer inquiries, which freed call center agents to field more complex questions and requests. Macy’s is using the Microsoft Dynamics dashboard to:
- Constantly monitor virtual agent performance
- Gain real-time insight into customer questions
- Make adjustments to improve the CX
The retailer is currently looking at expanding the solution to handle personalized product recommendations, social media tracking and interactions, and offering conversational commerce services. Macy’s shows how a virtual agent implementation and the Microsoft AI solution as part of a Microsoft Dynamics rollout can be frictionless for a retailer as well as the customer base. Moving forward, this is an example that retailers of all types should consider adopting.