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Retail’s next frontier: Elevating customer experience with Zendesk AI

Discover how retail businesses are modernizing CX, delivering personalized services, and boosting efficiency and savings with Zendesk AI.

Por Subarna Ganguly, Staff Writer

Última actualización el June 28, 2024

Competition in the retail industry is cutthroat. As online shopping continues to gain momentum, retailers need to re-evaluate their brick-and-mortar and online customer experience. Embracing AI to support all those needs is the cost-effective way forward, and many retailers are already reaping the benefits.

The impact of AI in the retail sector has been revolutionary, empowering businesses with unprecedented data that significantly enhanced retail operations and unlocked new business opportunities. AI services in the retail sector are predicted to see an exponential increase—from $5 billion to above $31 billion by 2028. Early adopters stand to gain the most, and NEXT and Liberty London are two such visionary enterprises leading the way.

Elevating global CX for 10 million customers with Zendesk AI

NEXT is a British multinational clothing, footwear, accessories, and home-products retailer with 700 stores, including international franchises, serving over 10 million customers across 127 countries. NEXT has steadily evolved its tech stack to meet new consumer demands, taking the pivotal step in 2022 to switch to Zendesk and replace its homegrown custom CRM solution.

The company now leverages Zendesk Enterprise Suite Plus, including Agent Workspace, help center, email, chat, social, and Zendesk AI. The Sunshine Conversations platform allows the team to integrate non-voice contacts and create a real-time connection with their chatbot.

After implementing our solution, NEXT saw major improvements in CX stability and efficiency, including a 15 percent decrease in average handling time (AHT). Introducing Zendesk AI to the mix is proving transformational, less than a year in.

The AI journey started with the email channel, staffed by 200 customer service agents. From there, NEXT approached the broader rollout through an educational lens, positioning AI as an assistance tool for those human agents, rather than a people replacement tool, and coaching advisers on best practices.

“Our successful experience with Zendesk AI has given artificial intelligence credibility across our business. For many of us, it’s the first AI tool that lived up to the hype and actually delivered,” says Raz Razaq, Head of Customer Contact Experience Technology at NEXT.

Next for NEXT, the company is considering Zendesk Intelligent Triage as part of a larger modernization project. Working with the Zendesk compliance team helped alleviate concerns about AI data privacy by establishing a solution where data is securely used and stored.

“Zendesk AI is a helping hand for the team, like an on-the-job co-pilot. We see that AI is going to improve the quality of our contact resolution, the efficiency of the team, and the overall customer journey,” reports Matthew Hallam, Head of Customer Service Operations at NEXT.

Delivering more “human” personalized service

UK-based Liberty London is an iconic luxury brand standing the test of time for more than 150 years. Today, the enterprise retailer is known for delivering a premium customer experience across every channel, but it hasn’t been an easy ride. With online sales rising to nearly 50 percent of total sales, operations urgently required modernization.

In 2015, Liberty installed Zendesk’s email management software. Emails that arrived in the shared mail inbox were automatically forwarded to the Zendesk inbox. The next step was to integrate Zendesk’s Talk software. This allowed Liberty to manage its voice calls from the same platform it used for emails. This meant that all its contact data was captured by the same system. And that customer service agents could take calls on a range of devices, using the Zendesk Talk voice-over-IP phone. These Zendesk features provided opportunities to incrementally improve customer experience. The next step was to integrate Zendesk’s Talk software. Today, Liberty uses Zendesk to offer customers service over phone, chat, email, and messaging channels such as WhatsApp.

The CX team uses Zendesk AI to automatically classify and route incoming tickets to the right agents at the right time and leverages Intelligent Triage to identify and label customer intent, sentiment, and language. They also lean on Zendesk analytics to understand performance and plan to use Intelligent Triage to deal with ticket backlog.

“I see AI enhancing that personal service because now our customers will be interacting with a human who’s being put in front of them at the right time with the right information,” says Ian Hunt, Director of Customer Service at Liberty.

Liberty sees Zendesk AI as key to delivering personalized service

Realizing tangible gains: The proven ROI of Zendesk AI in retail CX

With Zendesk AI, Liberty achieved a 73 percent drop in first response time, 11 percent decrease in resolution time, and 90 percent CSAT rate—a nine-percent increase year-on-year. And by making self-service not only possible, but also popular with Liberty customers, Zendesk has helped cut agent-related costs and freed experts to work on more complex projects such as driving revenue or new sales channels. Self-service savings alone totaled $21,461 within the first few months, and counting.

NEXT currently uses Zendesk AI Tone Shift, Expand, and Summarize features, which has helped drive a four-percentage-point improvement in an already-high quality rating and an 11 percent reduction in email AHT. They now boast of an impressive 92 percent one-touch resolution rate.

Both NEXT and Liberty success stories are testament to how partnering with Zendesk helps companies get value out of the box quickly, realize greater agility, and experience key savings early on. Speaking of how Zendesk empowers Liberty to embrace more agile risks in the CX arena, Razaq says “For us, Zendesk goes beyond cost of ownership. It gives us the flexibility to do things we couldn’t do before.”

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