Why Yesterday’s Chatbots are Putting Your Potential Revenue at Risk



Simplr recently released its latest digital presale CX analysis of leading apparel & fashion brands. The full report, which you can download here, uncovers opportunities for retail brands to generate more revenue through chatbot and live chat capabilities.

Leading retail brands are engaging, and then neglecting customers when it matters most – putting millions in potential revenue at risk. The most common platform for this occurrence is through the chat channel. 

Findings in our recent digital pre-sale CX analysis which reviewed some of today’s leading apparel & fashion brands concluded that chatbots unfortunately left much to be desired—and a mountain of money on the table.

Based on our analysis, there were only 10 instances where the shoppers were able to interact with a Chatbot, just 13% of the total 75 mystery shops, and in just one of those, the chatbot was able to successfully answer the shopper’s question—yikes! It appeared that this was the result of a “deflection” strategy, which pushes customer inquiries out of the chat channel.

These well-intentioned “deflection” strategies redirect in-need consumers out of their initial communication stream, usually forcing the customer to pick up the phone, initiate an entirely new email thread or just give up altogether. This leads to increased operational costs and, more crucially, dissatisfied customers. The critical juncture here is to recognize that minimizing interactions might not always equate to optimizing the customer journey.

“Engagement” strategies, where purchase intent inquiries are resolved, are the preferred strategy for revenue generation. Fortunately, it is now very possible for brands to achieve this through generative AI.

Rather than shying away from interactions, businesses are now empowered to embrace them. Imagine a scenario where each customer interaction is seen as a potential avenue for revenue generation. Sounds revolutionary, doesn’t it? Yet, it’s a reality that is fast gaining traction among today’s leading retail brands.

Chat channel shortcomings

If we take a step back and consider the chat channel as a whole, brands like Coach, Macy’s and Nordstrom proved to have the least desirable overall chat experience. For one brand in particular, there were almost 20 chat interactions where a customer couldn’t even complete the full chat, due to one of the following reasons:

  • Chat was not visible  at the time of the shopping session
  • The chat bubble was visible, but when clicked on said “not available”
  • Upon initiating a chat, the chatbot had technical issues that terminated the interaction

When it comes to providing exceptional customer experiences, the quality of both your chatbot and the actual live chat experiences your customer engages in are paramount. In particular, the chatbot must have the ability to accurately answer even the most basic, one-touch questions— otherwise, significant revenue will be missed.

“The chatbot exhibited some odd behavior. For example, it asked my name, and when I said, “Hi, it’s Leah,” it referred to me as “Hi, it’s Leah.” It also didn’t seem to record any of this, because the live agent it transferred me to referred to me as Pat.” – Anonymous shopper reflecting on their experience with a leading multi billion dollar retail brand

What retailers need to know

The biggest takeaway is – yesterday’s chatbots aren’t cutting it. We continue to see time and time again intent-based chatbots (the prior generation of AI) deterring customers. Instead, brands should be moving toward generative AI technology that can make the customer the focal point, addressing their concerns comprehensively, and ultimately allowing businesses to not only build trust but also set the stage for upselling and cross-selling opportunities.