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Exclusive: Bestseller offers bilingual virtual assistance

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Besteller is automating online customer service – in two languages.

A global specialty apparel/accessories retailer is using artificial intelligence (AI) to automate Canadian customer service interactions in English and French.

The Canadian division of Bestseller, a Denmark-based sustainable fashion retailer, found itself experiencing a sharp increase in the number of customer inquiries it received from its e-commerce site and social channels, even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company began looking for a solution that would enable it to review and receive customer service requests on a 24/7 basis. 

Based in Quebec, Besteller’s Canadian division sought an automated customer service solution that would work in both English and French, and ideally would be built by a Canadian company. Bestseller selected Heyday, a Montreal-based customer service platform offered by Hootsuite, to build a custom, AI-based, conversational chat solution for the Bestseller Canada e-commerce website and the company’s Canadian Facebook Messenger channel.

“We wanted to be more engaged with our customers, provide faster and easier service, explained Cynthia Lemire, e-commerce customer care leader at Bestseller, in an exclusive conversation with Chain Store Age. “Bestseller decided to pursue an AI-based online customer experience strategy to provide an around-the-clock service to our customers.

“When looking for a bilingual solution, we saw a difference between European French and Canadian French, so we decided to utilize a local solutions provider we knew would understand our unique needs,” said Lemire.

In the first three months of rollout, Bestseller’s new AI-based virtual customer service agent, known as “Best,” handled more than 38,000 customer conversations on Facebook Messenger, with a peak automation rate of 90%. More than three-quarters (76%) of customers who engaged with the automated virtual agent rated their experience as "excellent,” and average response time was 90 seconds.

When a conversation is transferred from the automated bot to a human customer service representative, the customer’s history is immediately available for the human agent to view. In addition, the virtual agent can switch from French to English in the same conversation.

“We have been able to assist many more customers with the around-the-clock customer service bot, as well as automate some repetitive inquiries that can be fully handled by the bot,” said Lemire. In addition, the solution’s high automation rate frees up Bestseller’s customer service agents time to focus on other initiatives, and to ensure they are not bogged down by lower-level customer inquiries.

Looking ahead, Lemire expects Bestseller to continue expanding its usage of the Heyday automated virtual agent solution.

“We want to keep growing and using the new features as much as possible, continue to help our customers with self-service, and help our customers during their online shopping visits,” stated Lemire.

Founded in Denmark in 1975, Bestseller operates 20 unique brands under the Besteller umbrella, including Jack & Jones, Vera Moda, and Only, Bestseller provides clothes and accessories for men, women and children. The company operates stores in over 40 countries, including the U.S. and Canada.

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