Chatbots and Virtual Brand Experts Unite to Reform the Retail Customer Experience

Digital Customer Engagement That Creates Lasting Customer Connection

It’s time for the retail customer experience to change, yet successfully bridging the gap between online and offline retailing remains one of the key challenges in the retail industry today. It’s essential to the retail customer experience to assure a smooth, seamless transition as customers jump from one shopping channel to the next.

Retailers and brands that strip friction out of the buyer’s journey and deliver a cohesive omnichannel retail customer experience assure a higher level and consistency of engagement with their store, brand, and products. When retailers achieve this, customers experience more meaningful interactions, swift, suitable resolutions to their issues and concerns, and a smoother, confident path to a purchase.

AskMe®, a digital customer engagement solution, leverages AI and live brand experts to meet customers where they are—in the thick of their online or in-store buyer’s journey—and close more sales. Virtually accessible live brand experts can deliver not just an effective but uniquely human customer connection while heightening the customer experience.

Digital Customer Engagement That’s as Real as It Gets

Chatbots certainly have their place in any retailer’s or brand’s toolbox. The ultimate solution—one that has great potential to convert more sales—draws on the best chatbots and human brand experts have to offer to maximize the customer experience.

AskMe relies on remote human brand experts that shoppers can instantly access by scanning a QR code tagged on a product or shelf. Via video chat, text, or phone call, customers connect with a brand expert who is highly trained and has intimate knowledge of brands and product lines.

AskMe gives brands and retailers a way to bring a dedicated team of human brand experts to their customers—whether in-store or online—through their devices, which they already rely on while they shop.

AskMe reps are not just agents—they are savvy brand experts who receive intense, ongoing training from our Learning, Training, and Development team and from our in-house retail sales experts on each brand and product they represent. Behind every AskMe rep is a team of retail sales specialists and strategists and sales-changing technologies, configured to optimize results for our clients.

A side benefit of AskMe is that once a virtual brand expert takes over, in-store retail associates are free to help customers in other ways and perform additional tasks. AskMe experts are highly trained in the technical details and differences between various makes and models of items shown on the floor, so retail associates don’t necessarily require that knowledge. It’s a win-win for retail operations, customer service, sales, staffing, and brand advocacy.

AskMe solves for this and many other persistent retail dilemmas.

Why Virtual Brand Experts Make Sense for Retail Stores and Brands

A recent Forbes article, Human Virtual Assistants Versus AI: Pros, Cons and How to Choose, written by Danielle Cuomo, outlined several logical reasons why humans—yes, real people—are essential to the customer experience and have attributes retail shoppers crave.

Emotional Intelligence
Humans are sensitized to reading between the lines when they hear a customer’s tone of voice change. This nuanced understanding allows live virtual assistants to quickly grasp a customer’s true concerns and intentions. They can lend an empathetic ear and sort out complex concerns and desires in a way that assures the customer of a personalized resolution to their problem.

Adaptability and Critical Thinking
Machine learning can assist AI-based chatbots in executing pre-defined tasks, but ambiguity and complex scenarios can confound a traditional chatbot, making meaningful conversations challenging. Humans can adapt and create customized solutions. They can solve problems strategically. They can make decisions.

Language Fluency
The art of communication is more than just having a large vocabulary. Most languages are peppered with idiomatic expressions, regional dialects, and linguistic variations. Chatbots cannot possibly grasp all these differences, whereas humans can easily glean context and converse in a way that is direct, personal, and gets to the heart of the matter.

Ability to Build Trusting Relationships
Enduring success in retail is based on keeping customers long term and building loyalty. That loyalty is based on trust. Humans can foster trust by nurturing relationships. In the relationship-building arena, chatbots are easily recognized as an expedient, stop-gap measure. Humans can establish ongoing connections that demonstrate an appreciation of customers’ unique preferences and circumstances.

Chatbots + Live Brand Experts = A Power Couple

The benefits of uniting technology and the human touch abound – for customers and retailers alike. AskMe leverages AI to both enhance the customer experience and empower the rep before they even connect with each other. Interacting with a chatbot first helps prepare customers for a meaningful call with the right AskMe expert, who can guide them to their ideal purchase.

Benefits of Starting the Sale with Chatbots:

  • Connect with customers instantly until sales associates become free
  • Identify customers’ best point of assistance based on their input
  • Track and transfer knowledge of the customer’s presenting concern so customers don’t have to repeat it when they connect to the rep

Virtual Brand Experts Take Over and Offer:

  • Retail associate coverage/back-up
  • Ability to handle complex tasks
  • Empathy
  • Personal, intuitive, spontaneous responses and meaningful conversations
  • Personalized product recommendations
  • Comprehensive product information and answers to detailed, nuanced questions
  • Conversations that require collaboration and decision-making
  • A direct connection between brands and customers that fosters long-term relationships
  • Ability to close the sale
  • Post-sales support once the customer gets their product home

The advent of AI-powered chatbots that rely on sophisticated software based on conversational language analysis and processing—referred to as natural language processing, or NLP—could lead to more humanized response capabilities. Some refer to this as “intelligent virtual assisting.” But the most sophisticated chatbot will never be able to respond spontaneously and intuitively to buyers’ needs.

They can make broad product recommendations, check inventory, monitor orders, and more, according to a story at And, when leveraged for the first minute of customer engagement to field and narrow a customer’s inquiry with a goal of routing them to the best live agent who can address their issues and escort them through their buying journey from start to finish, chatbots can play a helpful role. They’ll never be able to provide the human touch customers crave, but they can connect customers to brand experts who can.

Ready to talk?

AskMe can help you connect with your customers where they are in revolutionary ways that drive more sales.

Author: Karen Salamone

Author: Karen Salamone

Karen is Head of Marketing for MarketSource. She is a transformational B2B and B2B2C leader with a history of building marketing organizations, content teams, and demand generation centers of excellence from the ground up. She is recognized for delivering meaningful insights and fresh approaches and for earning best-in-class content, design, and multi-media awards.

Want More Sales?

Subscribe now to receive occasional emails with insights that help you accelerate profitable growth, risk reduction, market expansion, and revenue velocity.
What are you waiting for?