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Chatbots are revolutionising the Middle East retail industry

85% of all customer interactions by 2025 will be handled without a human agent

Chatbots are revolutionising the Middle East retail industry
Souffiane Houti

Artificial Intelligence  is growing by leaps and bounds and technologies such as Chatbots have become an integral part of this digital transformation.

Data from Juniper Research suggests that Chatbots leveraged for customer service have a strong potential to reduce costs; with deployments realising annual savings for retailers of $439 million globally by 2023, up from just $7 million in 2019. Presenting at the recently concluded Retail Congress MENA 2019, Mr. Souffiane Houti, the Founder and COO of VIAFONE Technologies, a tech firm, part of CELS Group, highlighted these and many other poignant points concerning the retail industry.

The chatbots growth has been prominent across a number of industries, to the point where 1.4 billion people worldwide now use them on a fairly regular basis. According to the chatbot statistics, by the end of 2019, almost a quarter of the global population will be using some kind of chatbot support on a daily basis. Moreover, chatbots can cut operational costs by up to 30% and 50% of businesses plan to spend more on Chatbots than on mobile apps.

“One of the biggest changes happening in customer service right now is in automating the customer experience. Whether it’s after sales support, providing information or launching a rewards program, the idea is to automate as much of the process as possible and to achieve a seamless interaction with customers which is fast, easy, and intuitive. And AI chatbots that engage with customers in two-way communication is the answer to these as it opens a whole new world of possibilities for businesses to build a more interactive and personalised customer experience”, commented Mr. Houti.

Businesses now need to connect with customers through channels they are most active with including messaging applications such as WhatsApp and Facebook messenger, which have surpassed social media applications. Users spend daily more than 3 hours on average on WhatsApp and that’s why it becomes all the more critical that businesses shift their presence to channels which consumers use to engage.

Creating positive interactions with customers using chatbots will be crucial to customer retention and driving sales. Chatbots bridge the gap of how users want to communicate and how organisations are communicating via non-messaging channels. More importantly, they reduce by 90 per cent the communication errors of limited customer-service and the difficulty of handling millions of conversations in parallel.

“VIAFONE Technologies builds chatbots using their advanced drag and drop interface and it automatically gets deployed on the 11 most prominent social media channels. The company’s “Chat2AI” control panel displays analytics as well as a customer heat-map to provide companies with deep learning and insights on customer interaction, with the ability to train the AI for optimum responses”, said Mr. Alessandro Gaffuri, Founder and CEO, CELS Group.

“Opening the doors to the future of customer experience, our ground-breaking Artificial Intelligence makes communication completely natural while reducing the pressure on customer service desks and call centers. The chatbots can work as great communicators; in fact the chatbots that we created for 360 Mall in Kuwait and Mall of The Emirates in Dubai have already received very encouraging responses and won the Gold Award at RECON 2019. The technology allowed the shopping malls to have their customers engaged, communicate with them in real time and provide loyalty and rewards program,”added Mr. Gaffuri.

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