Conversational AI ingenuity

Challenged to support its 100% year-on-year growth, Woolworths has created a best-in-class customer experience (CX) with artificial intelligence (AI). An ultra-efficient voicebot now handles calls end-to-end — cross-checking over 30,000 products and processing thousands of refunds, order tracking requests and common questions per week. And giving shoppers their choice of channels and engagement resulted in efficiencies and a two-point uplift in Net Promoter Score (NPS).

Thousands of conversations

handled weekly by voicebot

2-point uplift

in NPS

30,000 product

search capability

Automated refunds

processed via AI

Agents freed

to deal with complex queries

Easy enablement

of future self-service tools

We created a smart search feature that recognized over 30,000 products in just three months. So, the customer can simply say ‘the oranges are missing from my order.’ Olive then cross-checks, processes a refund and sends a text confirmation to the customer — all without any human intervention.

Alex Colorado

Engineering Manager, Conversational AI

Woolworths

Growth and CX challenges

Australia’s largest food retailer, Woolworths, serves around 20 million customers a week, including 14 million online shoppers. The retailer faced challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic as it developed digital capabilities while growing at 100% annually.

Woolworths had been using Genesys for many years to successfully manage its voice, email, chat and SMS communications. But when it was faced with a massive increase in customer inquiries, Woolworths needed to scale its service fast — while recognizing that simply hiring more agents wasn’t sufficient.

“Instead, we wanted a better way to support growth while simultaneously enhancing customer experience,” said Luke Hymann, Product Manager, Conversational Commerce at Woolworths.

Conversational AI powers Olive

Many customer inquiries are related to transactional tasks or simple questions about store hours or marketing promotions. Servicing such a high volume of activity was extending call wait times for customers who wanted answers fast. In response, Woolworths built a smart IVR by integrating the Genesys Engage™ on-premises solution with Google Cloud Dialogflow to create Olive, an ultra-efficient voicebot powered by conversational AI.

“Leveraging the open APIs of Genesys, we created a smart search feature that recognized over 30,000 products in just three months,” said Alex Colorado, Engineering Manager, Conversational AI at Woolworths. “So, the customer can simply say ‘the oranges are missing from my order.’ Olive then cross-checks, processes a refund and sends a text confirmation to the customer — all without human intervention.”

Genesys intelligent orchestration provides a seamless transition from self-service to assisted service, reducing handle times and improving the experience. If the caller asks to speak with a person, the IVR system greets them by name, captures their intent, identifies the right queue and routes the caller to the best-placed agent — bypassing normal IVR routing options. And, since the caller is already authenticated, they don’t have to repeat any information. These improvements have also led to a reduction in call transfers.

IVR platform makes self-service scalable

Woolworths now has the flexibility to scale and provide an efficient experience that can keep up with the demands of a fast-growing customer base. “Our smart IVR solution currently services thousands of calls each week,” said Colorado. “This saves our agents time and allows them to better support customers with more complex queries. And it’s much easier to add self-service capabilities using Genesys as an innovation platform.”

We’ve seen a two-point jump in NPS, which shows you can introduce conversational AI without sacrificing the customer experience. This innovation was always about being able to better service customers on the channel of their choice, which for many is still voice.

Luke Hymann

Product Manager, Conversational Commerce

Woolworths

High levels of automation achieved using conversational AI mean staff can spend more time attending to complex, non-standard customer queries. “We’re able to focus agents where they’re needed most, providing quality customer interactions at challenging moments,” added Hymann.

Productivity, service and savings

Olive now handles thousands of self-service conversations per week for refunds, order tracking, opening hours, and answering common questions. “We reduced agent handling and call wait times from the first week of launch,” said Hymann.

“We’ve seen a two-point jump in NPS, which shows you can introduce conversational AI without sacrificing the customer experience,” concluded Hymann. “This innovation was always about being able to better service customers on the channel of their choice, which for many is still voice.”

At a glance

Customer: Woolworths

Industry: Retail

Location: Australia

Contact center: Around 800 agents

Challenges

  • Delivering best-in-class CX while growing 100% annually
  • Inquiry spikes due to the pandemic

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