"Cami" Boosts Customer Engagement at Dixons Carphone

Dixons Carphone is a major electronics retailer that is based in the UK but employs many people over 11 different countries. Dixons Carphone provides consumers with products and services that help them lead seamlessly connected lives at home, in the office, and on the move. Similar to most retailers, Dixons Carphone has had to adapt to modern consumer buying patterns by incorporating a larger amount of online product research and shopping. In fact, 90% of their customers start their shopping in some way or form online, and an astounding 65% use their phones to assist them while shopping in-store.



Dixons Carphone partnered with Microsoft with aims to find better ways to increase customer engagement as well as ways to better optimize employee time spent with customers, they determined that AI was the answer. Specifically, Dixons Carphone investigated the capabilities of the Microsoft Bot Framework and Microsoft Cognitive Services in the context of customer interactions. The Bot Framework helps companies build, test and deploy intelligent bots capable of interacting with customers in a conversational way, working in tandem with Cognitive Services, a collection of intelligent APIs hosted on Azure that provide the underlying language and image recognition capabilities that power the bots.

After contemplating and brainstorming a personality and persona for their bot, Dixons Carphone decided on "Cami" with a mildly geeky and confident personality. Cami, for the time being, accepts questions (as text-based input) as well as pictures of products’ in-store shelf labels to check stock status, using the Cognitive Services Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS) for conversational abilities and the Computer Vision API to process images.

Dixons Carphone will also be putting Cami to use in order to help employees in their day-to-day responsibilities, for example, in doing stock checks. In addition, the research done in conjunction with Microsoft showed that when shopping in store, customers who researched a product online (as far as things like stock level) are frustrated by the fact that when they get into the store they must start from scratch through store employees. Cami helps bridge that gap through a "Wishlist" feature. As customers add items to their Wishlist, Cami saves the search criteria they used and store colleagues can pull up that information in-store to see what the customer was looking for, leading to a much more efficient shopping process.

When Dixons Carphone goes live with the use of Cami, they will use the Cognitive Services Text Analytics APIAzure Application Insights, and Power BI dashboard to review which products customers are looking at, the sentiment of their interactions, and the questions they are asking. Understanding the questions that customers are asking and analyzing their interactions with the bot will help the company improve their communications and messaging as well.

Arvato Bertelsmann Protects Online Merchants from E-Commerce Fraud

An estimated 70 percent of online sellers in Germany have suffered fraud attempts, but only 14 percent of them use any safeguards today. Even though merchants are aware of the dangers of e-commerce fraud and the solutions available to protect themselves, they lack the resources to be able to manage the risk efficiently. On top of this, hackers quickly adapt their fraudulent ways and as a result, whatever solutions are put in place must adapt as well.

Arvato Financial Solutions, an integrated financial services provider, offers vital services around e-commerce safety for some 2,000 odd customers. One of eight divisions of Bertelsmann – the German media, services, and education giant – Arvato has recently partnered with Microsoft, inovex GmbH (a cloud and big data specialist), and a few of Arvato’s e-commerce customers with aims to create a fraud detection solution using Microsoft’s big data and machine learning offerings.

Through the combination of Azure services with the open-source Storm and Hadoop frameworks, Arvato built an integrated cloud-based solution that uses a modern lambda architecture to process massive data quantities using both batch and stream processing. The batch path transforms existing data using Hadoop, then, by applying machine learning algorithms, the solution develops self-learning analytical models from past fraud cases, for early recognition of any new fraudulent approaches. The stream-processing path captures incoming real-time transaction data via Azure Event Hubs. It then analyzes the data with the assistance of Storm and Azure Machine Learning to uncover fraudulent activities as they happen.

An important goal of the project was to visualize and monitor the models, and Power BI serves this function by displaying data sets drawn directly from cloud sources, Azure HDInsight and SQL Database, on several large screens in Arvato’s monitoring center.

Avato’s investment in good cloud design is paying for itself, helping the company reliably fulfill SLAs using cloud services. Their flexible architecture enables rapid deployment, which is key for fraud recognition in an international e-commerce setting. Using Microsoft machine learning on big data, Avato has created an innovative e-commerce fraud recognition solution and built the basis for innovative financial BPO services based on Microsoft Azure.


Buy or Bye? Why Customer Service is Increasingly Key to Retail Success

By Tricia Morris as written on https://community.dynamics.com
Today’s retail customer is always shopping around - in store, online, on the phone. And in a 24/7 global marketplace where it’s becoming increasingly difficult for retailers to differentiate on price and product availability, more and more it’s becoming customer service and the customer experience that means the difference between buy, buy, buy and bye, bye, bye.
For customers, expectations are up. According to Microsoft’s Global Multichannel Customer Service Report:
•more than half (59%) of the 4,000 consumers surveyed have higher expectations for customer service today than they did a year ago.
•97% say customer service is important to their choice of or loyalty to a brand.
•and 62% have stopped doing business with a brand this year due to a single poor customer service experience.
Yet, despite these increasing expectations, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, customer satisfaction is on the decline from a survey high set two years ago. Some attribute this to the economy, theorizing that brands were putting more focus on customer service then when consumers were spending less and every dollar meant more.
But now that consumer spending has rebounded, service is starting to fall back as a lesser focus instead of springing forward – a point of relaxation that could prove costly as PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Retailing 2020 report raises the stakes for the future of retail:
“By 2020, we believe the need for a unified consumer omnichannel experience will be complicated by the need for nearly perfect execution,” predicts PwC. “However, expert use of business intelligence tools, coupled with a profound understanding of shoppers’ needs and experiences in real time, may make omnichannel a realistic goal.”

Are We There Yet?

Where do customers think retailers are right now with their omnichannel goals? According to the TimeTrade State of Retail 2016 report, not very far. Only 26% of consumers feel that retailers today are providing a consistent customer experience across all channels (web, email, social media, call center, in-store, mobile and text).
And a historically strong service hub seems to be causing a major disconnect. Fifty-one percent (51%) of consumers said that the call center was the channel they felt was doing the poorest in terms of customer service compared to 26% in store, 23% social, 21% text, 20% web, 19% kiosk and 18% email. (According to the same report, only 5% of retail decision makers are making the call center a top priority in channel improvements. Social media was actually the top channel priority in this survey.)

Getting There…

So how can retailers go from where they are and how consumers perceive them today toward that 2020 vision of omnichannel consistency? Here are three areas of focus:
1.Awareness: Not just collecting Voice of the Customer feedback, but reacting to it and acting upon it is key to retailers moving forward. Many brands are doing this today as a way to turn the corner and improve.
2.Accessible knowledge for both agents and customers: Investment in a consistent knowledge source that can be used to deliver real-time knowledge both internally across agents and employees and externally to customers across channels, devices and locations is a must-have investment for an omnichannel future, not just for retail, but for all industries.
3.Proactive, predictive, personalized insights and intelligence: Empowering customer service with the insights to acknowledge and react to trending issues and then proactively reach out to customers across channels with information could not only significantly increase customer satisfaction, but radically change and assist the call center by reducing historic volume, strain and frustration. Greater customer intelligence that is many times shared only between sales and marketing could also help service lead the way in more personalized engagement when it matters most for retention.
The same PwC report says “Retail brands in 2020, we believe, will have three key attributes: consistency, intensity and accuracy. Let’s bring service into the mainstream to help deliver on this 2020 omnichannel customer experience vision.
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