- David's Bridal, the wedding-gown chain that emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year, this week introduced a chat-based service that automates customer service requests and can put people in touch with a stylist for more personalized service. The Zoey concierge bot works through Apple Business Chat, per an announcement.
- A video demonstration of Zoey shows how iPhone users can book an appointment at a nearby store, process a return, check order statuses or find other help. Customers can tap to directly text with a stylist and get quick answers to questions or place secure orders, according to the announcement.
- David's Bridal is also using the "chat suggestions" feature that Apple added to iOS 13 in September. The tool lets users skip a hold when they call David's Bridal customer service and immediately start a Business Chat conversation with Zoey. The bridal wear chain worked with global conversational commerce solutions provider LivePerson on the chat-based service.
David's Bridal is reinventing itself for the mobile age as consumers show a growing preference to interact with businesses through chat services. In switching voice calls to messaging, the bridal wear chain cut contact center operating costs by more than 30% as 41% of customers opted to use the messaging service rather than wait on hold, according to the press release. David's Bridal also shifted 30% of appointment booking phone traffic out of stores, giving employees more time to focus on serving customers in-person. The chat service also helped to resolve 90% of customer requests on first contact, compared with 73% through voice.
The "chat suggestions" feature in Apple Business Chat helps to drive adoption of the Zoey chatbot, making it comparable to chat services that are becoming more common on websites. About one-fourth (28%) of consumers said they usually try website chat first for general customer service issues, slightly less than the 31% of people who try a phone call first, according to a study commissioned by call-center software maker Aircall. Because long wait times for customer service are one of the most common complaints among consumers, automating simple tasks like appointment booking can help to speed up service, as David's Bridal has found.
Retailers can expect to cut customer service costs about $439 million a year by 2023 as chatbots use artificial intelligence to handle a broader range of tasks, per an estimate by Juniper Research. The researcher forecast that retail sales from chatbot-based interactions will soar to $112 billion by 2023 from $7.3 billion in 2018 as their capabilities improve.
David's Bridal is the latest company to add Apple Business Chat to customer service, which the iPhone maker introduced in 2018. Business Chat lets Apple users connect to businesses through its Messages app that comes preinstalled on millions of iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches. The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) last year let fans order food and drinks through its Olly virtual assistant that was integrated with Business Chat. Companies including 1-800-Flowers, Discover, Hilton, The Home Depot, Lowe's, Marriott and Wells Fargo were among the first major brands to offer Business Chat for customer service.