Are Automated Customer Services Boosting Retail Sales? 

Over a third of retailers see few follow-up sales after digital interaction

Author: Monica Melton

August 9, 2017

Digital tools that streamline customer service can be a boon for brands and customers alike, but their benefits don't appear to include widespread follow-up sales.

According to a July 2017 survey of US brands and marketers by artificial intelligence (AI) software provider DeviceBits, the largest share of respondents (36%) said few customers went on to make a purchase following online customer care interactions such as live chat, self-support or automated response materials.

Online customer service tools did have a more pronounced effect for about four in 10 respondents, with 30% saying about half of their customers went on to make a follow-up purchase, and 9% seeing most of their customers doing the same.

DeviceBits found nearly one-quarter of respondents weren't yet tracking the success of their online customer care efforts, so actual effectiveness could be somewhat better or worse.

While online customer service tools aren't necessarily widespread sales generators, the study did find they were popular with consumers. More than six in 10 US internet users surveyed said they prefer automated responses through chat, social media or email to resolve their customer care issues—making it the top channel.

In that light, online customer care's modest ability to spur additional sales would appear to be related more to the quality of companies' offerings than a dislike of the idea of online customer care itself.

Photo by Thomas Lefebvre on Unsplash