Are you embracing AI solutions? Ikea is

If you are in the home furnishings sector, you know all about Ikea. And whether you see them as a friend or foe, the retailer’s ability for out-of-the-box solutions is undeniable.

I would like to reference one recent initiative as a good example. Ikea is well down the road on a brilliant strategy to train and transform its call center workers into interior design consultants.

But wait … it gets better. While it upskills those call center workers, the retailer is routing routine service calls to a “new employee”—an artificial intelligence bot named Billie.

For the past few years, an Ikea franchisee called Ingka has trained well over 8,000 call center workers to serve as interior design advisers, while AI bot Billie has been said to easily respond to just under half of all the customer queries directed to the call centers over the past two years.

After successful launches in Europe, last April, Ikea rolled out its interior design services both in England and in the U.S.

As a sector that competes for consumers’ disposable income, we need to keep a sharp eye on AI. Heads-up retailers are realizing that AI-fueled automation can handle a myriad of repetitive tasks, including customer support, data analysis, inventory management and more.

As proven by Ikea, AI, particularly with the advent of generative AI, is elevating customer service to new levels of service as generative AI, in addition to providing customer guidance, can also detect emotions, handle complete transactions and eliminate the need for a frustrated shopper to repeatedly scream “representative” into the phone.

As shopper interest in more personal and customized shopping experiences continues to rise, providers such as Salesforce have been quick to respond with products specifically designed to meet that need.

Recently, Salesforce unveiled its new AI Cloud and underlying Einstein GPT tool, noting that this solution was specifically created to allow sales representatives to generate personalized emails that can cater to the unique requirements of their customers.

Even more powerful is that AI-based solutions such as these are empowering customer-service teams to create personalized chat responses able to interact and respond to customer queries across all channels such as mobile, web and email.

As the capabilities of AI continue to expand, those of us in the home furnishings sector — regardless of our capacity — need to embrace artificial intelligence solutions.

To do anything else, well, is just not smart.

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