AI Anna Delivers Fashionable Interactions for JustFab Callers

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A customer named Princess is winding up her call to online subscription retailer JustFab. She’s successfully canceled her current order. “Thanks Anna,” Princess says cheerfully, before signing off.

The thing is, Princess knows Anna is an automated virtual assistant. Anna introduced herself at the beginning of the call. “I’m Anna, a fashion consultant,” she said. “I understand complete sentences so talk to me like a person. What can I help you with today?”

Yet Princess, pleased to have her needs quickly dealt with, thanked her by name before she ended the call.

JustFab, which sells women’s shoes, boots, handbags, and clothing online, began using AI Anna, an artificial intelligence–­powered speech technology system, about one year ago, says Dan Fox, director of business development at Interactions. The speech and natural language technology company, based in Franklin, Mass., worked with JustFab to ensure Anna met the online subscription retailer’s unique needs.

In the year since Anna’s been on the job, JustFab saw a 35 percent improvement in call containment. That means Anna was able to resolve 35 percent of the 7 million (and growing) calls the retailer receives each year.

“That’s a tremendous source of labor-cost savings,” Fox says.

JustFab’s customer satisfaction rates have risen over the past year as well, which the retailer especially noted during the seasonal upticks in calls. In fact, Princess’s call with Anna lasted one minute, 20 seconds.

“If I were calling any other retailer, I probably wouldn’t have even been on the phone to an agent in that amount of time,” Fox says.

JustFab receives monthly and seasonal spikes in call volume, mostly due to the way its online subscription model works. Based on their preferences, the retailer’s more than 1 million subscribers are matched with a variety of shoes, clothing, and handbags each month. Between the first and the fifth day of the month, they can skip the monthly payment, which they often do by calling the retailer directly. If customers don’t skip the month, they’re charged $39.99 on the sixth of the month and can use the payment to buy items on the site.

Obviously, call volume increases the first five days of any month. And many of those calls are from subscribers who want to skip that month’s payment or who ask other easy-to-answer questions. Executives at JustFab knew that by automating its system, the retailer could cut labor costs—many of those callers wouldn’t need to speak with a live customer service agent, Fox says.

And by designing the automated system to promptly and accurately interact with callers, JustFab knew it could also increase caller satisfaction. Transactions could be handled quickly without the need to wait for the dreaded “next available agent,” he adds.

“About 30 to 40 percent of call volumes to JustFab were repeatable call types,” he says. “A lot of people are calling because they need help skipping a month, or they’re updating their profile information on the CRM system, or checking on their order, or they may just want to cancel their orders.

“Those transactions don’t add value,” Fox adds. “You want to be helping customers when they’re in need, who are asking questions like, ‘What color are those boots exactly? I can’t tell exactly on the website.’”

The cloud-based conversational virtual assistant Interactions created for JustFab identifies callers based on their phone numbers and greets them by name. With Anna, customers can speak in their own words; the system accurately recognizes words and phrases via its adaptive understanding technology, Fox says.

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