TechStyle Fashion Group Handles Volume Spikes with AI-Powered Virtual Agents
Success by the Numbers
- Overwhelming and heavy spikes in call center volume coinciding with billing cycle
- Chat was fastest growing channel
- Wanted a better, easier way to automate more with AI
- Conversational AI Front Door with routing to AI automation or live agent
- Up-front customer data gathering to authenticate members before passing to live agent
- Automating the most common call types and chats with live agent failover
- Saved $1.1 million in one year
- Member satisfaction scores in-line with historical averages from live agents
- 18.5% fewer calls to live agents
- 45 second reduction in average handle times
TechStyle Fashion Group is an innovative fashion e-commerce company that operates brands like JustFab, Fabletics, Fabkids, and ShoeDazzle. Its disruptive subscription model offers five million active members personalized, on-trend style at significant value. However, being a subscription service with 5.5 million calls and 1.5 million chats annually also creates unique challenges for the company that other fashion retailers do not face.
As a subscription service, TechStyle billed members on a monthly basis and found itself vulnerable to volume spikes that came along with the billing cycle. Forecasting and staffing were an ongoing challenge due to these spikes; though they were relatively predictable, it was costly and difficult to staff up each month. TechStyle, a company inspired by innovation and technology, knew that AI-enabled self-service could help dial-in its customer experience and alleviate the monthly staffing challenges they faced. Unfortunately, bringing natural language automation to the contact center is very difficult within the traditional model of expensive and ongoing professional services needed to build a solution that could take a year to build and ultimately may not even work—a high-risk proposition.
TechStyle built a strong partnership with SmartAction, whose cloud-based model seamlessly integrated with their existing systems to help them automate many of the conversations their agents had previously been handling, allowing them to start small then expand.
Contrary to the high cost and ongoing expense of the traditional professional services model, SmartAction’s cloud-based “AI-brain” has been purpose-built for the contact center, with templates that support every industry and pre-built components that service hundreds of call types and chats from order management to roadside assistance. This made it quick and easy for TechStyle to implement natural language understanding with zero professional services within an affordable, predictable per-minute-usage model. After customizing SmartAction’s proprietary “AI-brain” to support TechStyle’s specific needs, TechStyle was able to introduce AI automation sooner than expected. Since every SmartAction solution includes a suite of services and benefits as part of the per-minute-usage, TechStyle now has a dedicated team of CX experts who provides ongoing customization, tuning, and enhancements to the application for improved process and containment over time.
TechStyle first implemented a conversational AI front door to start every call and chat with, “How can I help you today?” instead of the lengthy and archaic phone tree menu that frustrates customers. From there, if members want to check on the status of an order, manage their account, or ask a billing question—typically the most common inquiries—they remain in AI automation to complete their task with live agent failover if needed. For more difficult requests, AI automation handles the up-front data gathering then passes off to a live agent to eliminate the repetitive drudgery and shorten agent handle times.
“Any benchmark we created would have been easily surpassed. By partnering with SmartAction, we feel confident to say we are in good hands.” – Mike Gamez, GMS Member Solutions Manager
As a result, TechStyle was able to save $1.1 million in just one year, calculated using agent reduction, AHT decrease, and containment improvement. AI-enabled self-service helped manage and reduce large call volumes, with a 45 second reduction in average handling times and 18.5% fewer calls to live agents. Because SmartAction is automating the top drivers of inbound volume (order status, membership management, and billing), TechStyle agents are able to focus on high value engagements that require empathy, upselling, or fashion advice – truly human things that automation cannot provide. It has also helped increase containment without sacrificing member satisfaction scores. TechStyle loves that they have been able to offer AI self-service in a truly omnichannel way, which includes voice and chat.