AI Case Study

Alibaba has reduced customer service staff needs for its marketplace vendors by introducing a chatbot

Alibaba has introduced a text-based chatbot, Dian Xiaomi, which vendors operating on its marketplace platforms vendors can implement. Alibaba claims that AI algorithms are helping to drive internal and customer service operations including smart product and search recommendations: Alibaba’s software tracks customer browsing and interactions with the website to offer product recommendations.

Industry

Consumer Goods And Services

Retail General

Project Overview

"The product was beta-launched during last year’s Alibaba 11.11 Global Shopping Festival to help nine brands, including Apple, Xiaomi, Huawei Honor, Vivo, Semir and Nike, to serve some one million customers.

Through AI, the chatbot can “learn” to improve its responses by using algorithms to interpret millions of customer-service interactions. The bot is capable of understanding context and can converse naturally, unlike customer-service chatbots that are programmed to provide answers only in response to specific questions. In addition to text messages, Dian Xiaomi is also able to respond to questions with images, such as product photos and emojis, to add depth to its answers. It can even make customer-specific recommendations for shoe and clothing sizes and answer technical questions about consumer electronics, such as the data-storage capacity of particular smartphone models.

Merchants can customize Dian Xiaomi by building on the bot’s already extensive product and customer knowledge base, adding information on their own stores, products and promotions. When Dian Xiaomi has difficulty understanding certain types of questions, a system called AI Boost collects and categorizes these questions so that a human “coach” can intervene by either directing the bot to relevant answers in its knowledge base or by adding appropriate answers to the base. In this way, Dian Xiaomi becomes continuously better at understanding customers’ intents and what they are looking for. Merchants can adjust the workload allocated between the chatbot and customer-service staff according the time of day to optimize efficiency. Questions that cannot be settled by Dian Xiaomi are automatically routed to human staff."

Reported Results

"China’s smart phone maker Xiaomi during the 24-hour online sale cut its customer service staff by 300 from 1,000 the previous year while handling the same volume of traffic. Chinese apparel brand Semir, which started using Dian Xiaomi at night but now also runs it during the day, says more than 60 percent of customer enquiries are assigned to the smart customer service."

Technology

Function

Customer Service

Technical And Product Support

Background

"For instance, merchants don’t have enough staff to handle enquiries during rush hours in the daytime nor do they have any staff on duty in the evening. When it comes to big promotions like 11.11, they need to hire a large temporary customer-service crew, yet they are still swamped by the overwhelming volume."

Benefits

Data

"[M]illions of customer service interactions"