With the promise of improved efficiency, deeper insights, and richer customer experiences, artificial intelligence (AI) has captured the imaginations of companies across all industries — and ecommerce is no exception.
But how can ecommerce companies cut through the hype to implement AI in ways that deliver true business value? We spoke with Joe Ciuffo, former Director of Product Marketing at Gladly, to debunk popular AI misconceptions and outline a blueprint for using it to unlock success while avoiding common pitfalls.
#1: AI Is a Magic Wand That Provides Instant Value
Joe Ciuffo (JC): Many think AI is a simple plug-and-play technology that will immediately solve the problems plaguing companies’ customer service teams, all while providing major cost savings. An example of this is Intercom. On their website and in their marketing, Intercom promises that 50% of your conversations are automatically solved once you turn on their AI feature — but that’s probably not true.
That’s because AI in ecommerce is not an out-of-the-box magic wand; it’s simply another tool. To reap its benefits, companies will need to invest time and effort in training, testing, and learning.
Gladly pro tip: While it offers immense potential, managing expectations around AI is essential — ecommerce leaders need to recognize that it takes strategic planning, resources, and persistence to achieve ROI from AI over the long term. Start by clarifying if your brand is ready to use AI in your customer service before reaching out to potential AI partner providers.
#2: AI in Ecommerce Will Replace Human Support Agents
JC: There is a fear among customer service agents that AI will make their jobs obsolete. The truth is that rather than a total replacement, AI will enhance what agents can accomplish. For example, AI can analyze customer data to identify pain points for the customer service team to focus on.
Gladly pro tip: Companies must educate staff on how AI can support them to reduce anxiety about job replacement. One way to do this is by making AI tangible — this means tying it to business goals and jobs that need to be done. For example, if a business goal is to reduce customers’ overall wait time, a job for agents might be to help them quickly process returns. If this task is taking too long and detracting from the team’s ability to fulfill their goals, CX leaders can show agents how AI can assist them in tackling these basic requests.
Even better, you could include support staff in the implementation and prototyping of new AI tools. For example, ecommerce companies can involve customer service agents in identifying which tasks AI can take on. This collaboration allows them to foster an understanding of AI’s capabilities and alleviate their anxiety.
#3: Implementing AI in Ecommerce Requires Massive Investment
JC: Given AI’s robust capabilities, many assume that implementing AI-powered features requires huge budgets. However, the democratization of AI in recent years has made this technology more accessible than ever.
Gladly pro tip: Don’t be afraid to start exploring what your company can do with AI. With tools like Hero AI from Gladly, growing teams can easily pilot this technology to address pain points and deliver value before making a larger investment.
#4: AI Puts Your Customer Data at Risk
JC: Concerns about how AI in ecommerce impacts customer data privacy are valid — as companies add new AI capabilities, they’re starting to collect much more data at a more intimate level. That said, there are different ways to address this. Gladly, for example, is SOC 2 certified, meaning our overall systems meet specific criteria for security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. Gladly also has an agreement with OpenAI where they can’t use customer data gathered from our AI-powered tools, Sidekick and Hero AI, to train their AI model.
Gladly pro tip: With comprehensive security certifications and protocols, you can protect customer data. Before implementing AI in ecommerce, companies should review and audit their technology’s compliance, data governance, consent processes, and encryption.
#5: AI Is Only Useful for Automating Simple, Repetitive Tasks
JC: Another common misconception around AI’s use in ecommerce is that it can only handle basic functions and granular use cases, like processing refunds or address changes. But AI can do that – and much more. For example, it can understand how two pieces of software in your tech stack interact and generate code around that, ultimately eliminating the need for extensive integrations.
Gladly pro tip: AI makes it easier for agents who love helping customers to get the data they need and make the changes they want. With the right strategic approach, AI can drive significant innovations in more ways than just basic automation.
Gladly Sidekick offers a way to infuse AI into everyday self-service interactions to act as a baseline for customers to solve their own issues as much as possible. Hand-in-hand with Hero AI, support centers have the power of exemplary, state-of-the-art support that makes solutions to complex problems only a few clicks away.
Is Your Company Ready for AI?
With the right approach involving setting proper expectations, engaging with customer service teams, and ensuring customer data privacy, companies can overcome challenges and start delivering the benefits of AI to their customers.
While the first step to reaping the benefits of AI is understanding these common misconceptions, other factors determine whether your organization is ready for AI. Use our AI Readiness Checklist to evaluate whether now is the right time to implement this technology.
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