People usually talk to a lot of vendors when they plan weddings, but now David’s Bridal wants to change the nature of those chats with technology, specifically text messaging.
In an announcement on Tuesday, the bridal wear company introduced Zoey, a new concierge service that works through messaging via Apple Business Chat.
Since Apple debuted its business texting service nearly two years ago, numerous partners — from brands like Burberry to retail platforms such as Shopify — have signed on as ways to expand their customer services.
For David’s Bridal, that all hinges on Zoey, the concierge bot at the heart of its service. Zoey’s goal is to make it easier for customers to book appointments, schedule fittings and text live stylists with questions, as well as place orders.
The bet may mean quite a bit for the retailer, which emerged from a restructuring last year after filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Now, David’s Bridal is looking to double down on tech to boost operational efficiencies.
Text messaging has become a major hit among customers, who have made it their preferred way of reaching out to the business. Currently, mobile-based chat accounts for more than 50 percent of its contact center traffic.
“Following the success of introducing the messaging option to our customers, we knew we’d hit on something special,” said Holly Carroll, vice president of customer service and contact center operations at David’s Bridal.
The company previously posted its e-mail address to encourage interactions, but according to Carroll, customer feedback for texting was so positive, the business decided to replace the e-mail with the chat option. That decision was the basis for “[Zoey was] the logical next step to help our customers at every stage of their event journey,” she said.
The retailer managed to shave off inefficiencies. Its contact center saw operating costs drop by more than 30 percent, and saw that 41 percent of customers chose messaging above waiting on hold. It also noted more resolutions upon first contact through text rather than voice, at 90 percent versus 73 percent.
Naturally, a bot-focused approach can shift the pressure from human workers. That’s what the company saw as well, having moved 30 percent of phone traffic for appointment booking away from its brick-and-mortar stores.
Conversational commerce firm LivePerson will manage the Apple Business Chat service for David’s Bridal, thanks to its messaging and voice assistant platform LiveEngage. The system manages a mix of humans and artificial intelligence bots to elevate and scale consumer experiences for retailers and brands.
Likewise, the system behind Zoey isn’t a pure AI play, but a blend of both people and bots. It also takes advantage of more recent updates, like Chat Suggestions in iOS 13.
Apple revealed Chat Suggestions in September as a way to connect consumers with businesses more easily. When users tap to call a supported business, iOS pulls up an option to text the company via Messages.
Zoey will also be able to reach beyond the retailer’s own offerings, connecting to other event planning partners. And it will keep getting better, David’s Bridal promised, as it plans to keep developing and evolving the tool.
Clearly, the company wants Zoey to become a hotline of sorts for stressed brides-to-be. That couldn’t come too soon, considering wedding season will be here in a few short months.