Very investment pays off as AI chatbot leads the way

veryOnline shopping group Very.co.uk has hailed the implementation of its machine-learning chatbot after the investment in AI has led to the platform becoming its most used customer service channel.

Originally launched in 2017, the retailer has been expanding the chatbot, dubbed Very Assistant, by developing its capabilities ever since; it now reportedly answers more than 268,000 customer queries a month.

In September 2020, the online retailer launched the chatbot on its website, moving the AI assistant outside its app for the first time, and the company claims this has seen inbound customer service reduce by 23%.

Very’s customer care director Mark Billingham said: “Our customers love the convenience of the chatbot. It’s always accessible, helpful for a wide range of service queries, and means many of our customers don’t need to contact us.

“With more customer service questions being answered by our chatbot, our advisors are focusing on dealing with the more complex queries over the phone. This has helped us as we’ve seen customer numbers grow over the last 12 months.

“Because the chatbot is powered by AI, it learns and becomes more effective every time it interacts with our customers. It’s one of the ways we’re investing to improve the digital experience for our 4.5 million customers.”

The company has a rich home shopping heritage, and can trace its roots back nearly 100 years to the launch of the UK mail order giants, including Littlewoods, the Liverpool pools and retail group founded by John Moores, as well as Great Universal Stores and Kays Catalogues.

It was created following the 2003 Barclay brothers’ buyout, and initially became Littlewoods Shop Direct; it launched Very.co.uk in 2007 and took the name the Very Group in January last year.

The company now describes itself as “the UK’s largest pureplay digital retailer” and financial services provider, with annual revenues of £2bn and over four million customers.

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