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02/07/2022

Harry Rosen Shares How To Employ AI as a Member of the Workforce

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Senior Editor
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Harry Rosen
Canadian menswear retailer Harry Rosen, Inc. has 14 namesake stores, three outlet stores, and two e-commerce sites.

For Canadian menswear retailer Harry Rosen, making artificial intelligence (AI) part of the workforce has generated many benefits, but it took looking past preconceived notions of what great customer service is to get there.

Harry Rosen has been in business since 1954, and the luxury menswear curator has been “entrenched and focused on customer service since day one,” executive vice president of digital & strategyIan Rosentells RIS. From its humble beginnings in East Toronto, when a rolodex packed with important customer data was its CRM system, to now spanning 14 namesake stores, three outlet stores, and two e-commerce sites (harryrosen.com and shopfinalcut.com), the retailer is “always looking to over-deliver.”

Being such a service-oriented company, Rosen says, “the idea of throwing that over to the machines is almost like a yucky way of thinking about it. How could it even be in the conversation when we’re so ‘good’ at this?”

But when he joined the company four years ago, Rosen noticed there was a lot of administration work taking away from the retailer’s customer care team. The retailer mapped out how many manual things the team was handling, and the result was “pretty shocking,” he says.

To overcome this, the retailer looked for partners that had deep integrations with existing customer service agent desks. Enter Netomi’s AI-powered chat and email bots, which integrate within Zendesk, Harry Rosen’s customer service agent desk platform. Today, Netomi's virtual agents essentially sit alongside Harry Rosen's human agents, but it took a little while to get there.

“We were looking for technology that was not trying to replace the individual, just make their life easier,” notes Rosen.
Ian Rosen, EVP of digital & strategy, Harry Rosen

“We’ve worked with Harry Rosen since November 2020,” Puneet Mehta, CEO of Netomi, tells RIS. We started out by triaging tickets to understand a customer’s need and urgency, so we could get a customer in the right agent’s hands as quickly as possible. We then assisted agents with suggestions and the Netomi AI is now a part of their workforce, interacting directly with customers to resolve tickets on email and chat.”

“We were looking for technology that was not trying to replace the individual, just make their life easier,” notes Rosen.

Netomi integrated with Harry Rosen’s back-end systems to provide more effective resolutions to things such as order status and cancellations, account updates, exchanges, and alterations. “We’re now deflecting over 70% of tickets on chat and the bot is at 95.63% accuracy,” says Mehta.

However, like with most new technologies, there were growing pains to overcome. One of which was “getting people comfortable that they have to train this thing to do its best,” says Rosen. “It’s not going to come in and save the day on day one. We had to really emphasize how valuable and important catching the issues were early on, so we could solve some of these customer journey gaps.

“It’s a different mindset for somebody who’s being told ‘hey this AI tool is going to come in help you,’ but then its first five, six, seven interactions with it are ‘hey it’s doing everything wrong right now.’”

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Harry Rosen is deflecting over 70% of tickets on chat.

But a few months down the road, when the AI was trained and working, the value was clear to the associates, he notes, and now they proactively look for ways to train the AI. Today, the chatbot is available on both the FinalCut and Harry Rosen websites and is tailored to know where each customer is coming from.

“Across industries, customer service tickets are only expected to rise this year,” says Mehta. “It will be the retailers like Harry Rosen that have brought AI into the workforce that will maintain, and even grow, customer satisfaction and trust, as support teams come under even more pressure.”

“In 2020 we threw bodies at the problem” when customers moved to shopping online during the pandemic — notes Rosen, but that was an expensive way to handle the increased volume. This past holiday season, “we didn’t add a body,” thanks to the implementation with Netomi. And turnaround time on tickets is down to just hours now.

“It’s allowed our agents to focus on what to do best,” he says. “The impact has been significant.”