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How a Global Sport and Fitness Retailer Used Conversational AI to Grow Sales and Lower Costs
 — November 29, 2021

At Heyday, we love nothing more than seeing our customers thrive. That’s why we’re proud to talk about the success of global sport and fitness retailer Decathlon UK, which leveraged the conversational AI power of Heyday to help handle unprecedented (but welcome!) growth in e-commerce sales during the Covid-19 disruption. 

Now, with strong automation in place to support sales and customer care efforts at scale, Decathlon UK has future-proofed its e-commerce operations and is positioned for success moving forward. Today the company’s digital assistant, developed in collaboration with Heyday, handles tens of thousands of customer conversations every month. According to data from Meta, 96% of customers were satisfied with their bot interactions in Messenger.

So how did Decathlon UK go from handling relatively few customer interactions on Messenger, to managing much of their CX with automation at scale? Read on…   


Flipping the script


With over 2000 brick-and-mortar stores worldwide, Decathlon is a global provider of sports and fitness equipment, products and apparel for enthusiasts of all ages. In the UK, the company has a significant footprint, with 47 stores and plans to open more locations. But with the emergence of the pandemic in early 2020, the company had to quickly adapt–not only to government restrictions that required the closure of retail stores, but to an explosion of orders on the Decathlon e-commerce site as well. With gyms and fitness centers shuttered, die-hard workout fans quickly pivoted to investing in home fitness equipment, exponentially increasing traffic to Decathlon’s online store.


Good problems… and a great solution


Along with the rapid growth of Decathlon UK’s online orders, however, came a parallel spike in customer inquiries and service requests: between March and May 2020, the brand experienced a 4.5X increase in inbound Messenger requests. It quickly became clear that the company needed a way to manage the unprecedented volume of inquiries without sacrificing the first-class customer experiences the company is known for. 

With the goal of scaling and automating digital customer care capabilities, Decathlon UK turned to Heyday, which was already powering messaging assistance via the company website. Together, Decathlon and Heyday built a conversational AI assistant integrated within Messenger to provide an always-on channel for customers to get quick answers to simple queries.

During the development of the assistant, named DEC, Decathlon UK and Heyday collaborated to create conversational flows that aligned with the retail brand’s preferred tone and style. The partners focused on developing flows designed to answer questions about order tracking, product returns, store locations and hours, product searches and technical support. A ‘handover’ solution was also built-in to allow customers to seamlessly switch to interacting with a live CX agent for more complex or sensitive inquiries.  


Doing numbers


The digital assistant started delivering value as soon as it became available on the site. Customers reported enjoying overwhelmingly positive experiences interacting with the conversational AI, and support costs began falling as more and more customers found the answers they were looking for via automated assistance on Messenger.

Thanks to Heyday’s Natural Language Understanding (NLU) technology, the Decathlon digital assistant could detect over 1000 unique customer intentions and respond with automated answers to sporting-goods related questions. As a result, Decathlon was able to automate 65 percent of customer inquiries as soon as the Messenger customer case channel launched. 

That’s not all. After implementing the digital assistant via Messenger:

 After implementing the digital assistant via Messenge
Over time, Decathlon UK integrated specialty Heyday tools to expand the range of services the retailer provided via Messenger. These included a feature allowing customer care agents to curate personalized shopping carts for customers and share with them via DM, giving a personal touch to the e-commerce experience. Together, these additional tools and services helped to enhance the user experience and drive more sales.


Automation for the win


Today, the Decathlon digital assistant is helping more customers and nurturing more sales opportunities than ever. Between July and September 2021, the conversational AI assistant handled more than 45,000 customer conversations with more than 34,000 unique users. 61 percent of all Decathlon customer conversations took place on Messenger during the same period. 

We wanted to find a way to reduce our cost to serve, while also engaging new customers,” said Charles Guth, Customer Loyalty Team Leader at Decathlon UK. Heyday’s comprehensive customer messaging platform and Messenger provided the right mix of top-notch conversational AI and platform features to boost our human team’s efficiency.”

Read the full Decathlon case study on the Facebook for Developers blog

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