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Best Buy AI Tools Aim to Make In-Home Services More Efficient

In Technology
April 09, 2024

(Bloomberg) — Best Buy Co. is tapping artificial intelligence to speed up and reduce the number of in-home visits, part of the company’s efforts to use the technology to streamline operations.

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The retailer said Tuesday that it is introducing tools in the coming months that will be powered by generative AI and aim to make customer service faster and more efficient. These include virtual assistants that can help customers with tasks such as order delivery and scheduling, as well as functions designed to simplify work for Best Buy employees at stores and call centers.

Best Buy has struggled with declining sales following a pandemic-era bump when consumers upgraded electronics and home appliances. It’s working to reverse that slump as consumer-electronics demand returns, and executives have said they are sharpening their focus on improving customer experiences and personalization in stores and online. The company is already using AI for functions like routing home delivery and installation services.

AI technologies can help Best Buy better predict and fix issues for customers, said Brian Tilzer, chief digital, analytics and technology officer at Best Buy, translating to fewer and shorter in-home visits. This will give employees more time to work on complex problems, he said, adding that the retailer has built these technologies with feedback from shoppers and staff.

“We heard for years from customers, ‘If you can fix the dishwasher on a first visit that would be amazing,’” said Tilzer. “Now we can solve these problems.”

For example, the new virtual assistant can help set up delivery windows and share instructions for troubleshooting appliance issues, among other tasks. Best Buy employees will be able to use new tools to gauge customer sentiment or find internal resources more easily.

Best Buy is working with Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Accenture Plc to create the new tools.

The rollout of AI technologies is in the early days for the retail sector. Companies want to use them to better engage with customers and make operations run more smoothly. Maplebear Inc., which operates as Instacart, offers a generative AI-powered search on its mobile app that aims to answer questions related to grocery shopping. Walmart Inc. launched a generative AI tool on its mobile app, which allows shoppers to search for products by specific use.

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