Staples’ “That Was Easy” red button is so irresistible, you probably can’t stop yourself from pushing the thing when you see one. The button rewards you by cheerfully chirping the ubiquitous Staples’ tagline. Don’t you wish you had one of them in front of you now?

 

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With the advent of chat bots, that button can do much more while keeping life as easy as before. Staples now allows retailers to press the button to re-order common items or get updates on an delivery status or a return. According to Ryan Bartley, the Director of Mobile for Staples, chatbots are just part of the retailer’s larger strategy of automating their ordering and customer support with artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“In the last year we’ve been testing using the button to let customers connect with customer service reps at Staples. And now we are we are testing a mixture of both bot and real person. We think using natural language to make requests and get what you want will soon be mainstream,” says Bartley.

Training the bots is no easy feat. Right now, bots do their best to understand customer requests, but often have to hand customers off to live human agents when queries become too complicated. However the bot apprentices under the human agent, listening in on how the conversation is resolved. Over time, this learning method teaches bots to better understand and service a greater variety of customer needs.

Staples also has a Staples Facebook Messenger bot which has helped the retailer better understand their customers better. “We’re interacting with them on a whole different level now, which raises our social awareness and theirs,” explains Faisal Masud, Executive Vice President of Global eCommerce at Staples. Many customer questions are quite typical – such as “where’s my stuff?” or “how do I return this?” – which can be automated and answered instantaneously by Staples’ bot.

 

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Have you used either Staples’ Easy Button or the Staples Facebook Messenger bot? Let us know what you think in the comments below.