Chatbot & Human-to-Human Transition

Rich Hultman
Senior UX Manager – Services & Strategic Growth Office
Best Buy

To be discussed:

  • Chatbot benefits for a decade-old chat application, and how these sessions provide agents with improved customer interactions.
  • The right mix for human hand-off and user expectations 
  • The importance of channel expertise, automated handling, information collection and session data transfer. 
  • Customers’ level of emotional investment based on the assistance and discovery they require at point of contact
  •  Other topics covered: experience and business objectives, user experience design, customer safari and learned journey, channels and context, users’ emotional Investment, human-to-virtual agent interaction, user testing chat
Watch Rich Hultman’s full presentation here

Speaker bio 

Rich Hultman is a UX professional with over 20 years experience leading the design and implementation of online experiences for some of the world’s top brands, including Best Buy, Target, General Electric, Thomson Reuters, Motorola, 3M, McGraw-Hill, and Sprint. 

He currently leads Best Buys’ UX Services Team increasing online revenue through user experiences such as chat, scheduling, service estimators, product configurators and self-serve repair.

Many of his projects originate from Best Buy’s Strategic Growth Team and have had a significant impact on Best Buy’s evolution and growth in the services sector.


Best Buy’s remote chat experience has been around for ten years. The goal of the application is to allow customers to chat and receive technical support and repair online. The chat has serviced hundreds of thousands of customers 24/7/365. 

The Geek Squad interface page on the Best Buy website gets about 450,000 views a month. There are about 2,000 searches in the search bar just for chat alone.

Chat interactions 

The chatbot allows customers to self serve so that Best Buy knows why you’re coming. 

Once you’ve connected, remote chat allows an agent to triage a customer’s issue via a conversation, then offer options for appropriate remote repair service. Services can also be purchased here; a total tech support plan can be purchased through this application. An agent can remotely access your computer and make necessary repairs. 

  • Problem: about 60 percent of people who come to this page are looking for other things, like store hours or order status. The first order of business is: how can we deflect this traffic? In UX, deflection is called “routing.” 

Chatbot experience objectives: 

  • Shorter interaction time for customers: create automated and informative logic trees to give users the answers they want at their pace, without having to wait and engage with an agent. 
  • Self-help: customers who have basic needs are looking for quick answers without an emotional investment with a real person. When needs arise in their journey, complex tasks may be solved; the live agent escape hatch provides comfort and easy access. Customers don’t want to feel like a live rep will try to sell them something. 
  • Help agents become informed: agents can access the system as a knowledge hub; they can increase first-call resolution (FCR) and reduce average handle time (AHT). 
  • Efficiency and deflection: chat repair channels filter and redirect traffic to the appropriate service help. For example, a customer who is looking for assistance with an order but is in a computer support chat channel can now access their profile history through routing links. 

What business operations need from chatbots and humans: 

  • Reduce the percentage of non-qualified technical support traffic (see the 60% statistic above).
  • Route customers to the proper channel for a better chat experience.

Data from agents reveal the primary three areas of non-technical support traffic: 

  • store hours (without having to search extensively) 
  • order status (Best Buy can show you your latest order right in Chat)
  • My Account/Rewards

Navigation for chatbots is also a chance to promote little-known services. For instance, most customers don’t realize that Best Buy also sells car electronics. 

Engineering and UX collaboration

Behind the scenes, Best Buy teams work closely together to identify chat topics:

  • identify topics based on analytics and business input to determine how to serve traffic coming in through the remote chat channel. For example, store hours, order status, as seen above. 
  • When you type in “computer help:” 
  • Upon selecting “computer help,” the chatbot presents computing options.
  • The most common options for services are presented based on useability testing, analytics and research. 
  • Selecting Technical Support or Live Chat provides a connection with a live agent. 
  • Once you tap into a live agent: Clicking “Live Agent” sends the interaction path to the live agent, so there’s a starting point for relevant conversation. 

The second chat application: “chat for shopping” 

In the past, Best Buy’s shopping chat interface was a distinct experience, separate from Remote Support Chat. The goal was to unify the two experiences as well as centers for operations: Customer Care Agents and Geek Squad Agents. 

Now, the shopping chat experience also provides contextualized content for users. They can toggle back and forth among the choices. 

Focusing on the “the human element” in the Best Buy brand. 

  • Using the word “hello” on the top bar. 
  • Working on the most effective chat response. For instance, when clicking on “Appliance Help,” the chatbot surfaces a library of Buying Guide options. At one time, these guides were difficult to find. Now, they are easy to locate due to this new interface. Best Buy found a way to get customers to them. 
  • People are able to “like” features as they go through the process (using emojis provided). 

Bottom line: document your own journeys as you develop your chatbot programs. Understand the path.

Tags   •   Retail


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