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The Journey to AI – Real Business Cases Brands Are Testing Today


AI has become an integral part of the modern business landscape, with some brands already leveraging its power to transform their operations. In a recent Gladly Connect Live 2024 panel, CX leaders from three brands — Rothy’s, Breeze Airways, and BSN Sports — discuss their journey into AI adoption, the business cases they’re testing, and the diverse strategies they’re implementing for AI. The results so far? Reduced CX costs, higher efficiency, and an enhanced customer experience.

How Rothy’s’ Lauren Inman-Semerau Is Using AI to Reduce Costs and Keep the Customer Experience On-Brand

Lauren Inman-Semerau, Head of Customer Experience at Rothy’s, considers the rise of AI to be an excellent opportunity for innovation within the customer service space: “We always knew AI was coming — [Rothy’s] is excited about what AI can do for customer service and the company as a whole. [So I figure], let’s try something fun, let’s play, let’s figure it out. Customer service is a good and safe base for companies to use AI.”

As for one of the primary reasons she’s using AI?

“[We want to use] AI to absorb costs at scale,” says Lauren. “What do I actually want to pay people to do? [Sure, there’s] the KPIs — how to reduce average handle time, cost per contact, etcetera — but for me, the bigger thing is, how do I want to use my existing agents who I am paying?”

Lauren believes that AI can not only help reduce labor costs by taking over the tedious, mundane tasks but can also generate more revenue by creating free time to nurture and train her agents to become brand ambassadors, bring the in-store experience to life, and grow additional skills including upselling.

That’s what brought Lauren and Rothy’s to Gladly Sidekick — our consumer-facing AI solution that enables data-rich, personalized self-service experiences across channels.

“For us, we have a big-picture vision at Rothy’s. If you’ve ever been to [one of our] retail stores, they’re well curated; they reflect the brand. Our agents are called brand ambassadors. I work really hard to have those ambassadors bring that brand experience to life. For me, AI is allowing my brand ambassadors to do that at a deeper level.”

“All of that low-hanging fruit, get it done — get it out to the queue. AI can do that while I’m working to upscale the rest of the agents so they can have deep knowledge of the product, start to sell, and surprise and delight…I want [my brand ambassadors] to be revenue generators and product experts.”

Lauren also credits AI for keeping the customer experience on-brand. “Before Sidekick, I wasn’t interested in anything — I didn’t see any bot I liked until Sidekick. We could have done a widget with our social vendor, but it couldn’t give branded answers…it was doing a good job learning, but it was hard to get the brand tone and voice [right].”

Key Takeaways from Rothy’s

  • Innovate with AI: Embrace AI as an opportunity for innovation in customer service, not just as a cost-saving measure.
  • Empower agents: Free up agent time with AI to focus on becoming brand ambassadors, enhancing in-store experiences, and developing upselling skills.
  • Drive revenue: Maximize the potential of agents by transforming them into revenue generators and product experts through AI-driven efficiency.

Learn more: Reducing Customer Service Costs With AI

How Breeze Airways’ Danny Cox Is Using AI and Agents to Create a Cohesive Customer Experience

Danny A. Cox, VP of Guest Experience at Breeze Airways, is always ready for the unpredictable. However, he is also a firm believer in taking it slow, especially when it comes to new technology and the broader effects it could have on the organization and customers by extension. “[My team wasn’t sure how to use AI], but we wanted to be ready for it. We intentionally did not explore it [early on] because we wanted to see what our guests were asking about. AI was always going to be the ‘end,’ but we wanted to first give it a good base to machine learn off the Breeze tone instead of a general tone. And so we always knew we wanted to use it at some point in time.”

The outcome or goal that Danny is looking for in AI is rooted in what the customer wants — to save time and create memorable, empathetic experiences so that the company stays true to its slogan: Seriously Nice.

“We’re using Sidekick and guided AI…our end goal is [to create] conversations that feel like intelligence,” says Danny. “For repeat things, what can we do to make it feel intelligent for the guest? Reserve guest empowerment agents for empathetic scenarios. We certainly don’t want to see any dip in NPS or CSAT, but [we want to create an experience that] feels intelligent all the way through.”

When asked what “empathetic scenarios” entailed, Danny says, “A guest who has had multiple disruptions is best for an agent. Or think about individuals who may have disabilities or are in compromised situations like a funeral…we want those to [be handled with] more of a human touch.”

Regarding scenarios best suited for AI, Danny believes mundane tasks are prime candidates. “For example — are customers asking questions that are easy to find on the web? Is a flight delayed by 3 hours? These are ideal for AI. Or, an easy way to leverage AI is to point people to new cities, routes, and seasonal destinations. It’s such a no-brainer. [AI] can handle the answers that don’t change. Let’s save those skills and point those to times when the guest needs unique help.”

In Danny’s ideal world, AI and agents collaborate seamlessly to deliver comprehensive, memorable experiences that are both empathetic and efficient, saving customers time at every interaction.

Key Takeaways from Breeze Airways

  • Approach AI strategically: Take a deliberate approach to implementing AI, focusing on understanding customer needs before deployment.
  • Empower through intelligence: Utilize AI to empower guests with intelligent responses, while reserving human agents for scenarios requiring empathy and human touch.
  • Automate mundane tasks: Employ AI for handling routine tasks such as answering common questions or providing basic product information, freeing up human resources for personalized assistance when needed.

Learn more: AI vs. Customer Service Agents — When Human Touch Is a Must-Have

How BSN Sports’ Mandi Geary Is Using AI to Analyze Data and Profit the Business

Mandi Geary, Director of Customer Service at BSN Sports, admits that she first started her interest in AI when she watched The Terminator. “I was always intrigued by AI — it’s always been super trendy, it’s a hot topic. I always want to be in on what the cool thing everyone’s doing. I’m interested in robots [and the] practical tools that will help our CX.”

Beyond its impact on CX, Mandi has grander aspirations for AI. She aims to leverage it to elevate the entire business and the CX department’s profile.

“There’s sales, marketing, IT, and there’s always CX, but they’re usually blended into the background,” says Mandi. “So we thought if we start to leverage AI, we’ll have access to so much data and insights that already live within Gladly. If we layer AI, we’ll quantify and qualify data, and our team will get the name and value they deserve in the organization. We will use AI to dig in, analyze data, and feed it back to the business.”

“For example, we get a lot of customer contacts about one particular shirt. There’s nothing wrong with the shirt, but it’s a locker tee, so people think it’s damaged. Before we had Gladly and the AI, [our teams] — product and marketing and digital — knew something was wrong with the shirt, but they were not connecting the dots. Now we have Gladly Topics where we can create a Topic to say this is the shirt they’re calling about [with] an accurate description or picture…then we can add on AI to analyze the data, and we can qualify and quantify 6,000 contacts about this t-shirt.”

Mandi is even in the process of creating a whole new program within BSN Sports using data. “We wanted to take all the exciting data and customer information in Gladly and build out a VOC (voice of customer) program. That’s where we started, and as we unraveled these AI solutions and tools, we realized we had a goldmine of what we could do with the data. We’re looking at everything from product, SKU level, general customer feedback on the business — all different facets.”

Key Takeaways: BSN Sports

  • Implement AI strategically: Leverage AI not only for customer service enhancement, but also to elevate your entire organization through data-driven insights.
  • Enhance your customer understanding: Utilize AI-driven solutions to accurately identify customer concerns and preferences, improving overall customer satisfaction and retention.
  • Establish a VOC Program: Develop a Voice of Customer (VOC) program using AI-powered data analysis to gain valuable insights into product feedback, SKU preferences, and general customer sentiments; facilitating informed decision-making processes.

Learn more: Voice of Customer Questionnaire

Book a demo with Gladly today and learn how Gladly can collaborate with you on your company’s AI adoption journey.

And don’t miss out on joining the Gladly Connect community to connect with other CX leaders, stay updated on industry trends, and gain access to exclusive events, learning resources, and mentorship opportunities.