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Ocado using AI and Google cloud on customer emails

The system has learnt from millions of past customer emails

By Sam

Online only retailer Ocado  said it was ‘very excited’ to announce the deployment of its machine learning (ML)-enhanced contact center which employs an advanced AI (artificial intelligence) software model to categorize customer emails.

In what it called a novel approach the firm said it ensures customers are still getting that familiar human touch while also benefiting from the quick response provided by technology automation.

Built on a robust architecture, the software model can process thousands of customer emails per day and has been trained using millions of past messages from customers. In addition, the application respects customers’ privacy by filtering out personal details such as postal or email addresses, telephone numbers and other sensitive information.

The new ML-enhanced contact center application has been built using an in-house AI model and data sets created by Ocado Technology (the technology division of Ocado) as well as TensorFlow and related products from the Google Cloud Platform.

 

Ocado Machine Learning

Ocado Machine Learning

The in-house team of data scientists trained the machine learning model on a large set of past emails. During the research phase, the team compared different architectures to find a suitable solution: convolutional neural networks (CNNs), long short term memory networks (LSTMs) and others. Once the software architecture was created, the model were then implemented using the TensorFlow library and the Python programming language.

“We’re thrilled that TensorFlow helped Ocado adapt and extend state-of- the-art machine learning techniques to communicate more responsively with their customers. With a combination of open-source TensorFlow and Google Cloud services, Ocado and other leading companies can develop and deploy advanced machine learning solutions more rapidly than ever before,” said Zak Stone, Product Manager for TensorFlow on the Google Brain Team.

From the contact center point of view, the customer service representatives don’t have to spend hours categorizing thousands of emails manually; instead, the AI model parses the email and provides a useful summary and a priority tag. The customer service representative can then focus on solving the customers’ problems in a timely manner.

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There is still a human voice

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“We strive to deliver the best shopping experience for all our 500,000+ active customers. However, working in an omni channel contact centre can be challenging, with the team receiving thousands of contacts each day via telephone, email, webchat, social media and SMS. The new software developed by the Ocado Technology data science team will help the contact centre filter inbound customer contacts faster, enabling a quicker response to our customers which in turn will increase customer satisfaction levels,” said Debbie Wilson, Ocado contact centre operations manager.

Read CBR’s interview with Paul Clarke who runs Ocado Technology

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