What happens when your website is suddenly hit with hundreds of unexpected, angry messages? 

Thankfully this isn’t a typical event for most brands, but it can happen to anyone. 

If it ever does happen, one thing to keep an eye on is the human cost. Customer service agents are valued employees, and asking them to trawl through rants from internet trolls is no fun, and can even lead to emotional distress.

Since our Virtual Shopping Assistant vets online chat messages before they are seen by humans, we have always thought it would be a great tool for dealing with troll attacks, but until recently we had never had the chance to test that theory.

Now we have. And we are delighted to say that the Virtual Shopping Assistant performed exactly as hoped. 

We helped our client respond appropriately to a sudden rush of very difficult messages - none of which had anything to do with their products. And we did it while still helping genuine shoppers with their enquiries and converting product questions into sales.  

Here’s the full story:

An unsolicited endorsement from a politician

Since her surprise election to the US House of Representatives in 2018, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become one of the most famous people in America. 

Almost universally known simply as “AOC,” she is the youngest woman to ever serve in Congress, and is the most prominent member of a group of progressive Congresswomen known simply as “The Squad.” 

But politics aside, AOC also became an instant style icon the moment she appeared on the national stage. One of the first questions everyone wanted to know after her 2018 election was “where did she get that bright red lipstick from?”

The makeup provider she named recently became one of the many cosmetics companies to work with Envolve Tech, and added a Virtual Shopping Assistant to its site in recent months. 

AOC talks about policies more than makeup, so the association between the cosmetics brand and the Congresswoman was largely forgotten until...

...this Summer. America’s Vogue magazine invited AOC to take part in a popular video series which featured famous people sharing their makeup routines. 

On August 21st, Vogue posted the video entitled “Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Guide to Her Signature Red Lip,” which - of course - prominently featured our client’s product.

Given how iconic AOC’s look has become in the last two years, the video has been a huge success - snagging nearly 2.5 million views so far!

Not everyone loves politicians

Although AOC is one of the most admired people in America, she has a fair share of detractors who don’t like her politics.

The reaction to the video has been broadly positive, but a minority of customers (and more than a few internet trolls) took to our client’s website to voice their displeasure with anything AOC-related.

Without any warning, customer questions about makeup shades and eye cream types were overwhelmed by angry, abusive anti-AOC rants.

Not every complaint about AOC was viciously personal, but many were. This is exactly the sort of communication which takes a real toll on a customer service team. Reading abusive content for hours on end is not good for anyone.

Because our client had the Virtual Shopping Assistant in place, however, our system was able to absorb the abuse without it making anyone on our client’s customer service team miserable. 

And, once it became clear what the trolls were up to, we were able to “train” our Virtual Shopping Assistant with a standard reply:

“We’re sorry for your disappointment and appreciate your feedback. While we love that Vogue featured our Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick, this was in no way a political endorsement. We respect all opinions and beliefs and want only to encourage and empower through our artistry.”

Our Virtual Shopping Assistant never stopped helping genuine shoppers with their product-related enquiries. It just kept on helping customers and converting sales without interruption..

Yet another reason to add a Virtual Shopping Assistant

The primary job of our Virtual Shopping Assistant is to convert customer enquiries into sales, and since its launch last year it has been doing this job very well.

But the Virtual Shopping Assistant also provides value to our clients in many other ways as well. It is great at tirelessly responding to frequently asked questions, using brand-consistent language without fail, and 24/7, 365 day availability. 

But now we know that the Virtual Shopping Assistant is also a perfect tool for diffusing tense situations, and shielding your customer service team from trolls. 

Like the other benefits that come with our Virtual Shopping Assistant, it is all part of our standard service at no extra cost!

How to get a Virtual Shopping Assistant

Adding a Virtual Shopping Assistant to any site could not be more straightforward. There are no setup fees, subscription fees, or obligations. 

Our technology is also easily integrated into all major chat technologies. If your website is using a system we’ve not seen before, our tech team will put in the work to find a solution.

Most online retailers will never have to consider the impact of famous politicians endorsing their brand of lipstick, but it’s not something our client ever expected to consider either.

Get a Virtual Shopping Assistant on your site today, and be ready for the unexpected tomorrow!

For more details, and a free demonstration, contact our Head of Business Development Dan Harding, or our Head of Partnerships Dan Amarquaye


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