Using AI to help America eat more almonds

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Using AI to help America eat more almonds

By Mike Troy - 10/17/2018
Blue Diamond Growers is using a chat bot solution from Astute Solutions to provide answers to common consumer questions about almonds.

Some clever humans at Blue Diamond Growers and Astute Solutions are using artificial intelligence (AI) to answer almond aficionados’ most pressing questions.

Blue Diamond Growers recently launched a customer self-service chatbot on its website, www.bluediamond.com, using artificial intelligence driven virtual agent technology from Astute. In its first month, Blue Diamond said the bot assisted close to 6,000 consumers in finding answers to questions about products, coupons, recipes and other topics.

The beauty of the bot, and really the promise of many of the technology solutions being offered to retailers and brands today, is consumers gain the ability to self-serve. In this case, the bot deflects high-volume, repetitive questions away from Blue Diamond’s contact center and enables employees who work there to engage with customer in more meaningful ways.

For example, Blue Diamond's consumer advocate group receives a high volume of contacts each month related to simple questions about coupons, product flavors, allergies, ingredients, and recipes. Lisa Diehl, Blue Diamond's Consumer Advocacy Manager, saw an opportunity to provide a quicker, easier way for consumers to get answers to their questions.

"Using the bot simplifies the customer journey because it enables our consumers to find answers without needing to pick up the phone," said Diehl.

That’s because they converse with the “Astute Bot,” a conversational self-service interface driven by natural language processing and narrow AI. It allows consumers to have conversations to complete a variety of interactions across many devices and channels, including web chat, messaging apps, and voice-based virtual assistants.

Since launching the website chatbot last month, Blue Diamond said it has exchanged more than 9,000 messages with consumers, delivering correct answers with a 90% accuracy rate. As the AI continues to learn and identify questions that don't yet have an answer, the accuracy rate will increase. In addition to providing conversational self-service experiences, the bot is also surfacing valuable insights that can be used across the organization, including by the marketing, web development, and product teams, according to Blue Diamond.

"We're pleased with the chatbot's progress during its first month, and look forward to seeing it continue to improve the customer journey," Diehl said. "Astute Bot is a great solution for companies that want to leverage what artificial intelligence can do, even if they're just at the beginning of their AI journey."

That’s music to the ears of Astute Chief Executive Officer Ray Carey who believes there is nothing better than seeing customers succeed.

"Blue Diamond provides a textbook example of how to successfully augment their current processes with always-on, always available digital service,” Carey said.

Sacramento-based Blue Diamond Growers is a grower-owned cooperative representing more than 3,000 of California’s almond growers and is the world’s leading almond marketer and processor.