Case Study

Top Office Supply Retailer Saves 15% on Live Agent Costs with Improved AI-powered Order Return Process


This retailer is a leading office supply brand that offers customers a selection of office and electronic goods and related services at everyday low prices. On top of managing over 2,200 retail stores, the business enjoys an online presence in over 40 countries. The brand began working with SmartAction to enhance their existing legacy IVR system with intelligent self-service capable of handling return processes independently. With dial-ins for both consumers and business partners, the solution needed to take return orders of all types so that agents could focus on helping other requests.

Success by the Numbers

call finish rate
savings in live
agent costs
average call time


Consumers have shifted to online shopping for its convenience. 2.14 billion people worldwide buy goods and services online. This globally available brand needed an overhaul of their outdated IVR system to maintain customer loyalty and keep up with competing in the market.

The system was only capable of basic data collection. It essentially served as a note-taker for agents, processing and transcribing what callers said and submitting that information. Live agents would then be responsible for reaching out and completing the transactions. The automation was poor at processing details associated with order returns, resulting in only 16% of order return calls ending in success. Low success rates drove caller frustration and transfers without the necessary information to complete the return.



SmartAction worked closely with the retailer to build a product returns application within six short weeks. By customizing its proprietary Natural Language Understanding (NLU) system with the retailer’s expected intents, SmartAction improved capture of customer responses. This facilitated more accurate and effective communication.

The conversational AI solution identifies and confirms the account associated with the return and proactively asks questions to determine which items are being sent back. Customers can speak conversationally as the solution performs backend database calls to confirm which items are returnable. Once the return is confirmed and accepted, the intelligent virtual agent triggers shipping labels and an order confirmation to be sent out via email.

Before the call ends, the virtual agent asks the customer for their “reason for return” to gain more insight into improving customer satisfaction with products in the future. The entire engagement is conversational, quick, and accessible.



The office supply brand saw a positive impact immediately after launching the application. Before implementing SmartAction, finish rates were at 16%—now, order returns achieve an 80% success rate. And rather than navigating a complex IVR menu, customers are able to self-serve order returns using the best natural language processing. This advanced call center automation has reduced the need for transfers to live agents, and as a result, they are now better allocated.

In addition, the automated return process is twice as efficient as the previous one, with average handle times decreasing by 50%. By introducing conversational AI to their customer experience, the office supplier has saved 15% on live agent costs, delivering strong ROI to the overall business.

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