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The holiday rush has started: How OluKai and Sonos gear up for the season with AI

San Francisco, CA,
Get ready for the holiday rush with Sierra's AI agent

For most consumer product companies, the holidays are the most important time of year. In 2023, Cyber Week alone drove a staggering $38 billion in online sales. Preparation for the holiday season starts many months in advance. Technology teams fortify their platforms to manage traffic surges, stress-test websites, optimize load times, and ready servers for peak loads. Customer Experience leaders expand their customer support teams, hiring temporary staff to handle the increased volume of inquiries, returns, and order tracking. Simultaneously, companies experiment with competitive pricing and attractive offers to capture customer attention during this busy and competitive time.

At Sierra, we believe AI has an important role to play in every B2C company's holiday season and are already helping brands scale up and "staff up" with AI agents. Here are four key use cases we’re helping our customers tackle in the run-up to the holidays.

1. Easily manage surges in traffic and be available around the clock

Retailers hired over 400,000 seasonal workers in 2023. Training new, temporary hires on your products, brand, and value propositions can be time-consuming and costly, but it's essential to maintain the high standards your customers expect.

With Sierra's AI agents, you can seamlessly deliver incredible customer interactions across the globe, reducing the need to surge staffing and rounding out the service load spikes. Whether it's answering questions, tracking orders, or handling post-holiday returns, your AI agent can scale to any demand and deliver instant and consistent support when customers reach out. Melissa Ziegler, VP of Marketing at OluKai emphasizes the availability of the OluKai AI agent, “AI is immediate, with your first response time and total average handle time dropping to virtually nothing. And, if you're a consumer like me who remembers something at 2AM, I can get a response from an AI agent 24/7/365.”

Melissa Ziegler, VP of Marketing at OluKai

2. Experiment with holiday offers, deals, and discounts

Discounts and deals aren't just a bonus; they're the lifeblood of the shopping experience, especially during the holiday season when consumers are spending more than ever. In 2023, 66% of holiday shoppers said that promotions were their most important consideration during the holiday. Correspondingly, companies need to plan in advance to ensure these promotions go live without a hitch. Beyond updating their e-commerce platform and CMS, companies must also train customer service teams with the latest information on discounts, return policies, shipping guarantees, and more.

Your Sierra AI agent will be an expert in your company's nuances, policies, and procedures. When experimenting with new offers, your AI agent is updated instantly—no training sessions required. For example, during the 2024 holiday season, OluKai will use Sierra’s AI agent to introduce and explain new holiday-specific product launches, all without any additional training costs.

During the hectic holiday season, it is crucial to quickly spot emerging opportunities or problem areas. Sierra's AI agents can identify trends and common customer inquiries in real-time. Whether customers are offering feedback about products and services, consistently purchasing complementary products, or asking about new holiday promotions, Sierra’s Experience Manager delivers insights that allow your team to respond swiftly and effectively when it matters most.

Sierra Experience Manager

4. Drive customer loyalty with empathetic, personalized interactions

For most service organizations in B2C companies, there are two support spikes: one before the winter holidays around Cyber Week, and one after, when customers are setting up new products and trying on new apparel. Sierra agents are empathetic, effective, and endlessly patient, enabling your customers to solve these problems with ease.

For example, Sonos doesn’t just sell speakers —they help customers experience and enjoy music. To help customers achieve a faster “time-to-music,” Sonos enables their listeners to easily and quickly set up their speaker, whether guiding them as they configure a wireless connection or locate a router. The Sonos AI agent provides empathetic, personalized support to ensure customers feel valued and empowered every step of the way.

Pairing Sonos speaker

Scale up with your own AI agent

The holiday season is a make-or-break time for B2C retail companies. By preparing your systems, expanding your support team, and fine-tuning your marketing strategies, you can ensure a successful and profitable season. With Sierra’s AI agents, you can elevate your customer service, maintain brand integrity, and drive customer loyalty—all while gaining real-time insights into emerging trends. If you're interested in applying AI to scale up for the holidays and elevate your customer experience, we'd love to work with you.

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