Freshpet Wants Scout to Be Pet Parents’ AI Copilot

Sometimes when you need to resolve a concern or issue, you would do almost anything to not have to talk to a human. On other occasions, you’re more than eager to skip automated prompts and connect directly with a human to find a solution. 

That’s the thinking Freshpet Director of Consumer Care Lisa Diehl had when looking to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance the customer experience for the brand’s customers. In an interview with PYMNTS, Diehl digs into the positive impact chatbots have had on the pet food company and the compelling insights that are driving their future adoption of AI. 

“When I joined Freshpet, I was tasked with examining the communication channels available to our consumers. Initially, these channels were quite traditional, including phone, email and website contact forms,” said Diehl. “And, looking at the demographics of Freshpet pet parents, it became evident that digital was really the direction that we wanted to go. My primary focus has consistently centered around meeting our pet parents in the channels they prefer, rather than compelling them to use our predetermined channels.”

In light of the demographic shifts, Diehl notes that especially among younger millennials, Gen Z, and the emerging Gen Alpha, who are deeply immersed in the digital realm, Freshpet needed to adapt.  

Introducing Scout

Diehl points out that Scout, the Freshpet chatbot, has played a crucial role in efficiently handling common and simple inquiries. By managing these initial questions, Scout effectively sifts through less complex concerns, enabling her live agent team to concentrate on more intricate and emotionally nuanced issues that demand empathy and a human touch. 

When creating these digital channels, Diehl emphasizes that Freshpet struck a balance between efficiency and human interaction. Scout, with its reported charming personality and prompt responses, guarantees a delightful experience for customers in search of answers to questions like where to buy Freshpet products or how to properly store them. 

According to Diehl, Scout is always learning new skills and is regularly evaluated with the questions and concerns that may have initially stumped the chatbot. Diehl notes training the digital “puppy” is an ongoing process, but it’s something that is needed to ensure that he becomes progressively more adept at addressing a wider range of customer queries.  

How Scout Helps Freshpet

When Freshpet examined metrics and reports, the team observed a notable trend: a decline in phone volume and a corresponding increase in chat volume.  

Digging further, Freshpet found that their chatbot managed to provide accurate real-time responses to 97% of its customer inquiries received through the automated chat function on the Freshpet website — all without requiring input from the consumer care team. 

Moreover, because a substantial portion of customer inquiries were efficiently addressed by the chatbot, Freshpet saw a 39% reduction in the number of calls their consumer care agents needed to handle. The chatbot adeptly managed inquiries that could be resolved by Scout, allowing the consumer care team to focus on addressing high-priority consumer issues that required a “human touch.” 

Furthermore, in conjunction with the reduced call volumes, Freshpet saw a 29% decrease in waiting times for customers requiring assistance from live consumer care agents.  

When considering the qualifications required for their consumer care agents, Diehl notes that a distinct skill set is essential. 

“I teach my agents to make sure that we’re generating are the same emotion that the pet parent has,” said Diehl. “You need somebody that has a lot more empathy in their DNA.” 

With that, Diehl seeks individuals who possess a deep-seated capacity for empathy, coupled with a comprehensive understanding of their products and the associated health concerns as these agents collaborate closely with Freshpet’s veterinarian team, demanding a higher level of expertise than those who merely handle routine inquiries such as purchase locations or product freezing.  

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead to the coming year, Diehl envisions Freshpet placing a considerable emphasis on incorporating generative AI and chat GPT into their consumer care operations. The precise course of this transformation remains undecided, yet Diehl emphasizes that it will undoubtedly feature prominently in their ongoing efforts to adapt to the dynamic consumer care landscape. 

“We’re constantly pivoting and we’re constantly in that scrappy kind of mindset like, ‘what are we going to do next?’”