Polestar
Read Time, 4 min.

All fast-growing companies know how hard it is to grow without losing quality along the journey. For a car company like Polestar, with a high-end product and a strong brand image, the relationship to customers and potential customers is extremely important. So how do you achieve higher customer satisfaction and lower your costs per customer interaction at the same time? It turned out that this was a case for AI.

 

Polestar is a Swedish electric performance car brand, determined to accelerate the shift to sustainable mobility. Headquartered in Gothenburg, the company grows at tremendous speed. During 2024, three models, Polestar 2, Polestar 3 and Polestar 4, will be available online in 27 markets.

As for any company, to deliver on customer service is of utter importance. Before 2021, all of Polestars contact centers, or engagement centers as they call them, used to be outsourced. During that year, the company commenced a transformation journey, in-housing all the engagement centers. They also made the decision to move from a hub approach, where one center was supporting 3 to 4 markets, to every market having their own, local inhouse engagement center, within its local teams. This meant getting closer both to the customer and the local business unit, providing many benefits, for example higher speed of resolution. And a huge increase in customer satisfaction. It also meant creating several local job opportunities. But obviously, it also meant a huge cost, an investment that the company needs to leverage from. Therefore, they constantly look at the efficacy of the engagement centers, trying to improve the handling of the cases, without losing quality.

In early 2023, the Customer Insights & Analytics team, together with the CX operations formed a collaborative team, and started to look at how AI could be utilized.

“The AI project really came out of a natural curiosity to explore these new and exciting opportunities that AI brings us. But also, from the need to leverage our inhouse team”, says Sarah Simpson, Global Head of Customer Experience.

Say hello to CAIR

Addressing the challenge of repetitive inquiries, the team diverged from standard Chat GPT models, opting instead for Semantic Search. It is a solution that is more like consulting a wise friend who understands the essence and context behind your words. And the friend was named CAIR, care as in in ’customer care’, but spelled with an ‘a’ and ‘i’… as in ‘AI’.

The questions in the incoming care case are dissected first. Then, a search is made across the internal support case database and knowledge base articles in Salesforce, to locate similar previously handled cases. From this insight, new, informed, and relevant responses are composed. To avoid generic expressions, the answers are checked by the Polestar Tone of Voice module, guaranteeing that they are not only are accurate, but also culturally appropriate. Finally, a human service agent reads though the answers, clearing them for deliverance, or modifying them if needed.

“When the agent curates the answer, it’s both a quality check to see that both the facts and tonality are right. But they are also retraining the model, increasing quality over time”, explains Fredrik Sterner Cederlöf, Head of CX, Customer Insights & Analytics.

Ahead of competition

At the end of year 2023, the project was way beyond the proof-of-concept stage, ready to roll out on a number of markets in Q1 and Q2, 2024. The response from the evaluation team, Swedish CE Advisors, was very good. With 70% experiencing that they save time and a 4.2 grade out of 5 for the tone of voice.

“Our main approach in everything we do is “Digital first. Human always”, says Sarah. “CAIR and our employees will learn from each other, just like us humans. It’s also important to understand that AI will not replace us but help us save time for more important tasks. And time is a scarcity in a company that grows at the speed we do.”

With CAIR ready to roll out, it’s no understatement to say that Polestar is way ahead of most companies when it comes to implementing AI in their customer experience process.

“We were one of the first companies in Sweden that was invited by Microsoft to develop in Open AI on their platform. It’s a great honor and an acknowledgement of our high level of innovation”, says Fredrik.

This also means that the future already is here. Together with Microsoft, Polestar is looking for new areas to implement AI. Retail being one. Workshops another. ‘Everything that can be automated should be automated’ is a mantra for the CX team at Polestar, freeing time for more value-adding activities.

“Not only key, but the single most important thing we did, was to involve people. We took away the fear of AI from individuals, from our teams. Thanks to that, and the success of this project, we now have an organization that is very ready for AI”, adds Sarah.

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