DPD Germany : Voice control and artificial intelligence
Voice control and artificial intelligence: DPD Germany launches application for the Google Assistant and applies AI-based mailbots and chatbots
• The digital innovation leader raises its customer experience to the next level with voice-controlled digital assistance systems
• Not only Alexa but also the Google Assistant now provides the DPD's delivery forecast with its one-hour accuracy and enables the redirection of parcels by voice command, with Apple Home Pod to follow in the course of the year
• From the autumn DPD Germany will be using mailbots in its customer service operations and is driving forward the use of chatbots
• Developed in-house, DPD's bot system enables a high level of independence and flexibility
Aschaffenburg, 7 August 2018 – DPD is the first parcel service in Germany to offer an app for the Google Assistant, the virtual assistant which responds to spoken instructions. This means that parcel deliveries can now be managed and tracked by voice command: the Google Assistant knows the exact status of the shipment and can forecast its delivery time down to the last hour. If instructed to do so the assistant can also redirect a parcel – for example to a local Pickup parcelshop – or postpone the day of delivery. This service is available on all Android smartphones, on smart loudspeakers such as Google Home and on further Android-compatible devices such as smart watches and smart TVs. Last year DPD Germany was already the first parcel service to develop its own app for Alexa, Amazon's cloud-based digital assistant. DPD Germany is also applying artifical intelligence (AI) in other areas: intelligent mailbots and chatbots will soon play an important part in the daily work of DPD staff. An initial application will be launched in customer service operations in the autumn of this year.
"Artificial intelligence is a key technological feature when it comes to raising the customer experience in parcel shipping to a new level", states Michael Knaupe, Director Customer Experience & Communications at DPD Germany. "As leaders in digital innovation on the parcels market we aim to offer a wide range of possibilities for managing parcel deliveries on all standard channels of communication – from the tablet via the smartphone app right across to the digital assistant. In addition, AI-based mailbots and chatbots will enable us to offer our customers even more innovative contact channels."
Parcel management by voice command – soon also available for the Apple Home Pod
The DPD Action for the Google Assistant is activated, for example, by voice commands such as: "OK Google, ask DPD where my parcel is". The virtual assistant will then answer, for example: "Your parcel's on its way and will arrive between 11:13 and 12:13 today." Anyone who won't be at home when the delivery is due can also redirect the parcel by voice command (for example to a Pickup parcelshop) or postpone the day of delivery. In addition, the Google Assistant also knows where the nearest Pickup parcelshops are and provides information about further contact options offered by DPD. All that's required for use of all the available functionalities is registration with the DPD Parcel Navigator, with which the user's device initially has to be linked.
All these options for parcel tracking and delivery management have already been available on Amazon's digital assistant Alexa for over a year now. The DPD Skill, which DPD was the first parcel service in Germany to launch last year, is available for Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot, and now also for Amazon Echo Show and Amazon Echo Spot. An app for the Apple Home Pod is to follow this December.
Artificial intelligence by mailbot and chatbot
Language recognition is only one of the examples of how DPD is using the possibilities of artificial intelligence. In a further step, from the autumn of this year DPD will be launching a mailbot that will automatically assign emails from consignees to categories and then process them. Depending on the content of the email, DPD's AI system will, for example, identify whether it is an enquiry about parcel status, an appointment for a parcel pickup, or questions related to the return of goods. If the relevant information is contained in DPD's IT system, the mailbot can provide a direct answer. Alternatively it can identify the right contact person for the individual category and pass the email on. This AI support gives DPD the possibility of responding to incoming enquiries quickly and with consistently high quality, even if a large number of queries have to be dealt with.
As a further step DPD is also planning the use of chatbots as an additional channel of communication. Their first application will be an automated chat offer on the DPD website, in order to deal with questions from consignees. Typical questions could relate, for example, to the exact delivery time of a parcel. In future the use by consignees of flexible options for the redirection of parcels could also be fully automated and processed 24/7 by the chatbot. However, customer service is only one of a large number of areas of application, and chatbots could even be applied for drawing up offers, processing applications and for use as an internal know-how platform.
The basis of DPD Germany's chatbot developments is an AI-supported bot system which was created within DPDgroup and is already in operation in France. Compared to existing solutions on the market developed by major Internet corporations, the in-house solution provides signficantly more independence and flexibility. The DPD bot system can be integrated into a wide range of channels and platforms. Some examples of these are the DPD App or the digital assistance systems of Google, Amazon and Apple. A further conceivable field of application is the integration of chatbot offers in the websites of e-commerce retailers.
About DPD Germany
DPD Germany is part of DPDgroup, the second-largest international parcel delivery network in Europe. Throughout Germany DPD has 78 depots and 6,000 Pickup parcelshops. A workforce of 9,500 and 11,000 delivery drivers are in daily operation on behalf of the company’s customers. Every year the No. 2 on the German parcels market ships around 375 million parcels – providing carbon-neutral transport operations at no additional cost to the customer.
Through innovative technology, local knowledge and dedicated customer care, DPD provides the best possible experience for both shippers and shoppers. DPD’s industry-leading Predict service is setting a new standard for keeping customers closely in touch with their delivery, with real time tracking of their delivery, a one-hour delivery window and a range of options for redirecting parcels. In recognition of this innovation DPD Germany received several awards like the Digital Transformation Award or the UX Design Award.
As part of DPDgroup, DPD Germany has access to over 32,000 local Pickup points across Europe, and delivers to 230 countries worldwide. DPDgroup’s 38,000 people work together to deliver more than 4.8 million parcels each day. The sole shareholder in DPD is GeoPost, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Le Groupe La Poste. GeoPost posted sales of €6.8 billion in the year 2017.
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