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Most of us have probably interacted with chatbots one way or another – while shopping online or planning a holiday. The majority of users agree that chatbots significantly improve customer experience.

Generally, how can a chatbot help logistics company customers? They can handle most of the low-level functions that have been traditionally performed by the contact center personnel:

The value of chatbots for ecommerce and customer service businesses is apparent.

For the customer, a logistics chatbot provides an easy channel of automated communication

From a logistics enterprise, there are two ways chatbots can help the company:

1. Customer-facing operations – delivery booking, shipment tracking,  delivery-related inquiries.
2. Supply chain operations – warehousing, fleet management,  navigation.

Customer-facing operation

To a great extent, chatbots present an easy way for customer to connect with a business. Chatbots can work through a multitude of messaging apps, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Skye, Twitter, Line, Slack, Telegram, amongst other. Connecting with a customer on the channel they prefer is always the best way to connect with them.
Today, Google Assistant allows UPS customers to ‘talk’ to the global tracking company via their Google home speaker, getting answer to questions about whether UPS has delivered anything or if a delivery will be arriving shortly. Customers can use the UPS chatbot in the UPS My Choice app for personalized delivery planning and tracking. Thus, when talking to the chatbot, a user doesn’t need to provide the tracking number – the chatbot will pull it out of the user’s account data stored within the UPS database.
24/7 Customer service
With chatbots operating 24/7, customers can get assistance at any time they need it. Improved customer service means happier customers, which means more new and returning customers. Chatbots can provide stock information as well as be programmed to upsell and cross-sell to customers.
Users can request deliveries via a logistics chatbot
Pickup and delivery addresses, dates and times, additional services, such as insurance or express shipment – the chatbot can handle all these details, process the order and issue a receipt with all the necessary information.
Amend orders
Users can amend or cancel a delivery via a chatbot using the tracking number that was issued after the order confirmation. The chatbot may retrieve the special conditions, if any, from the database and apply them in each particular case.
Track shipments

Tracking shipments on a company website is nothing new. Tracking shipments via a chatbot is even easier. Users can upload a shipment number in a chatbot and review delivery status right on their chosen platform, whether that is WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Slack or Skype, or a number of other ones.

Chatbots also have the ability to remember a customer’s shipment number so they will only have to enter it once. Any subsequent inquiry will only update the information.

Users can also get delivery notifications as well as provide all details necessary to collect a package. This will be just like an email or SMS, but better as it’ll be provided directly to the user’s messenger interface.

Sentiment analysis
Chatbots can capture a customer’s tone of voice and analyze the sentiment of the customer. If the tone is angry, the chatbot can route the call to a real person and provide the company rep with as much information about the customer as possible.
Onboard customers

Chatbots can be used to onboard customer quickly and efficiently. Chatbots can play a pivotal customer acquisition role by “conversing” with potential customers while they are visiting a landing page, filling out a loan application, or more.

Chatbots can pre-populate fields on landing pages and within application forms, thereby reducing the customer’s wait time and alleviating some of the worst parts of the shipping process. Customer service like this will be recognized and rewarded.

Supply chain operations

Chatbots in logistics can assist the operational side of the business. A logistics company depends heavily on various data streaming in from a plethora of different sources and this data needs to be processed immediatey. From customer orders, to warehouse issues, to fleet and personnel data, chatbots can streamline the data flow, provide instant answers to questions that arise, and optimize the supply chain.

New orders received from customers, orders in progress, orders being delayed, canceled or routed, or even unclaimed orders all need to be processed in real and the flows must be updated according to the latest driver, shipper, or warehouse attendant information. Chatbots can help capture this information, update datasets behind the scenes and then disseminate information to the parties needing it.

In the warehouse, inventory control is paramount. Without proper information, orders can’t be routed correctly. Chatbots can interact with a shipping company’s systems to ensure orders are where they are supposed to be, and the operation is running properly.

Shipping companies must always know how many vehicles it has, how many are currently en route, how many idle or in being maintained, or retired. To avoid delays and costly customer claims, a shipping company must always be prepared to replace a broken vehicle as well as be ready to increase vehicle count when demand is particularly high. It’s imperative that fleet information be kept up to date and adjusted as needed. With their instantaneous nature, chatbots can help shipping companies keep up with all the information flowing through their systems as well as add a predictive asset maintenance element to their business to ensure there are no nasty surprises.

IoT -connected

Connected devices are already widely used at logistics companies for warehouse inventory and cold chain monitoring. Various connected devices, such as temperature and humidity meters, as well as sensors that can count stock and track movements of goods can inform chatbots about changes in warehouse conditions. Information about items that are out-of-stock, items that have been moved, or items that are soon expected to arrive can be provided through a chatbot to any interested parties.

The chatbot can inform the shift manager of an upcoming shipment arrival, the absence of a particular item, or the breakdown of a part or the entire warehouse conditioning system may result in the damage of goods or the slowdown of the logistics process.

Q&A
Chatbots can return pre-programmed answers to a company’s frequently asked questions (FAQs), such as location, types of service, rates, refunds, destinations served, delivery terms, and more.
Personnel information

One day self-driving trucks from Tesla may fill the roads, but until that time comes logistics companies will rely on drivers to deliver goods. Chatbots can assist here. An updated roster showing personnel currently working, on standby, on vacation, on sick leave, or taking a day off can be changed instantly and this information can be immediately disseminated to personnel managers or employee fill-in parties.

Conclusion

For logistic companies, chatbots can collect and organize data from customers, warehouses, suppliers, vehicles, and personnel, including gig economy ones. All of this collected data can be analyzed and used for operations planning, machine learning, and promotional campaigns.

Based on the data collected during the customer conversations, chatbots can provide valuable insights into the success of promotional campaigns, the quality of the customer experience, and the effectiveness of a particular communication channels

Chatbots can take over the tasks of support center operators, customer agents, and warehouse workers. By routing simple, repetitive tasks, such as customer service calls, delivery tracking, or monitoring warehouse conditions, to a chatbot, logistics businesses can reassign their employees to handle more productive positions.

When used as a company’s preliminary communication tool, a chatbot is a perfect platform to send out messages to the company’s personnel. Warehouse workers can be instantly notified of any changes in factory conditions. All necessary personnel can be made aware of any new shipment arrivals. Managers can be notified of any changes in personnel rosters and shift covering can be handled automatically, with the chatbot instantly finding employees to cover any missing or dropped shifts.

The logistics business is a complex, multi-faced operation. As in many other industries, chatbots bring significant benefits to logistics and delivery companies. In-house communication can speed up the flow of information, which will improve both employee and customer satisfaction significantly.

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