UPS launches chatbot in beta

United Parcel Service (UPS) has launched a beta testing version of a ‘chatbot’, an artificial intelligence platform that mimics human conversation to help customers to find UPS locations, track packages and get shipping rates.

UPS chatbot is going to be available through Skype, Amazon and Facebook Messenger. The system provides users with a convenient and conversational interface that differs from those currently being used on the UPS website or mobile apps. UPS customers will be able to use simple phrases such as ‘shipping rates’ for prompt responses in English. The chatbot will also be available through the new Amazon Alexa platform that also has voice recognition capabilities.

Stuart Marcus, UPS vice president of customer technology marketing, said: “We see chatbots becoming an important communication channel for our customers over the next few years, and we’re setting the stage for the incorporation of artificial intelligence throughout our customer-facing technologies.”

UPS developed its chatbot in-house and plans to continue to update its functionality, including integration with the UPS My Choice platform. With the addition of UPS My Choice service, customers will be able to manage the delivery time and location of incoming packages through this conversational user interface.

The march of automation in delivery businesses continues apace. Where people see the obvious in the form of the Starship and airborne drone delivery vehicles, it seems that delivery companies are also trying to put automation into their customer services departments. Where this saves the company money it could ultimately cost a lot of jobs in the business in the medium to long term.
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