UPS on Monday said it has launched a beta version of a chatbot, an artificial-intelligence-enabled platform that mimics human conversation to help users easily find UPS® locations, get shipping rates and track packages.
The UPS chatbot, available through Facebook Messenger, Skype and Amazon platforms, provides users with a convenient and conversational interface that is different from those offered on the UPS website or UPS mobile apps. For example, UPS customers can use simple phrases like “shipping rates” to get prompt voice responses in English. Amazon users can access the UPS chatbot through Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa, which features voice-recognition capabilities.
“At UPS, we’re bringing our first chatbot to life to make it easier for our customers to access information about their packages and shipments through messaging apps and voice-enabled platforms,” said Stuart Marcus, UPS vice president of customer technology marketing. “Our long-range plans are much bigger than that. 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, which invests more than $1 billion a year in technology, 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.
Elements of artificial intelligence are becoming a bigger part of various UPS technologies. For example, the company’s new virtual assistant on UPS.com uses natural language understanding to help customers track packages. The assistant becomes more skilled at its tasks as more people ask it questions.
“The UPS chatbot and the upcoming integration with UPS My Choice service exemplify the company’s dedication to customer-service enhancements,” said Andrew Van Beek, UPS senior director of applications development.
UPS My Choice members receive an email or text message the day before a shipment arrives. If they won’t be home to receive a package, they can re-route eligible packages to their workplace, a neighbor’s home or a nearby UPS Access Point™ location. More than 30 million people now use the service in 15 countries. In the U.S., roughly one in four households are UPS My Choice users.