DPD UK: Responding to customer queries faster with Dialogflow

About DPD UK

Leading parcel carrier DPD UK delivers and collects over 1 million parcels across the region every day. It is part of the international DPDgroup.

Industries: Other
Location: United Kingdom

Leading parcel carrier DPD UK uses a rich text-based conversational experience built with Dialogflow to resolve over 32% of customer queries from the 3 million users on its parcel tracking app.

Google Cloud Results

  • Handles more than 32% of queries to improve speed of response and flag issues for support staff
  • Creates natural conversations with intent mapping and Small Talk
  • Leverages learning with integrations in additional channels

Handles more than 32% of customer queries

Every day, DPD UK delivers and collects over one million packages across the country, helping small, medium, and large businesses to ship online orders for clothes, phones, packaged food, or business supplies safely and on time. More than 10,000 staff at 91 locations handle the logistics that make that happen, while another 500 staff at four call centers deliver customer support at scale.

To stay competitive and improve services for its customers, DPD UK embraces new technology such as YourDPD, its parcel tracking app which launched in 2016 and now has more than 3 million users.

“The app has been incredibly successful,” says Sinead Croke, Director of Customer Experience at DPD UK. “One of the most popular aspects of it is the chat option. When customers address us through the app, they are immediately identified without having to answer frustrating security questions on a phone call. With 100,000 new users downloading the app every month, it became a challenge to keep pace with demand.”

“We found that about 70% of queries could be answered immediately—such as the standard delivery time of a parcel. The chat format is the perfect way to relay this information quickly and effectively.”

Sinead Croke, Director of Customer Experience, DPD UK

In just two months after the chat function was launched, the team dedicated to handling chat requests grew exponentially, from 12 to 50 personnel. To ease pressure on staff, Sinead and her team looked to a rich text-based conversational experience, or chatbot, to manage contacts and help resolve basic queries.

“We found that about 70% of queries could be answered immediately—such as the standard delivery time of a parcel,” says Sinead. “The chat format is the perfect way to relay this information quickly and effectively.”

YourDPD app
YourDPD app

Managing conversations with ease

Customers want quick and easy support online, through company websites, mobile applications, and social media. For DPD UK, the success of its parcel tracking app and its popular chat function meant customer support staff were working with 4,000 interactions a week. To make those interactions faster and simpler for users and staff, DPD UK looked to create a conversational experience able to answer the straightforward queries that accounted for up to 70% of contacts.

“We wanted to leverage the investment and research from an AI company, so we could maximize our time building a great user experience for our app users,” says Max Glaisher, Product Innovation Manager at DPD UK. “We looked for a cloud solution that we could learn to use and operate ourselves, and that could keep pace with future developments. Dialogflow has an open approach that makes it very easy for us to take on new channels without expensive integration work, and the platform was self-explanatory, well-documented, and easy to use. Choosing Dialogflow was a no-brainer.”

“People can say thank you in a million different ways. For a decision tree model, that can be a real problem, but the intent model on Dialogflow doesn’t need the wording to be an exact match. That means it understands what customers are looking for much more accurately.”

Max Glaisher, Product Innovation Manager, DPD UK

In the beginning, Max and his team ran a proof of concept using Dialogflow on a mobile chat app, using anonymized transcripts of customer conversations to analyze demands. “Usually customers were looking for status information, such as where their parcel was,” says Max. “We sorted those queries into four or five different event types and used Google best practices to design ways of presenting responses to users, which might include maps, images, or prompts, as well as chat responses.”

From there, DPD UK uses the Dialogflow dashboard to build new intents and train the model. The company also monitors analytics in the Dialogflow console and Chatbase for performance and to highlight gaps that need to be addressed. To help make customer experiences more natural, Max and his team enable Small Talk, helping to bridge gaps in conversations without the need to write all of their own informal responses.

“People can say thank you in a million different ways,” says Max Glaisher, Product Innovation Manager at DPD UK. “For a decision tree model, that can be a real problem, but the intent model on Dialogflow doesn’t need the wording to be an exact match. That means it understands what customers are looking for much more accurately.”

“To serve our customers, we need a more agile environment than other cloud platforms can provide. Whether using Google Cloud Translation API to identify parcel data in different languages or Dialogflow for conversational experiences, the Google Cloud Platform managed services and infrastructure help us bring innovative products to market faster.”

Max Glaisher, Product Innovation Manager, DPD UK

Easy integration with multiple channels to leverage learning

“When we set up the experience, we predicted it would serve around 10% of customer queries,” says Sinead. “But when we switched it on, that number was about 25%, and still rising.” Now the team aims to move the YourDPD app onto Firebase, ready to hit a resolution rate of 50%, dramatically reducing the need for human advisors to take over on support conversations. At the same time, DPD UK looks to leverage the learning of its experience with integrations across multiple channels, including email and messaging services.

It’s all part of a wider move to fast, flexible, and reliable cloud infrastructure. “Our IT director is a huge Google fan,” says Sinead. “We were one of the first UK companies to switch to G Suite, and we use Google Maps in our Android application.” Now more DPD UK infrastructure and services are set to move to Google Cloud.

“To serve our customers, we need a more agile environment than other cloud platforms can provide,” says Max. “Whether using Google Cloud Translation API to identify parcel data in different languages or Dialogflow for conversational experiences, the Google Cloud Platform managed services and infrastructure help us bring innovative products to market faster.”

About DPD UK

Leading parcel carrier DPD UK delivers and collects over 1 million parcels across the region every day. It is part of the international DPDgroup.

Industries: Other
Location: United Kingdom
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