Sunday, 27 May 2018 14:09

Pitney Bowes' chatbot platform engages you through messaging apps

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If you're in business and want to deliver personalised yet automated customer service through Facebook Messenger and Web applications, then shipping, mailing, data and commerce experts Pitney Bowes want to send you a message.

Global ecommerce, shipping, mailing, and data solutions experts, Pitney Bowes, have announced the global release of its first "fast and adaptable chatbot platform, EngageOne Converse".

Whether you've ever wanted to be chatted up by a computer aside, this new chatbot is part of the the company's "EngageOne suite of customer engagement solutions" and is appropriately dubbed "Converse".

Billed as "intelligent self-service technology, designed to integrate data and location information into leading messaging software to help support the 55% of consumers who currently welcome customer support through chatbots", Converse isn't a shoe brand in this case, but a tool that clearly aims to be more than just all talk.

After all, in today’s digital climate, it's no surprise to discover that "businesses struggle to keep up with consumer demand for instant and accurate support, any time".

Indeed, with consumers, and especially those hard to please, edgy millennials who demand messaging options, the stark reality is that you need to provide them, but unfortunately, less than half of businesses are using messaging platforms to communicate with their customers.

To the rescue comes the EngageOne Converse service which is billed as "simplifying real-time communications for businesses to address this challenge".

What it does is use popular messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, Web applications, or interactive PDFs for transactional documents, thereby allowing businesses to now automate conversations with customers to help them self-serve.

So, how does it all work?

Well, we're told that the EngageOne Converse service "integrates with the wider portfolio of Pitney Bowes software and data, bringing additional functionality and possibilities to enhance the customer experience".

"A text-based conversation with the chatbot can be upgraded with Interactive Personalised Video from EngageOne Video. Similarly, conversational experiences can be enhanced by location data, demographic data, and other Pitney Bowes data products.

"Take for example the telecommunications industry. Each day, providers are bombarded with hundreds, even thousands, of customer service inquiries. As a result, customers often wait on hold for long periods of time, and are commonly rerouted to multiple departments before their question is resolved.

"With EngageOne Converse, a customer can instead type their question through their preferred messaging application, anytime they want – not just during business hours. The chatbot can provide the answer directly through the conversation, direct the customer to the exact support page online to answer their question, or direct them to other support options for a resolution. There’s never a wait time, and customers are routed to the right place the first time, quickly and efficiently.

"In a billing use case, the chatbot may leverage EngageOne Video to provide the customer with an interactive, personalised video to explain a complex billing transaction. In a customer inquiry about new service or phone repairs, the chatbot may leverage Pitney Bowes location APIs to detect the customer’s location and provide a map of nearby retail outlets with driving directions. Similarly, online transactional documents, such as interactive PDFs, can be upgraded with contextualised chatbots to answer customer questions in real time, obviating the need to phone the call centre."

How are businesses engaging with EngageOne Converse?

Well, Opus Trust Marketing’s acting chief executive Rob Alonso said: “We’re using EngageOne Converse in two ways: firstly, for our own clients, so we can respond to them more effectively and dynamically. We can create engaging conversational experiences hosted on our website that direct our customers to the information they need, in real-time, answering queries on topics like epayslips, for example.

"Secondly, we’re extending our physical and digital product portfolio so our clients can offer EngageOne Converse to their own customers, helping them meet customer demand in an innovative and relevant way. Initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and we love that Marketing and Customer Experience staff can make ongoing changes to the conversation in a few minutes, not days or weeks, without relying on an IT team or a third-party vendor.”

Then there's Andy Moy, managing principal, at Buzzy Buzz, who said: "Virtual Assistants all too often are deployed as standalone engagement channels. This is just repeating the problem of the past where new channels are added in isolation.

"They know nothing about the context of prior communications and interactions and they certainly can’t gracefully hand over from one channel to another. EngageOne Converse puts Customer Experience to the forefront of virtual assistance”

Now, it should come as no surprise to hear Pitney Bowes state that "EngageOne Converse has been built with user focus, so that any business professional can make changes to the chatbot at any time. Authorised personnel can go into Converse and update the solution, again ensuring customer needs are met in real time".

Indeed, Bob Guidotti, executive vice-president and president for Software Solutions at Pitney Bowes, said: “Six of the 10 most used applications today are messaging applications. Consumers have spoken, and they have a preferred communication channel.

“Today’s empowered consumer expects businesses to meet them where they are. Businesses must recognise this and integrate technology capabilities that allow them to have immediate, data-driven conversations with their customers. EngageOne Converse is making this possible.”

With EngageOne Converse a part of the Knowledge Fabric of Pitney Bowes, which "helps clients surface relevant business insights by understanding the relationships between people, places, and things", you'll undoubtedly be interesting in knowing that "Converse is a proof point of how software and data can be brought together to enhance business outcomes, namely improving decision-making, increasing customer engagement and reducing risk".

So, if you want to get chatty and learn more about EngageOne Converse, along with a live chatbot screen demo you can interact with, you can do so right here

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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