DHL Parcel has launched a new skill for Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant app that allows customers to ask Alexa for updates on an expected parcel delivery, according to a company press release.
“We want to continually expand and improve service levels for our customers, so of course we’re going to take a close look at any new and innovative technologies available. As an innovation leader in the industry, this is the standard we set for ourselves,” Michaela Lukas, head of DHL Parcel’s customer service for private customers, said in a statement. “Voice enabled technologies, including hands-free interaction with online apps, will become more and more prevalent in the future.”
Based on user feedback, the new voice-controlled service will be enhanced later this year to include information on outlet locations, opening hours, products and prices, the company said.
This a very practical and useful application of Alexa's talents. While Amazon promotes Alexa's skills as a shopper convenience, a music streamer or a know-it-all, this new skill is an example of how Alexa also can be a customer service conduit — not just to Amazon — but to any company that sees fit to develop this sort of skill.
DHL is latching on to the notion that checking the status of package due for delivery can sometimes be cumbersome, particularly in cases where a customer might need to sort through e-mails or paperwork to find a tracking number and then type that number into the DHL site to get a status update. The Alexa skill, which makes this process hands-free, is another handy mobile commerce application.
Since unveiling its Alexa skills marketplace late last year, it's now easier for users of Amazon's Echo devices to get these new Alexa skills. It's also becoming easier to develop them, as Amazon also offers an Alexa skills development kit.
There are a variety of ways that very specific Alexa skills could be helpful to retailers and related companies. Alan Kent, vice president of architecture at Magento Commerce, has blogged about developing skills for checking inventory, fulfillment status and other uses. DHL's move shows that sometimes customer service efforts don't have to be over strategized, systemized and analyzed to be useful to customers. Sometimes it can be as simple as asking Alexa.