AI chatbots have gained their foothold in the modern digital space as a majority of industries use chatbots for enhanced, insightful, and efficient customer engagement. AI-based chatbots are available 24/7, they are intuitive and they do not make mistakes. Almost every internet user interacts with some type of chatbot every day. ‘Hi Siri!’, ‘Ok Google!’ and ‘Hey Alexa!’ are some common phrases that people are familiar with.
With such a wide global acceptance, the implementation of chatbots in supply management is inevitable and bot-developers have come up with solutions that can simplify or even revolutionize the supply-chain management process.
Chatbots in supply management can be categorized as per specific parameters.
Chatbots in Supply Management: Consumer-Oriented Practices –
Chatbots are not industry specific but they can be outfitted with industry-specific information so they can connect to the consumers and clients who are most familiar with industry jargon and variables. Nonetheless, chatbots are an easy way to communicate with consumers.
Here, a good example would be UPS bots that can talk to customers via ‘Google Home’ and provide delivery related information. The bot uses additional software for personalized planning and tracking. Chatbots can handle many low-level operations that would otherwise require customer support personnel.
Some features of the modern chatbots in the overall supply management perspective are given here.
This is quite similar to shopping or booking a service. Customers can request deliveries through a logistical chatbot and it can also handle all the additional information such as pickup and delivery address, delivery schedule, insurance, and delivery speed. Additionally, the chatbot can also process the order and issue a receipt that contains necessary details.
- Tracking and Order Related Issues
In any case, the customers may require amending the order such as adding or removing some products, or even cancel the order. A supply-chain chatbot can process their requests by using the information such as tracking numbers in the database and integrating it to the unique customer ID.
In addition, chatbots can also provide assistance in shipment tracking which can be better than the tracking feature available on the websites. With a chatbot, the customers have to enter the tracking ID only once and they can refer to the details anytime they want.
Frequently asked questions will not be a problem anymore as the chatbots can respond to the common questions through pre-programmed answers and follow-up questions and answers. Thus, the need for human intervention is minimized as it is needed only in situations where information is needed in detail.
Another important aspect of customer-oriented operations is feedback and surveys. Businesses can ask for customer feedback regarding their services or delivery through the chatbot. The whole process remains automated where customers only have to rate the service and/or explain their thoughts in the comments.
In addition, brands often conduct surveys for categorizing their customer base and gain insights about their personal habits and knowledge of other brands. Chatbots can be extremely helpful in conducting surveys as the customers do not have to fill online forms and they can get involved in a voice chat with an AI or just tick mark the checklist.
Chatbots in logistics can assist with the operational aspect of a business where the data comes from multiple sources. Chatbots can help in collecting the data from multiple sources while simplifying and automating processes at the same time.
Managing customers’ orders is a big task as a different state of orders can present a big challenge in collecting and managing all the data.
Managing new orders, orders in progress, canceled orders, delayed orders, unclaimed orders, and orders for replacement/change can be tiresome for managers but not for the chatbots. They can send the collected data directly to the databases that are again automated for classifying the information accordingly.
Warehouse matters are another important aspect that requires adequate management. Using automation in warehouse management can be helpful in dealing with inventories, expected deliveries, floor plans, and tracking information.
Here, the chatbots can be deployed for potential and existing clients/suppliers who can check the warehouse location and additional details so that they can maintain clear communication.
The information about delivery/supply fleet such as the number of vehicles, vehicles on the route, idle vehicles, vehicles under maintenance, and vehicles that are out of order can be updated on automated terminals that provide such information.
The company can also add a limited-access feature for security purposes. Chatbots can fetch this information and offer assistance directly to the potential/existing clients and customers. Such an automated approach will also be helpful in managing and maintaining the company database for every single order.
In the supply-chain management, companies rely heavily on drivers for delivering and bringing-in the products/goods. Here, internal chatbots that can access driver information such as persons on sick leave/vacation, currently working, or standby can be vital as they can offer vital information to the managers who can then manage deliveries as per the available manpower and vehicles.
Chatbots come with specific perks such as reduced costs, improved availability for customers along with better time-management and proactive responses. However, to achieve the desired results, chatbot development should incorporate advanced technologies such as AI, voice recognition and Natural Learning Process (NLP).