How to build voice tools for mobile workers
The mobile workforce is changing in terms of demographic, but remains essential to our economy. One thing is a constant: people need tools to maintain a competitive edge. Here’s how we augment workflows by building relevant solutions that speak the language of logistics.
Who are the mobile workforce?
If you’re reading this from your desk — or, in the new era of remote working, from your coffee table — then you’re in the minority. Globally, just a fifth of workers do their jobs from behind a desk.
One of the great pillars of our modern economy is formed of people who keep the trucks rolling, our internet shopping delivered, and our letterboxes stocked with newspapers every morning. The recent global health crisis has thrown this economy into particularly sharp relief. These people are some of the most prominent mobile workers, and CEP services (Courier, Express and Parcel) form a significant segment of this workforce.
According to IBM, the traditional definition of mobile workers runs as follows:
…a group of employees that isn’t bound by a central physical location. Instead, the employees are connected by various types of mobile technology: computers, smartphones and other mobile devices.
At German Autolabs we have a lot of experience working with voice assistants for people on the move — hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, mind on the traffic — and we saw a great opportunity to improve the day-to-day workflows of mobile workers in logistics. Improve on a level of relevance far beyond playful ides such as parcel drones or autonomous robots delivering your goods.
To visualize the importance of relevance, we sketched out a Maslow hierarchy to show where a smart voice assistant will tackle KPIs.
Why do mobile workers need access to technology?
Mobile workers in CEP take part in a dynamic environment where variables are constantly changing, from time-critical priority parcels to special delivery instructions, traffic and weather conditions and collections requests coming in throughout the day. It’s a job that demands high levels of mobility by its nature, and this presents unique challenges.
By definition, there is no opportunity for mobile workers to operate remotely, and flexibility of shift patterns is also limited. Here’s an apposite example: newspaper delivery, a task that needs need to be finished by 06:00am.
Why not digitize the nightly workflow with a specific Courier Assistant that:
- helps to navigate the perfect route
- significantly reduces the amount of delivery errors and failures
- proactively provides specific delivery instructions for each and every newspaper
Certain industry sectors might be regarded as old fashioned, but this does not mean that they should be denied access to game-changing technology.
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
George Bernard Shaw
Good communications are another vital component in logistics workflow and customer experience. If you’ve ever waited in all day for a parcel that promised to turn up but didn’t, then you know all about it. This is why we felt that last mile CEP services would benefit from disruptive new voice powers.
Our Parcel Assistant was built for a DHL UK in cooperation with Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and tested in over 7500 parcel drops. The benefits were significant:
- 10% more parcels successfully shipped
- 50% fewer claims due to incorrect delivery
- 94% less usage of handheld devices while driving
- 76% efficiency boost for new drivers
You can read the full field report here.
Language barriers can present major challenges in many walks of life, and this brought us the idea of Dispatch Assistant. We’ve designed Dispatch Assistant to help dispatchers communicate with drivers, and we’re very excited about the potential it holds.
Dispatchers and delivery people frequently do not speak the same language. The assistant acts as an interface between them — with the powerful extra capability of not only translating but also running a smart dialogue with the driver to extract the contextual information that dispatch really needs. This is AI-powered voice assistance, and the potential for it is enormous.
Three principles we use to build solutions
Here are the our essential takeaways. When building assistance solutions for logistics, we have a few mantras in product development that help to guide us along the way. These are:
Provide workers with access to information that helps them to perform their jobs quicker and more easily. Give people new abilities.
Routine workflows can be repetitive and inefficient. Automate simple operating procedures and free your deskless workforce.
Once a deskless worker leaves HQ, staying in touch can be tricky. AI tools like smart dialogues with in-line translation make life easier for both parties.
German Autolabs vision is to create a brighter future for logistics workers with intelligent, easy-to-use technology. To find out how we can help your business, head to germanautolabs.com. Thank you for reading.