How Pitney Bowes Is Using Chatbots To Anticipate CRM Problems

Predictive engagement brings location data and artificial intelligence to bear on anticipating consumer problems, says Pitney Bowes VP Chris Hall.

Pitney Bowes is continuing to update the way its enterprise clients manage billing and other customer service issues by looking to artificial intelligence to power messaging consumers via the latest forms of communication.

Specifically, as the company updates its year-old Communicate software suite to now include video, as well as email, text, and push notifications, the company is experimenting with chatbots and the use of Amazon Echo and its voice-activated intelligent assistant, Alexa.

“We have prototypes for chatbots and Facebook Messenger for billing use cases, for example,” said Chris Hall, Pitney Bowes’ VP of Customer Engagement Solutions. “These are just other mediums where customers are. And we have to match their needs to those emerging mediums. We’ve already an Amazon Echo skill into Alexa that will soon seem like a typical thing for all businesses to do in terms of communicating one-on-one with their customers.”

Predicting Problems

The company is also exploring new uses for what Pitney Bowes calls “predictive engagement.”

Hall offers an example of using data to anticipate consumers’ complaints when the “unusual” happens. Take billing cycles. Consumers and businesses generally count on a certain regularity there.But when something changes to that cycle, businesses have to not just be ready, they have to be there in advance.

In an anecdote, Hall noted that he’s been traveling overseas more often. And that has had an effect on his monthly phone bill. Despite the international cell phone plans, it’s pretty typical that most customers end up being charged more when that plan runs out of data.

“You can have a chatbot that picks up on a spike in a billing period and approach the consumer and let them know why their bill is higher this month,” Hall said. “You might even be able to offer that customer a solution. That helps head off any frustrated calls that a consumer is likely to make. And bringing together that data allows us to do that more effectively.”

Now Playing: Your Bill

The new capabilities of Pitney Bowes’ software suite is being focused around a digital engagement process that recognizes that communication channels are blurred as customers expect more personalized solutions. Some people still prefer print for their connections, while others might want a direct response to customer feedback in a video.

Pitney Bowes’ EngageOne Video solution that combines video with user data, such as location information, to deliver interactive, personalized video to help brands enhance customer engagement, and “increase expert interaction without the overhead and reduce call center costs.”

Through a new partnership with Rapt Media, clients across Telecommunications, Insurance, Utilities and Financial Services industries can now access four video templates to expedite the return on investment in about 21 days, Hall says.

Meanwhile, Pointsource is helping to support Pitney Bowes’ move into messaging as a replacement for printed billing and other enterprise materials.

“An organization’s success comes down to two things: personalization and context,” said Mike Chadwick, Head of Business Development, PointSource. “Our partnership with Pitney Bowes provides organizations with technology solutions that can deliver context through proprietary data to engage and communicate better through personalized offers and messaging.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.