Hermes Germany Strengthens Conversational Commerce with Userlike

Whether it's online shopping or a private shipment to friends or family, mail is an emotional affair. Customers are excited about receiving their packages or sending gifts for special occasions. That’s why it’s important to give them the possibility to track their package at any time.

The successful logistics and mail service provider Hermes also recognized this. With over 5,500 employees and 16,000 Hermes stores, the company has developed into the largest mail-independent deliverer to private customers in Germany.

Hermes received hundreds of customer inquiries such as "Where is my package?" and "When will my shipment arrive?" on a daily basis. Since employees were already extremely busy, they weren’t always able to respond directly to customer inquiries. They quickly searched for a solution to facilitate mail and shipment tracking, relieve agents and offer efficient service.

The Hamburg company already knew how important it is to respond to the wishes and communication habits of customers. The aim was to give customers quick and reliable answers to questions regarding their package and shipment status. As a result, Hermes decided in March 2019 to expand its customer service with Userlike and a specially developed chatbot named Bo.

Hermes is one of the first customers to use our Chatbot API and have only used Userlike in chatbot mode - and do so very successfully to this day.

Jörn Knauer, Customer Success Manager at Userlike

Today, two years after the introduction of Hermes’ virtual assistant, customers can chat with Bo and customer service agents not only on their website but also via WhatsApp .

First steps with chatbot Bo in customer service

“The decision wasn’t difficult for us. We were convinced by Userlike because of its great software and because it was one of the few communication platforms at the time with the option to connect your own chatbot. We also felt good about our decision during the implementation: everything went smoothly and our chatbot Bo was up and running within a few weeks,” explains Patrick Staufenbiel, process manager at Hermes Germany.

Screenshot of the Hermes website with chatbot Bo
Hermes’ chatbot, Bo, helps customers track their shipments.

Hermes’ chatbot is based on artificial intelligence . This means that it is constantly learning and developing. Bo can assist with questions about shipment tracking, but it can now also help customers redirect their packages. For example, Bo makes it easy to have them delivered to a neighbor or Hermes location.

The same applies to a damaged shipment. In this case, the bot directs the customer to the corresponding claim form directly in the chat.

Bo also ensures that Hermes customers are not left out in the rain — literally. From time to time, the virtual assistant also steps in as a “meteorologist” and informs the customer when it’s raining at their nearest Hermes store.

If the bot gets stuck or receives a complaint, it collects all the necessary information and forwards the conversation to a human agent, who then prioritizes processing these requests.

The specific advantage of Userlike lies in the possibility of integrating our self-developed bot and being able to use one platform for all messaging services. So to be able to operate Whatsapp and website chat with one solution.

Patrick Staufenbiel, process manager at Hermes

WhatsApp as an additional communication channel

In order to meet customers’ need for additional channels, Hermes decided in June 2020 to add WhatsApp as a communication option.

“We wanted to offer our customers a better user experience and be found on the most important channels. Today around 58 million Germans use WhatsApp every day, so it was important to us to give our customers easier access to us. Thanks to Userlike, we were able to expand our customer service to the most popular messaging channel, WhatsApp, and at the same time strengthen conversational commerce, which has increased particularly as a result of the shift from offline to online trading,” said Staufenbiel.

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In the first week, Hermes had more than 600 conversations via WhatsApp with a consistently positive response. “What customers particularly like is the intuitive and familiar nature of communicating using the popular messenger,” added Staufenbiel.

A quarter of the total 40,000 daily customer inquiries reach Bo and the 55 service employees who use both WhatsApp and live chat on the Hermes website.

Both the chatbot and Hermes customer service staff answer inquiries using WhatsApp. Customer messages sent using the website chat on and through Whatsapp are all collected in the Message Center in Userlike, where they can be answered directly.

“After each chat, we ask our customers how thoroughly their concerns were able to be resolved and the feedback has shown us that the chat brings great added value for them. We also noticed how it significantly benefited our customers from our consistently high volume of daily chat requests,” explains Patrick Staufenbiel.

At first, 25 agents operated the chat using WhatsApp, but the number has now risen to 55. This is not only due to a higher chat volume, but also because a human employee can help more quickly with complex inquiries than a bot — like if an address can’t be found during delivery or if a package is lost.

We particularly like the messenger connection. Our customers can reach us 24/7 at any time via WhatsApp - how and when it suits them best.

Patrick Staufenbiel, process manager at Hermes

Hermes is currently planning to expand their chatbot even further both in self-service and its speech. “Customers want a chatbot. We notice this from the fact that there is a high level of acceptance of the channel and that it is used regularly. Thanks to the chatbot, we were able to make processes more efficient, implement customer needs and thus sustainably improve customer satisfaction,” said Staufenbiel.