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Home deliveries for customers with disabilities set to be transformed with AI

DHL and HelloDone making delivery work for the disabled (Image: DHL)

Home deliveries for customers with disabilities are set to be improved, with AI technology offering new accessibility options through WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

While online shopping has been a lifeline for many during the pandemic, research shows home deliveries can still create challenges for vulnerable groups, including people with impaired mobility and other disabilities. 

A new partnership between post-purchase technology company HelloDone and DHL Parcel UK aims to change this by integrating popular messaging apps with the carrier’s in-flight parcel tracking, enabling DHL Parcel UK drivers to be updated throughout the “last mile”.

Using HelloDone’s innovative conversational AI technology, customers receiving a delivery through DHL Parcel UK can now update their driver about accessibility requirements for pick up and drop offs (PUDOs).

This includes a ‘Just a Minute’ (JAM) option that alerts drivers they may need to wait longer than usual at a drop off point, so customers with disabilities have time to get to their door. 

The new integration also enables customers to message their driver instructions to leave their parcel in an accessible ‘safe place’ if they’re not going to be at home.

Tracy Hodges, Head of Product, at DHL Parcel UK explains: “Our aim is to provide a high-quality, flexible service to everyone so we are delighted to be able to enhance our accessible delivery service through our relationship with HelloDone.” 

According to a recent study by Citizens Advice, more than a third (39%) of people with disabilities – equal to over 7 million customers – experienced problems with deliveries in a single week last year. Common problems include parcels being left in inaccessible places, customers not having enough time to answer the door and goods not being delivered on time, or at all. 

Sean Sherwin-Smith, General Manager, Post Purchase at HelloDone says: “Customers with disabilities and other impairments are continually faced with undignified and challenging delivery experiences. This disparity in the post-purchase journey has never been more apparent than during the pandemic, with more and more of us shopping online for goods and services. We’re proud to be harnessing our proprietary AI technology to solve common delivery challenges for people with disabilities. Together with the team at DHL Parcel UK, we believe the new accessibility integrations will not only minimise anxiety for customers but support retailers to build trust and loyalty among this vitally important consumer segment – with considerable spending power.”

Unlike the traditional approach, in which accessible delivery options are added to the checkout stage of the purchase journey, HelloDone and DHL Parcel UK’s partnership enables consumers to ‘self-serve’ disability requirements. This means retailers can manage these conversations once a customer’s order is out for delivery, without the need to invest in webstore integrations.

Not only does this simplify what can be a costly and resource intensive process for retailers, but also affords people with disabilities greater control over the post-purchase experience, including the ability to tell drivers how they want their delivery to be made.

Working in partnership with logistics and technology providers, retailers can use these two-way conversations to build the lifetime value of these customers – offering personalised delivery options when they’re needed the most.

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