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How to extract insights from your voice assistant: Interview with FedEx’s Paul Pugal

December 12, 2023


At PolyAI VOX 2023, Paul Pugal, the Managing Director of Customer Experience for FedEx, UK, and Ireland, sat down with PolyAI’s Brad Stein to share his approach to CX, customer service, and his journey deploying a PolyAI voice assistant.

In part three of this interview, Paul shares some expected and unexpected insights presented by the voice assistant, and how he is thinking about leveraging call data to improve customer experience moving forward.

On understanding customer dissatisfaction

“We learned that we were getting lots of contacts at very specific times for various specific locations,” says Paul. “Through this data, we started to see areas of deficiency. It could be process-related, involve individual logistics, or stem from the quality of submitted paperwork which then drives the contact, which then drives cost and, more importantly, customer dissatisfaction.

“For example, some customers may not believe that they need to fill out XYZ on their shipping paperwork, but then their items get stuck at customs. We’re able to better identify these issues now, and address them proactively.

“A customer doesn’t ring FedEx if they’re happy. They call us when there’s a problem. So every call we get is about an issue. We need to figure out what we do about them.

“We have 200 items of data associated with every package, and we move anywhere between 25 to 30 million packages every night. So we have a lot of data, and we’re now beginning to gather that data within a data lake.

“We’ve identified three or four locations in the UK where clearly we’re getting a disproportionate amount of contact. But according to their statistics, they’re doing really well. Since we’ve identified that, we’re been able to identify some processes, procedures, and data flows that were inaccurate, leading to customer dissatisfaction and thus leading to contact.”

On natural language analytics

Paul has been trialing PolyAI’s new natural language analytics capabilities that allow him to search call data using natural language questions like, What are the most common call types on Saturday mornings?

“We have several million calls worth of data now,” Paul says, “and we’re seeing patterns we didn’t really appreciate before. We’re asking questions and getting insights that we’ve never seen before, leading us down paths we were previously unaware of.

“For example, we were receiving a lot of calls about packages stuck at an airport, one of our biggest gateways in the UK. When we dug into that, we found a lot more queries about the same issues. This enabled us to identify issues at the airport as well as within our own processes. These issues are not related to what we’re seeing and doing from an agent’s perspective. It’s actually much further down the line where the issue is generated, and now we’re able to spot these, ideally before the customer is even aware that there’s a problem in the first place!”

On sharing analytics

Within such a big company, it’s no surprise that different business units are not always following the exact same procedures, meaning there’s a lot to be learned from teams in other areas of the business.

“The data is there now,” Paul says, “and we can share that information widely and quickly. That sharing of knowledge and best practices has really helped. We’ve been able to share knowledge and make improvements in a far simpler and quicker way than we have ever done before.”


FedEx’s journey into voice AI marks a big step forward in tech innovation and customer-centric solutions. Paul’s insights show how smart thinking and flexibility are key in bringing high-tech solutions to a global logistics giant. FedEx faced challenges during the peak of the pandemic and worked through different opinions from stakeholders, highlighting the importance of working with a flexible solutions partner.

The success goes beyond just getting things done faster; it’s about finding the right balance between automation and making customers happy. FedEx is using data to tackle specific issues in different countries and has big plans to expand its approach to being everywhere customers are. This way of doing things sets a strong example for big companies, showing how embracing innovation can transform industries, especially at the intersection of logistics and advanced AI solutions worldwide.

Thank you so much to Paul for joining us at PolyAI VOX!

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