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Telecommunications company Sprint to employ Pepper robot for customer relations

US telecommunications company Sprint is employing Pepper, the humanoid robot from SoftBank Robotics, for customer relations.

SoftBank Robotics America and Sprint to will initially place Pepper in locations where it will interact with Sprint business clients and retail customers.

Pepper is said to be the first humanoid marketing platform that could help businesses and consumers embrace the power of robotics and artificial intelligence. 

SoftBank Robotics America, a division of Japanese telecommunications giant SoftBank, and sister company Sprint, say their strategic partnership will bring Pepper to Sprint business clients and retail customers nationwide.

Pepper is the most recognisable humanoid robots, and is often used as marketing platform. It was built to support businesses by proactively engaging with customers.

Pepper’s specific marketing applications help create awareness and brand affinity, and will ultimately help businesses achieve goals and return on investment through unique experiences and gathering of customer insights.

For the US market, two out-of-the-box solutions are available to Pepper customers – Pepper Promoter and Pepper Host. Both applications allow businesses to leverage Pepper’s platform and form factor to proactively deliver content and messages to the user.

Steve Carlin, chief strategy officer, SoftBank Robotics America, says: “SoftBank Robotics America and Sprint are poised to provide Sprint’s business and retail customers the opportunity to harness the power of interactive robotics through Pepper’s platform.

“Pepper adds an unparalleled touch of warmth and empathy to each interaction, while delivering actionable insights for our customers. We look forward to deepening the existing relationship with Sprint and bringing Pepper to its customers through this partnership.”

Sprint Business has aligned with SBRA as a referral pathway for Pepper. The Sprint business team will now bring the power of robotics to its enterprise clients and be a key support system as Pepper becomes more widely available in the US over the next year.

Mohamad Nasser, general manager of Sprint’s internet of things business unit, says: “Sprint is thrilled to have the opportunity to offer Pepper to our customers and prospects.

“Pepper’s innovative form factor brings artificial intelligence to life. By giving our customers access to this technology, we will help them grow their business. Launching Pepper also demonstrates Sprint’s commitment to deliver the latest technologies to business customers, even beyond those typical for carriers.

“Pepper has demonstrated globally the ability to engage and inspire people, and we are excited to help bring Pepper to US businesses.”

Sprint business clients who commit to using Pepper will have the option to use either the Pepper Promoter or the Pepper Host content management system, depending on the business use case and with options for dedicated programming and campaign development.

Robotics technology will change the way we do business, and for retail that means keeping customer experiences unique and fresh.

Pepper’s ability to proactively engage customers and draw them into a store will ultimately build brand affinity and keep them coming back.

Pepper’s original business use case was to surprise and delight retail customers in Japan.

Now Sprint is proud to team with SoftBank Robotics to bring Pepper to its US customers with an upcoming pilot program that will launch in the fourth quarter of 2017.

This Pepper for Retail program will include several Sprint retail stores nationwide and will expand the opportunity for U.S. consumers to experience Pepper firsthand.

Kevin Crull, president of omnichannel sales for Sprint, says: “SoftBank Robotics has a proven track record with Pepper that illustrates the benefits of robotics and artificial intelligence in the retail experience.

“We know that Pepper helps retailers hone messaging based on the information collected through consumer engagements.

“In the first phase, we will test and learn how our US customers react to and engage with Pepper while determining how robotics might fit more broadly into the Sprint retail environment.

“We are excited to launch the pilot program and test Pepper’s capabilities as a new marketing platform.”

Sprint’s network team will be one of the first in the US to test and develop on the Pepper platform for the mobile space.

The team’s phased approach will include leveraging Pepper’s software to study human interactions with the form factor, and to connect and test Sprint’s growing network of mobile and enterprise applications on a robot, eventually influencing future development opportunities on the Pepper platform.

Dr Ron Marquardt, vice president of technology at Sprint, says: “Robotics and artificial intelligence are two of the fastest growing technology categories today.

“Pepper presents a platform for tremendous innovation by integrating cellular connectivity into robotic services and developing new applications, such as accessibility for the blind or hearing impaired.”