How Kiloutou is fully automating its material return process

To meet the needs of the customers, Kiloutou is setting up a fully automated material return system available 24/7.

5 MIN READ | November 8, 2021
How Kiloutou is fully automating its material return process

In a nutshell

Challenge: Allow customers who have rented equipment from Kiloutou to return it at any time of the day easily without friction.

Solution: Kiloutou provides boxes with an automated instant reservation system to return the equipment. In this process, there is no need for human intervention. So, the material return can be done at any time of the day.


  • Customer satisfaction improvment: Freed from the major constraint of agency opening hours, customers can now return their equipment whenever they want.
  • Workload reduction for team members:
    • After implementing these automated return facilities, team members are freed from managing the operational part of the client-side returning of equipment.
    • With the included technologies, team members can verify in real-time what the contents of the boxes are and when the boxes are emptied. They know when to retrieve the contents of the boxes – For example, in event of any maintenance.
    • The team members also know when to take a cart to retrieve large equipment, which avoids a lot of operational hiccups.


Jean-Marc Seynhaeve is responsible for the Innovation Lab within the Kiloutou Group, a French company specializing in equipment rental. The company is present in the field of construction, public works, or events. Kiloutou offers its services to professionals and individuals.

The Kiloutou innovation laboratory prototypes and tests new services, by developing a clear vision of the company’s future through collaborative workshops. The managers of the innovation laboratory are rethinking the user experience, designing new services, and creating tools to improve their efficiency and better serve their customers.

Kiloutou now has more than 460 rental agencies in France. The rental, as well as the rendering of material, generate tens of thousands of flows per month.

kiloutou global presence

Many customers today would like to be able to return their equipment on weekends and at any time of the day. Ensuring a physical presence on all sites 24 hours a day would be too high a cost.

Jean-Marc was looking for an alternative and digital solution to meet the needs of consumers.


Kiloutou agency where you can give back your materials

Today, Kiloutou team members physically welcome customers to receive their equipment.

Jean-Marc would like to automate the material return process, especially outside the agency’s opening hours, to offer a service that simplifies customers’ lives. The latter can then avoid being freed from certain constraints, such as traffic jams, agency schedules unsuitable for their organization, or the queue at the counter, especially on Monday morning and Friday evening. The system offers new flexibility, such as returning material on weekends or at night.

Kikoutou offers its rental services to both professionals and individuals.

A customer can be in particular:

  • a building professional who rents a concrete mixer;
  • a DJ who rents a generator for an event he hosts;
  • an individual who rents a shampooer to clean his carpet.

As customers are not potentially used to interacting with digital interfaces, they had to find a digital journey that would not confuse them.

Some UX topics needed special attention:

  • What support/point of interaction for instant booking?
  • What interface?
  • What user journey?


The provision of boxes with an automated and secure instant reservation system makes it possible to respond 100% to customer needs.

Boxes were added for testing on the Créteil site. A telephone penalty is in place today to ensure the material return of these boxes. The team member provides a code and a box number so that the customer can return his equipment himself without human intervention on site.

Kiloutou product return boxes

To fully automate the material feedback system while providing a pleasant user experience close to the current process, that is to say, a telephone call, Jean-Marc wanted to set up a chatbot.

The conversational design thus does not confuse customers because it reproduces a conversation, our preferred mode of interaction. The interaction is more human and therefore more suited to more or less digital end-users.

Also, by design, a chatbot will ask one question at a time unlike a classic form, which significantly avoids the abandonment rate. The cognitive load of a step-by-step chatbot is much lower than a form. The brain does not appreciate being overloaded with information and is more inclined to complete a questionnaire completely if asked for one piece of information at a time.

The chatbot via a conversation will ask a few questions and ask the user to perform some actions to create an instant booking.

The way to access the chatbot also arose. You had to be able to access the chatbot from an agency. The digital tool that we all have, namely the telephone, was the interface that had to be used.

Creating a mobile application did not seem like a good idea, the user has to download an application beforehand which is long and laborious. The goal is to provide a frictionless user experience.

The health crisis that we have gone through has democratized the use of QR codes. Jean-Marc then had the idea of adding a QR-code on each box to be able to directly access the chatbot. In addition, there is no account creation step to access the chatbot, so there is no friction.

For people not used to using a QR code, a phone number will also be available on each box. It will then suffice to send an SMS or call this number to automatically receive an SMS with a link to the chatbot.

Kiloutou product return QR code banner

Client-side flow:

Before starting the discussion with the customer, the chatbot will check in real-time in an Airtable database that lists instant reservations if a box is available. If no box is available, the chatbot suggests that the user contact the on-call duty.

If a box is available, the user provides some information such as his first name, last name, phone number, and whether he wishes to return a key or a piece of equipment. He then takes a photo of the material that he returns directly from the Joonbot chatbot.

An email is sent directly after booking containing the details of the information collected in the event of a possible problem.

Kiloutou joonbot conversational paths

After receiving the data, the chatbot creates a reservation in the Airtable file, generates an opening code for the first box available with Igloo home, and sends an SMS with Click Send to the customer with the box number and the opening code.

Kiloutou gets access the list of bookings on Airtable

The customer enters the code, opens the box, and places his equipment there, nothing more!

Flow agency side:

We have created a dashboard for team members directly on Airtable.

This dashboard allows you to see empty and full boxes in a simplified format.

Kiloutou dashboard for agents that can easily see what box needs to be cleaned

To empty a box, the team member from the Airtable file, clicks on the “empty box” button associated with the box he wishes to empty. He thus obtains an Igloo Home code which will allow him to open the box in question.

The team member also has the image of the returned material available. He can thus know in advance whether he needs, for example, a trolley to collect the material. This prevents him from making unnecessary round trips.

A video of the Kiloutou dashboard

Stack used:

  • Joonbot for the instant material rendering system and sending emails
  • Airtable for the management of bookings and the team member’s dashboard
  • Click Send for sending SMS
  • Igloohome for code generation for opening boxes
Joonbot is connected to Airtable, Clicksend and Igloo home to automate Kikoutou rental service

Next steps

This first version, which will be available shortly on the Créteil site, will make it possible to test the new user flow and take customer feedback.

Post POC, the ultimate idea is to deploy boxes on 60 Kiloutou sites in France over one year.

 Camille Franceschi
 CEO, Joonbot

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