Every business can benefit from improving customer experience and increasing employee productivity, but for industries affected by volatile external factors, this is especially essential. The airline industry faces unavoidable risk from the weather, fluctuating fuel costs, and geo-political events, among other external variables. But while these factors remain to a large extent outside their control, airlines often experience higher levels of customer dissatisfaction and decreased worker satisfaction and productivity as a result.
Customers, too, have changed. They’re fickle and swap providers without hesitation. There are several behavioral factors impacting airline customer loyalty today:
- Frequent-flier programs have become more complex and spend-based. They lack differentiation, putting the loyalty of even the most frequent of frequent fliers at risk.
- We live in an era in which mobile app engagement has become increasingly difficult. Users have become extremely selective about the apps they choose to download and keep on their phones.
- The rise of messaging platforms and their growing capability for more sophisticated functions than just text, including visual cards and voice, has opened up a whole new medium for user engagement.
Research shows that airline companies are recognizing the mounting importance of improving digital interfaces. The market for AI in aviation is expected to reach $2.2 billion in 2025; And indeed, according to SITA’s Passenger IT Trends Survey 2017, nearly 90% of customers book their flights using self-service technologies. 64% of passengers check-in online and passenger satisfaction is significantly higher when baggage collection and tracking is automated.
In this climate, it has become vital to give customers the convenient, personalized digital experience they have come to expect across the board, from booking to in-flight entertainment to baggage tracking. In a hyper-competitive industry, airlines are scrambling to make the customer experience accessible, enjoyable and convenient. While the ability to predict and ameliorate the impact of external factors remains limited, it is imperative for airlines to focus on what they can control: the user experience.
The popularity of messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Skype and WhatsApp provides a readymade user base for airlines. And with the sheer volume of users on these platforms today (Facebook Messenger has 1.3 billion users), it just makes sense to leverage that base. A chatbot on these platforms can provide all the functionality of a mobile app without the hassle of downloads or registration. Accessing and using a chatbot is as simple as adding a contact to the messaging platform.
A sophisticated, customizable chatbot can transform the user experience for every customer — be it the jet-setting frequent flier or the deal-seeking budget-conscious vacationer. With NLP and guided language flow, bots can be intuitive and easy-to-use. They can expedite anything from booking to check-in to baggage tracking and will proactively notify customers about the status of their flight, gate changes and pre-departure information. While booking a flight, results can be sorted by price, departure and arrival time, number of stops and duration of flight. Although this functionality is already available on mobile apps, a bot provides much-needed simplification and streamlining of access.
At PopcornApps, we believe in building innovative solutions that address a business objective or the pain point of an industry.
Our bot extends support across enterprise functions. It can help employees and ground staff with disruption management to alleviate long lines at counters. It can provide boarding assistance at gates and allow gate agents to respond promptly to queries about seat assignments and baggage check, while they focus on their core responsibility to turn around flights safely and efficiently at the gate. It can also send notifications to on-call staff, seek confirmations if they need additional staff, and offer live polling support for shift bidding.
Our bot also assists with customer support — FAQs (baggage allowance, tracking, insurance, routes, in-flight menu and entertainment), PNR management (reservation, changes and cancellation), Member and Frequent Flier queries, and case management. With its multilingual capabilities, it can also do this in Spanish! Or another language of your choosing.
We use the Microsoft Bot Framework, leveraging APIs and existing infrastructure, to create a versatile bot that can be deployed in multiple channels with minimal work. We’ve partnered with Amadeus, the Global Distribution System (GDS) services company that manages the passenger service systems of more than 200 airlines worldwide, and have a working prototype with Sabre, another significant GDS company. We can adapt our template to various platforms including Facebook Messenger, Skype, Cortana, Kik Messenger and Web Chat, as well as create Custom Apps.
We’ve already created highly successful chatbots for the UK Rail and Indian Railways (one of the largest railway systems in the world). With our partnerships, tech expertise, and understanding of the industry, we nimbly engineer custom solutions that are cost-effective yet top-of-line, efficient and uniquely suited to your organization.
Your perfect chatbot is just a click away.
Originally published at PopcornApps on July 10, 2019.