Artificial intelligence (AI) systems—particularly chatbots—will have a vital role to play as passengers’ customer service expectations soar.
That’s according to Tim Grosser, IATA’s Head of Digital Transformation, who was speaking in the latest free Airlines International webinar—Meet the BOTS (click here to watch).
We are now seeing consumers demand artificial intelligence across all industries, and aviation is no different
He says global consumer trends are driving this demand, with passengers increasingly becoming ‘mobile-first’, and expecting round-the-clock access to relevant information.
“Passengers want to know their flight status and baggage status, real-time, including changes,” Grosser says.
“Consumers are always expecting the answer 24/7.
“We are now seeing consumers demand artificial intelligence across all industries, and aviation is no different.”
Grosser believes chatbots will provide the most efficient and profitable use of AI technology for airlines, highlighting their ease of use and ability to provide instant answers to passenger queries.
We must be able to factually prove that the machine learns over time
Grosser says it’s vital that chatbots develop their intelligence capabilities, and learn from all interactions.
“We must be able to factually prove that the machine learns over time,” he says.
“Otherwise we just have a really fancy knowledge-based system that we’re communicating through. What’s important to us is that it learns through feedback and positive reinforcement.
“Also, we must focus on a clean handover, if necessary, from a bot to a customer service representative.”
Rahul Panchmatia, Head of Practice & Solutions, Travel & Transportation at Hexaware, explained where bots can enhance an airline’s customer service.
When it comes to loyalty schemes, customers can find out how many points they have via a chatbot
This includes resolving queries relating to flight delays, gate information, and baggage allowances.
“For informational types of questions, you don’t need a customer service agent,” he says.
“For example, we are seeing a lot of calls for cancellation of flights moving from contact centres, to cancelling via chatbots.
“When it comes to loyalty schemes, customers can find out how many points they have via a chatbot, as well as enquire about ancillary services provided on flights—WiFi capability and meals for instance.”
Also speaking in the webinar was flydubai’s Vice President IT, PSS & Customer Experience, Mohammed Ahteshamuddin.
Explaining flydubai’s ‘virtual agent’ bot, he said: “Our focus when building this bot was to build intelligence.
“We are focusing on language and understanding, and machine learning. We can then clearly understand customers’ intent, and anticipate their actions.”