Artificial Intelligence (AI) has disrupted how airlines manage their data, operations, and revenue. Airlines worldwide are already using AI and automation to improve operational efficiency, avoid mistakes that can cost high, and improve customer satisfaction. There has been a significant shift to automation, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. A 2020 report by SITA shows that 89% of airports focus on check-in via mobile and kiosk, and 79% have enabled bag tags at the kiosk. The report also mentions that airlines have doubled their investments in automation. For example, 84% of airlines have introduced touchless check-in via kiosk and mobile, while 97% of the airline are utilizing their budgets for applications for passenger mobile services.
Chatbots are helping airlines communicate effectively with passengers and provide phenomenal experiences.
Virtual Assistants / Conversational Bots in Airline Industry Today
Virtual assistants help airlines improve their pilots’ productivity and efficiency by reducing repetitive tasks, such as changing radio channels, reading wind forecasts, and providing on-demand position information. Virtual assistants handle these repetitive tasks. Companies such as Garmin (USA) offer AI-enabled audio panels that are useful for pilots.
Airlines also use these assistants to improve customer service. For example – Virtual assistance with AI provides quick responses to simple questions (FAQs). These FAQs include flight status or services/offers (audio, video, Wi-Fi), reservations, baggage queries, seat availability, etc. This allows customer service representatives to attend to and respond to more critical questions than simple and recurring FAQs. These virtual assistants help passengers book tickets and plan trips, too. Almost all airlines have created apps to help customers across various travel-related tasks.
Conversational Bots in Customer Service and Retention:
Today, AI is helping airlines to optimize pricing strategies, raise customer satisfaction rates, customer retention & engagement, and improve the overall flight experience. Below is a list of potential AI use cases for the Airline industry:
Chatbot software and customer service automation: Kayak, a famous American travel booking agency, lets you plan your next trip directly from your Facebook Messenger app. The Chatbot understands simple questions and responds conversationally like human agents.
Conversational IVR: Enables calls for automation or semi-automation of the contact center’s processes, thereby increasing the agents’ efficiency.
According to Gartner, Advanced Virtual Assistants (AVA) are the next big step in today’s chatbots. AVAs are powered by natural language processing (NLP), generating conversational and intuitive sessions and semantic and deep learning techniques such as deep neural networks (DNNs).
Benefits of Conversational Bots in the Airline Industry:
AI chatbots are an innovative technological breakthrough that is gaining popularity worldwide. Userlike conducted a survey where 80% of the respondents confirmed that they had interacted with chatbots. Airlines are investing in chatbot development to address their critical operational and service-related issues. Below are some ways chatbots are making airlines smarter, better, and more efficient.
Improved customer service: Chatbots can handle customer inquiries 24/7 and provide real-time information in an emergency to the customer. At the same time, chatbots don’t have time zone and language barriers as they can be programmed to work according to your customer’s needs.
When customers have a chatbot that answers all their questions, it results in a better customer experience that strengthens the brand image.
Higher engagement: Chatbots can improve customer engagement by providing information, helping customers book airline tickets, fulfilling customer requests, and gathering all the information in one place. This engages the customer better than waiting a long time to contact an airline representative over the phone.
Revenue growth opportunities: Chatbots are increasingly evolving from customer support intermediaries to flexible solutions that can take advantage of sales opportunities. Airlines have increased conversion rates and sales by adding payment gateways, offers, and transaction capabilities to chatbots.
According to Juniper, 47% of consumers are open to using a chatbot to make a purchase, and chatbots will account for $112 billion in retail sales by 2023. This creates a tremendous opportunity to sell more in-flight services/other services to airlines.
Streamlined and integrated data access: Chatbots can collect all flight-related information and data and make it available on the platform that customers can access from anywhere and anytime. Chatbots can record all customer conversations and provide airlines with helpful information about their preferences, booking history, issues, etc. Optimized data access for end customers and airlines can make the industry more efficient.
Saves time and efforts: By integrating an omnichannel conversational bot, airlines can save time and effort handling customer inquiries. Because chatbots can continuously respond to simple and recurring requests 24/7, businesses can hire staff for more valuable tasks, activities, and issues. This saves time and energy and ultimately leads to efficiencies in customer service and engagement processes.
Economical query resolution solution for airlines: Developing a chatbot that works 24/7 is a much more cost-effective option for airlines than hiring and paying staff. Once set and implemented, chatbots can automate the request resolution process. This reduces the need to refer customer inquiries to a maintenance center, which reduces operational costs.
With the increasing investments by airlines in conversational AI, IGT Solutions has partnered with platform providers, such as Uniphore, and LivePerson, amongst others, that provide chatbot platforms along with intelligent insights and analytical capabilities, which IGT can further offer to their clients. These partnerships help IGT Solutions to create a base conversational platform for all existing and opportunistic clients and offer better and customized solutions. IGT has developed 12 different chatbots for a leading American Airline, improving customer satisfaction for the client. If you want similar results for your business, contact us today!
Apurva Sale is a Lead Business Consultant at IGT Solutions’ Intelligent Automation and Conversational Analytics Practice. She is an Analytics expert with 8 years of experience across Travel, Telecom and Retail domain. With a strong background of Business & Data Analytics, Apurva has extensively worked on elevating customer experience with Insights & sentiment analysis, Social Media Analysis & Insights. She can be reached at Apurva.firstname.lastname@example.org