What is an airline chatbot?
An airline chatbot is a conversational app that provides real-time answers to customers' questions. It allows them to book, amend, check-in, or track flights, and can even assist them with planning and customizing their trip.
In recent years, we have seen the use of chatbots soaring upwards within the travel industry. This is because airlines are witnessing customers’ inevitable preference for easy-to-use messaging platforms, over time-wasting phone calls, when managing their travel matters. Because from families, to frequent flyers, travel matters.
That’s why it’s no surprise that many airlines have already shifted their approach to customer service, and capitalized on the AI (Artificial Intelligence) wave, by integrating a conversational app into their customer experience strategy.
What are the benefits of airline chatbots?
The benefits of airline chatbots are two-fold. Not only can they save airlines, and their customers, valuable time, but they can also reduce costs. Let’s take a closer look at some of the main benefits for both airlines and customers alike.
Benefits of airline chatbots for customers:
Quicker and easier than ever
Forget about the lengthy back and forth email threads with customer service, or the hours spent on hold on the phone. With an airline chatbot, customers can now get answers to their queries in seconds, and best of all, they can get them using a clear, simple, and user-friendly interface. In fact, 69% of consumers prefer to use chatbots because they provide instant responses. (Salesforce)
Higher customer satisfaction rates
Airline chatbots have been shown to create a more enjoyable, and most importantly, less frustrating, customer experience compared to other channels like phone or email. According to eDigital’s customer service study, messaging support had the highest satisfaction levels at 73%, compared with 61% for email, and only 44% for phone. Reasons for this included; the ability to multitask whilst chatting, more in-depth information than other channels, and a simple dislike for talking on the phone. (Which is increasingly common nowadays!)
Chatbot benefits for airlines:
Needless to say, if a airline’s customers are happier, then naturally they are happier too. However the benefits for airlines don’t stop there.
Time-saving and scalability
With a conversational app, airlines can now reach more customers faster, therefore unlocking the potential for scalable customer service. What previously may have required hours of phone calls for human agents, can now be automated instantly, thanks to the use of AI. This allows for a higher capacity for requests, and more potential scope for the customer service department.
SLA’s and cost-reduction
Just as a chatbot can considerably lower an airline’s response and resolution times, it can also have a direct impact on their SLAs, improving them as much as from a matter of hours, to minutes. As the time and resources required to resolve requests decreases, so do the costs for the human capital in the customer service department, in turn saving the airline money.
Airline chatbot use cases
Now that it’s clear just how many benefits a chatbot can bring to an airline, it’s time to delve deeper into what exactly these apps are capable of doing - and trust us, it’s more than one might expect!
Search and book flights
The first, and perhaps most obvious, function of an airline chatbot would be speeding up and simplifying the flight search and booking process. Instead of trawling through countless flight options, a customer can simply start a conversation with an airline’s chat bot, specifying when and where they want to go, and the chatbot will automatically find them their ideal flight. The customer can then go on to reserve and pay for their flight tickets right there in the chat, completing their customer journey frictionlessly, within minutes.
Over the last seven years, Statista’s studies show that the number of passengers checking-in to their flights at the airport check-in desk has dropped from 49%, to just 27%. Checking-in online via a conversational app benefits both passengers and airlines in multiple ways, first and foremost; time efficiency.
Chatbots can help customers avoid standing around in queues for hours, stressing about whether they’ll make it to the gate on time. The impact of this on the airline? A reduction in airport labor and printing costs, saving them both time and money - It’s a win-win!
Flight tracking and updates
What’s the next most frustrating thing for a customer waiting to catch a flight? Constantly checking if it's on time, delayed or canceled. Or, worse still, not checking and missing it altogether! Conversational apps can help eradicate these problems by sending passengers automated updates about the status of their flight, or any changes to their journey through their mobile device.
When we take into account that Chatbots have over a 90% open rate, compared to just 22% for emails (LinkedIin), they can also help passengers avoid a lot of unnecessary frustration. Ultimately, this could be the difference between a customer choosing to fly with the same airline again, or not.
Upselling personalized offers
The sky is not the limit when it comes to what an airline chatbot can offer its customers. One of the many advantages of chatbots for airlines is the capability to upsell and promote additional products, services, and experiences to existing passengers.
Based on the traveler's profile, the AI chatbot can offer personalized or exclusive deals which are tailored specifically to each customer's individual needs and travel-purposes. For example, offering a family in-flight meals and entertainment for children, or upselling business lounge access to a passenger who is traveling for work. This can increase revenue, whilst simultaneously providing a more enjoyable experience for their passengers, and therefore improving their customer relationship and loyalty.
Baggage claims and refunds
Other than missing a flight itself, losing luggage is one of most passengers' biggest concerns when traveling. And the process of retrieving it again is almost always just as problematic. With a chatbot, airlines can streamline this process, making an understandably stressful situation as smooth as possible for the passenger, by giving them real-time information on the location of their luggage.
The chatbot can even assist them in filling in the baggage reclaim form, as well as being able to request and process refunds and reimbursements. All of which can be done from the comfort of the conversational app. No more sitting on hold listening to elevator music, with a voice telling you that the expected wait time is two hours, thirty-eight minutes!
Which airline companies are using chatbots?
What better way to exemplify the capabilities and benefits of these chatbots, than to check out some real-world examples of airlines using them to improve their customer experience strategy.
Some of the airlines who are already reaping the rewards of their AI chatbots include:
- British Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- Gol airlines
Another airline whose chatbot has really taken off is EasyJet. Their conversational AI app was created specifically to cater to the needs of their passengers, using Hubtype’s technology. It is completely interactive with graphical-elements and automated using AI to deliver fast and efficient customer service to their clients.
Check it out for yourself here:
For a more in depth example, take a look at this sample demo for ‘Hubair’ below:
Ready for take-off
As you can see, chatbots are revolutionizing customer service for both airlines and passengers alike. If you’d like to get on board, and are interested in creating a conversational app for your airline, book a demo today to learn how Hubtype can help you improve your customer’s experience.