Future-Proofing Airline Communications with Conversational AI

conversational ai and messaging with airlines

With growth comes challenge

“The entire airline was expanding at unprecedented rates, but this growth was shadowed by anxiety rather than excitement,” recalls John Weiss, Director of Business Operations. “We struggled to manage the flood of customer calls, hire and train staff quickly enough, and meet rising customer expectations. Everything quickly became impossibly expensive and inefficient.”

In an industry as complex and competitive as aviation, seamless communication isn't just an advantage—it's essential. By 2025, messaging and chat are projected to handle 61% of B2C communications. While most airlines have begun to recognise the need to embrace messaging and chat, implementing conversational AI can be daunting.

For John and his team, embracing this innovation became the only way forward when all other options were exhausted.

Addressing airline bottlenecks

“We convened a team meeting to pinpoint our immediate needs,” Weiss recounts. “Although it was reassuring to find common challenges across departments, the pressing time constraints compounded our stress.”

This interdepartmental meeting was tense, but soon it revealed the interconnected deficiencies in their communication strategies:

1. Overwhelming call and chat volumes

As the airline grew, so did the volume of inbound calls and live chats, peaking at 12,000 daily. This overwhelming influx strained customer support agents, especially during peak seasons, compromising the quality of service and triggering a domino effect across departments.

Engineers and the operations team were soon drawn into devising urgent solutions, while Human Resources grappled with rapid hiring and budget depletion.

2. Ineffective automation

Despite having a chatbot in place, the airline struggled with a high call volume that was not only costly but also difficult to manage, resulting in poor customer service. The existing automation was underperforming, with only 31% of customer interactions being resolved effectively through the current solution. The airline was not fully leveraging the potential of shifting traffic from phone to messaging and chat, missing out on opportunities to improve efficiency and enhance the customer experience.

3. Inability to meet response demands

Support case bottlenecks became a major issue. Complex queries that surpassed simple automated responses piled pressure on customer support agents, leading to extended wait times and dissatisfaction among customers.

4. Inflexible channel switching

Complex customer interactions—such as rebookings, seat selections, and transactions—often required shifting out of chat channels. This lack of seamless channel integration not only led to redundant processes but also prolonged resolution times for customer cases.

These insights from the meeting highlighted the urgent need for a comprehensive overhaul of communication strategies to enhance efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Implementing conversational AI

As the pressures mounted, John Weiss and his team recognised the need for a transformative approach. "We needed a solution that wasn't just a band-aid but a fundamental shift in how we handle customer communications," John emphasised.

In a market increasingly dominated by WhatsApp, it became evident that this platform needed to be their primary focus. The existing text-only chatbot was efficient at providing immediate responses but fell short when it came to resolving issues comprehensively and truly satisfying customer needs.

After thorough research and several consultations, they chose to collaborate with Hubtype. Together, they developed a tailored conversational ecosystem, specifically designed to address the unique challenges of the airline industry.

Results from automating customer communications in airlines

Streamlined multi-channel communications

The initial step was to integrate conversational AI across all communication channels effectively. Their tailor-made solution enabled the airline to manage these diverse platforms through a single, unified system while connecting seamlessly with their existing CRM, ensuring that no customer query was overlooked.

Customers no longer needed to be transferred from one channel to another. They could now handle complex transactions like rebookings and baggage check-ins directly within their preferred messaging apps, where they already feel most comfortable.

Instead of completely rebuilding their systems as they once thought necessary, the team smartly expanded and optimized their existing infrastructure. This improvement made their communications framework much more efficient, akin to adding a well-designed extension to an already solid house.

conversational ai automation in airlines

Dramatic reduction in call volume and wait times

By implementing conversational AI to automate both routine inquiries and complex tasks, the system significantly decreased the number of calls and live chats that required human intervention.

“Within just a few months, our automation was handling over 70% of customer interactions, a stark increase from the previous 28%,” remarked the Director of Customer Service. “This success allowed our team to take a much-needed breath of fresh air.”

This transformative shift not only relieved agents from the burden of handling basic queries but also dramatically reduced wait times for customers, substantially improving their overall experience.

Improved quality of customer interactions

The AI system, equipped with advanced natural language processing capabilities, could understand and respond to a broad spectrum of customer inquiries with a high degree of personalization.

"Customers no longer felt like they were talking to a robot. The interactions became more human-like, significantly enhancing satisfaction rates," John observed.

With its ability to process customers intents—identifying and addressing the underlying issues in customer queries—the AI system drastically reduced the overall case resolution time by nearly 40%. This not only sped up the service but also allowed for more sophisticated problem-solving, directly contributing to a smoother and more satisfying customer experience

messaging and chat automation with airlines

Operational efficiency and cost savings

The introduction of conversational AI markedly transformed the airline's operational dynamics. With the AI handling a significant volume of routine interactions, Human Resources noted a reduced urgency to hire new agents. The existing team, supported effectively by AI, managed to handle an increased workload more efficiently.

This shift led to substantial cost savings, allowing the company to allocate funds more strategically towards staff training and development. Investing in these areas ensured that the team was not only adept at using the new technology but also well-prepared to deliver enhanced customer service. This strategic reallocation of resources has bolstered both the capability and satisfaction of the workforce, contributing to the overall success of the implementation.

Future-proofing through continuous learning and adaptation

Perhaps most importantly, Hubtype’s conversational AI was designed to learn and adapt continuously.

"The system gets smarter with each interaction," John observed. "It understands intents in a way that I didn’t recognise as a possibility. We’re finding that it’s preparing us for tomorrow’s challenges as well."

As the AI collected more data, it offered increasingly insightful recommendations for further improving customer service tactics and operational strategies.

Securing the future of travel with AI

Travel is a significant investment, and consumers rightfully expect top-tier service. Forward-thinking companies are quickly recognizing that delivering this white glove experience—without the burden of additional daily tasks—is a strategic move into the future.

By adopting conversational AI, John Weiss and his team have effectively addressed the immediate operational challenges plaguing their airline. More importantly, they've laid a robust foundation for ongoing growth and innovation. Leveraging the transformative power of AI-driven technologies has not only enhanced their operational efficiencies and customer interactions but has also positioned their airline as a pioneer in customer-centric innovation. 

As they continue to evolve, they are perfectly aligned to meet the dynamic needs of modern travellers, maintaining a competitive edge in a rapidly changing industry.