How AI can help fix airline customer service hold times during the covid-19 pandemic
It is evident that customers are not best friends with the airline industry in terms of customer service provision. While it is a beautiful experience, air travel is a stressful event involving many inconveniences and time wasted resolving matters like missed connections, lost luggage, or poor in-flight services.
While customer service agents are doing their best to handle and respond to every query as best as possible, artificial intelligence is stepping up to help them mend their relationships with customers.
Read through the post to discover the importance of artificial intelligence in the airline industry, especially how it can help fix airline customer service hold times during these covid-19 pandemic seasons.
Artificial intelligence in the airline industry-how it can help fix customer service hold times.
Forward-thinking airline companies have already started to see the importance of implementing AI technology alongside their customer service agents to help alleviate increasing airline customer service demands.
In fact, according to statistics, 52% of major airline brands are planning to implement AI in their customer service functions for the next five years. This is because when added alongside human reps, artificial intelligence can reduce airline customer service hold times and take the entire service to the next level.
Also, brands need not confuse the ultra-modern AI systems with chatbots, which have stayed around for some time now. While chatbots can provide automated solutions based on pre-set instructions and formats, AI has the ability to learn with time and start working alongside customer service teams. (Not just working for them).
Here is how sophisticated AI systems is helping airline brands provide innovative and effective customer service experience and develop in other areas.
Resolve issues much quicker.
Airline companies already have the ability to formulate initial feedback fairly quickly through various means like a chatbot that directs a query to pre-set pages or delivering instantaneous email confirming to the customer that their question is received.
However, while these are both vital technology applications, none can actually resolve the matter at hand. It will require the client to take extra steps or the customer service agent to step in and solve the issue, extending the Mean Time Resolution (MTR), a factor that is so vital to the airline support teams.
Fortunately, artificial intelligence in the airline industry is changing this narrative since their feedback is in-depth, accurate, and much quicker than the ordinary chatbot-enabled system.
Instead of following pre-set instructions and formatting, AI assimilates data and provides personalized responses that resolve the problem quickly.
This extends to issues that are handled by human agents. For instance, when a client calls in, AI can continue with resolving other issues while the human rep is on call, reducing the customer service hold times and piling of unresolved issues.
Suggesting future flights and upcoming trips.
Being a fiercely competitive industry, the airline has a major challenge of customer retention. One poor customer service experience is enough to send your clients to your competitor or another airline branch.
And even if customers stick with a particular brand, they might do so because of other reasons such as fair prices, miles covered, or level of convenience. Though enthusiastic customer loyalty is important, long-term revenue growth is most preferred by airlines.
Generally, direct marketing and promotions are the driving force towards achieving revenue growth per customer. However, the prevalence of artificial intelligence in call centers and customer support has made it easier to run customer service and sales functions simultaneously.
For example, if a customer checks in with an issue, the system can recommend the type of flight you may like or future trips based on your traveling history and patterns after the issue is resolved.
Also, the AI will take some days after the first encounter to call the passenger at the most convenient or appropriate time based on the insights.
Integrating with IoT and smart homes.
Internet of things and connected smart homes are two consumer trends affecting almost every industry, including airlines. Passengers can get updates on flight details through their smartwatches or an AI-powered assistant like Amazon Alexa at home.
As technology continues evolving, airlines can integrate the personalized customer service AI to boost the entire customer experience.
Though it is still hypothetical, an AI system can get into the caller’s FitBit information, detect how upset they are when calling, and offer you customized feedback based on the insight from the calling history.
Also, research is ongoing on how to use the same biometric data inflight to provide better customer care and service based on parameters such as heart rate and body temperature.
Furthermore, airline companies are beginning to adopt smart home technologies with their own AI. For instance, United Airlines tested a smart home app called “United skill,” which works alongside Amazon Alexa to give voice-enabled customer service.
Passengers can use their smart devices to access United Skill to inquire about flight updates, ask the best way to resolve an issue, or check themselves in. It is projected that the smart home-enabled artificial intelligence could pass some problems to the human agent and allow customers to solve their problems hands-free.
Help protect the emotional wellbeing of customer service agents
One research by The Atlantic points that the emotional tasks usually performed by individuals doing customer service jobs like calming nerves, smiling through rudeness, and continuous control of one’s emotions have an effect that is described as a “uniformly negative effect on workers.”
Customer service is the industry with the highest attrition rates, having a turnover rate of 30-40%. Keeping the service teams happy and motivated, at the very least, may make them improve the quality of their work and engagement with customers.
AI can help keep agents’ emotional wellbeing safe in several ways. Basically, it reduces the work burden and extra responsibilities. By offloading mindless works, human reps are motivated to focus on tasks that require high-level thinking and not feel overwhelmed by the piling jobs.
AI also uses sentiment analysis to direct anxious and frustrated customers to the right agent. For instance, the system will route a frustrated client to an agent who has spent at least 30 minutes after handling a problematic customer, sparing the one who has just finished a session with a similar client.
Helps in providing proactive customer service.
The most effective way to help customer service agents during peak hours is to prevent incoming tickets. In the event when there is a policy change like rebooking eligibility or unexpected circumstances that affect customer service availability, AI-enabled agents can reach the clients with the required information and solution to the problem.
Doing this will prevent customers from sending the same email repeatedly or making a follow-up phone call.
Know what the passengers want before asking.
Artificial intelligence has the ability to act like a mind reader, an ability owing to its built-in predictive feature. This technology can be a helpful support tool by giving suggestions or help before a passenger becomes frustrated, which cannot be achieved by human reps.
For instance, implementing artificial intelligence in the airline industry triggers a conversational chat box to pop up with suggestions or resolutions that match passengers’ queries.
Artificial intelligence uses a predictive routing feature based on machine learning to merge current and past passengers’ behaviors to get insights into what factors influence customer behavior. These data allow the support team to step up and offer a fitting solution based on passenger’s preference.
AI’s predictive feature can lead to a resolution success rate of up to 99%, reducing customer service hold times in the airline sector.
Assists in aircraft maintenance
Airplanes are not only difficult to fly, but they are also very costly to maintain. Engine makers, airlines, and aircraft leasing companies spend millions of dollars annually to ensure these machines are in good condition.
Luckily, AI can help in the maintenance of aircraft. Artificial intelligence in the airline industry is developed to inspect airplane parts without human engagement by utilizing high-level sensors like laser scanners and cameras—the AI system then sends real-time feedback and recommendations whether the parts need repair or not.
Implementing artificial intelligence in the airline industry can revolutionize the customer service problems that are common in the airline system. AI helps resolve customers quickly, suggests future trips and upcoming flights, and integrates IoT and home smart devices.
AI also helps with the emotional wellbeing of airline customer support staff since this is the sector known for great attrition levels.
The predictive feature of AI also comes in handy in identifying what the passenger wants before asking based on the past traveling insights, hence reducing too much customer service hold times-a common problem in the airline industry.