Gone are the days when smartphone applications were in fashion. Times change fast and a new era of messaging applications is on the rise –the age of the chat bot is here! Don’t know what a chat bot is? Read on to learn about this great opportunity for railways.
Travellers are spending a lot of time planning a trip. They are totally informed, have more than ever the power to compare and choose their preferred travel option. What role will chat bots play in the decision-making process and what can we learn from other industries?
What is a chat bot and how does it work?
According to The Guardian', chat bots are computer programs that mimic conversations with people using artificial intelligence (AI). Chat bots are used in social media applications like Skype or Facebook messenger and ideally for customer service purposes. IBM recently explained how easy it is to build a chat bot for any chat or device, a simple way to add natural conversations to any rail or travel app.
Let's look up an easy example: when planning a trip, travellers can use their preferred available chatting platform like Messenger, asking for a train ticket with the desired dates and the bot will reply with a trip proposal, a smooth and simple way to communicate with the customer.
How is the travel Industry making use of chat bots?
2016 is the year when chat bots are taking off for many brands in the travel industry: some have already deployed bots on messaging and collaborated with different channels, creating an omnichannel experience for the user.
KLM – right where their customers are
The first airline launching a chat bot was KLM. The chat bot’s API allows KLM to communicate with their customers with several chat apps like Facebook Messenger, through leading CRM platforms, such as Salesforce or SAP. The main benefit? A seamless customer experience.
Additionally, KLM has experienced:
- An increase in its brand engagement
- An increase in operational efficiency
- A decrease in customer response time
Collaborating to win: Skyscanner and Skype
Launched in August 2016, the travel metasearch bot for Skype was the first to offer interaction in a chat group.
Skype users involved in a group conversation can simply add the Skyscanner bot into the chat and interact with it as if it were another group member. The chat bot offers users the chance to search for flights, live prices and route options within Skype, before providing a link where users can go to complete the booking. A great and innovative way to search for travel!
Not only answering but listening: Amtrak
Railways are not losing track. More than ten years ago, “Julie” joined Amtrak to help their customers. With AI, Julie can help the customer to book a trip, plan a vacation and navigate through Amtrak’s website.
AI allows Amtrak to gather valuable information from the customer. The chat bot makes it possible to collect information on their preferences, behaviour and searches.
Voyages-sncf.com the first French brand to take the chat bot revolution on
Since 2012, iAdvize (a real-time customer engagement platform) has been helping Voyages-sncf.com, the leading online travel brand in France to manage their real-time online customer interaction. The main benefit for Voyages-sncf.com? The use of the chat bot positions them as a truly conversational experience brand.
The main benefit for travellers is that everything related to their trip can be handled through Messenger, from shopping to contacting customer service. And if customers want to renew their railcard via Messenger, an agent can send them a link and help them through the process’.
In addition to being a customer care channel, the chat bot also enables brands to create engagement and generate additional sales.
The chat bot revolution: an opportunity for railways
Chat bots present significant benefits for railways and travellers alike. Chat bots are there to inspire, search, book and provide after sales service - and they are here to stay.
We used to have websites, then the world switched to mobile applications in the middle of the 2000s and it’s very probable that chat bots will be influencing the way people interact with the internet in the next decade. The digital experience is evolving and so should businesses willing to stay ahead of the game.