Airlines experiment with customer service from SMS to very human AI


While airlines look for new ways to extend their customer service through bots and social media messaging platforms, Hawaiian Airlines has opted for two-way SMS to make the service accessible to more of its passengers.

Hawaiian worked with cloud-based mobile and online business messaging solutions provider, LivePerson to set up the service.

The advantage to SMS text messaging is that it is already included with every mobile phone and doesn’t require that travellers set up a new app or add a new social media profile.

They also benefit from SMS message records, which can keep a thread of the full history of conversations with customer service agents, visible to both parties.

Tracy Behler, senior director, online experience at Hawaiian Airlines says the service has proven popular.

“There’s no learning curve..as guests saw the option, they embraced messaging.

“The number of conversations occurring through messaging exceeded our original projections since we implemented it in May, and our customer satisfaction with messaging has been higher than with voice, while our agents are simultaneously more efficient.”

Air New Zealand meanwhile has gone high-tech with the development of a digital human, Sophie, to interact with customers.

Sophie was developed through a collaboration with New Zealand based technology company Soul Machines, and is programmed to reflect emotional intelligence as well as product knowledge.

Unfortunately, Sophie is only a temp.

She’s part of the airline’s new ‘Better Way to Fly’ campaign aimed at the North American market. The airline wants to draw attention to its innovative products and services.

These include the convertible Economy Skycouch which offers lie-flat sleep on Economy seating, the tracking wearable Airband for unaccompanied minors traveling with the airline which updates parents on their progress, and Biometric Bag Drop at Auckland Airport.

It seems that even an automaton’s job security is uncertain. However, the airline’s new ‘Better Way to Fly’ CGI mascot, Pete the Kiwi, might be invited for a few more gigs as a cure destination marketing icon targeted at North American audiences.



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