Chaim Heber, founder of Logina next-generation NLP-powered conversational platform, a pioneer in seamless travel and visa documentation.
Travel planning is trapped in the 20th century
Nothing is more popular than what is easy. Modern consumers want maximum results with minimum effort. Across industries, suppliers respond to demand by offering almost anything on Earth at the click of a button. In 2022, it’s futuristically easy to get your hands on groceries, stocks, taxis and entertainment. In stark contrast, the journey seems trapped in the 20th century.
Most travelers are often frustrated by the cumbersome process of reaching their desired destination. Long waits, inaccessible customer support, complicated document and visa requirements, lack of real-time updates and rapidly changing health and Covid-19 regulations can put off even the most experienced traveller.
Historically, both airlines and governments have been known for incompetent technical capabilities and outdated user experiences. Sites ending in .gov usually have the same aesthetic appeal and functionality as an old computer. Airlines typically put callers on hold for longer than the flights they want to book.
As travel explodes in a pandemic-transformed world and travelers seek easier travel, airlines, governments and even third-party travel services must dramatically rethink their approach to customer satisfaction. Organizations that succeed in tomorrow’s travel landscape will be those that put their customers first today.
That’s where chatbots come in
Chatbot technology uses natural language processing (NLP), which relies on AI-trained models to accurately understand and respond to users.
Until now, chatbots have been limited in their usefulness; they could provide basic information in response to specific prompts before transferring customers to live representatives. However, with the introduction of NLP, chatbots are becoming more nuanced and advanced.
What was once a rigid and cumbersome technology is beginning to replace mobile apps and websites and is fast becoming an indispensable element of the modern customer experience.
Chatbots can simplify and improve the systems involved in travel. They can enable customers to communicate directly with companies and government departments, reducing wait times and providing a fast, intuitive and seamless customer experience. They can instantly perform tasks, collect data and solve problems – all without requiring human intervention. According to a Userlike study, 68% of users enjoy the convenience that comes with using chatbots and how quickly they get a response.
On the supplier side, chatbots can effectively reduce costs by reducing the need for more employees. According to a study by Juniper Research, chatbot-based interactions are estimated to double retail sales each year from $7.3 billion in 2019 to $112 billion by 2023.
After recognizing the incredible efficiency, flexibility and potential of chatbots, many large enterprises have found ways to integrate the technology into their own customer experience systems.
Mastercard reduced the need for human resources by implementing chatbot technology. Uber and Lyft have incorporated chatbots to make ordering taxis easier. KLM has trained chatbots to answer thousands of questions and integrated the service into its customer relationship management tool to improve customer satisfaction. Entri.io cuts the e-Visa application process from hours (or days, or weeks) to minutes by providing a chatbot-powered travel documentation platform. Customers simply answer a few questions via WhatsApp chat and complete their visa applications within seconds.
According to a Meta study, seven out of 10 consumers report feeling closer to the business they can message, and 65% of consumers prefer to connect with businesses via chat. Additionally, Zendesk research found that 75% of customers are willing to spend more to buy from companies that provide them with a good customer experience.
There are a few concrete steps players in the travel industry can take internally to prepare for the transition to a chatbot strategy. Here is a list of some of these strategies.
1. Identify the specific areas where chatbots can be most effective in improving the customer experience, such as providing real-time updates, answering frequently asked questions, and handling simple tasks like booking flights or checking in.
2. Train employees to work alongside chatbots and support the transition to a chatbot-driven user experience. This may include educating employees about the capabilities and limitations of chatbots, as well as providing the necessary tools and resources to support customers using human-operated chatbots.
3. Implement new processes and policies to support the use of chatbots, such as defining protocols for when to escalate customer inquiries to a human representative and how to monitor and improve the effectiveness of chatbots over time.
4. Create a dedicated team or department to oversee the development, implementation and management of the chatbot strategy. This team may be responsible for setting the overall direction and goals for the chatbot strategy, as well as coordinating with other departments and teams to ensure chatbots are seamlessly integrated into the existing customer experience.
Overall, the key to success in implementing a chatbot strategy is to have a clear plan and involve all stakeholders in the process, from employees and customers to technology partners and suppliers. By taking these steps, players in the travel industry can position themselves to effectively use chatbot technology and improve the customer experience in the years to come.
As customers seek a smoother experience, the phenomenon of personalized virtual assistance is expected to disrupt nearly every industry — travel in particular.
Chatbots can reduce the time, hassle and frustration that millions of customers experience every day and simplify an overly complex, overwhelmed system. Every time you use one of the thousands of chatbot-powered services, you’re looking directly into the future of the travel industry.
Traveling doesn’t have to be complicated or headache-inducing. With the introduction of chatbots, travel can become seamless.
Almost like a vacation itself.
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