Chatting with technology – AirAsia’s quick success with Ada highlights the value of an automation-first customer experience strategy

Chatbots may simply be computer programmes, but many have more life and personality than humans, acting like virtual companions, that communicate with us through text messages, using artificial intelligence. In the travel sector they are increasingly being utilised to cater to new-age travellers to whom digital channels are the platform of choice.

From flight and hotel booking to travel assistance, if you ask a general question or request information chances are you could be in conversation with a bot. And what is most interesting is that you would probably not even know. Only when the questioning or requests get a little challenging then human interference may be introduced.

There are already numerous examples in the travel space. Chatbots provide a user-friendly, consistent and intuitive solution to the hassle of tiresome planning and complicated booking process. But, they are not easy to build, especially not for those that will deliver benefits both for the business and user.

After struggling to build an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot in-house, AirAsia turned to the Ada platform to introduce 24/7 customer service available across its website and app with fast and long-lasting results. It highlights a successful deployment of an automation-first customer experience strategy, a disruptive force and fundamentally new approach to the customer service sector.

Ada, among the leaders for automated customer experiences is certainly disrupting the customer service sector with its automation first strategy to drive cost savings and improved CSAT. Ada effectively replicates manual behaviour with machine learning freeing up expensive agents to pursue more meaningful, urgent tasks on behalf of customers. This transformative approach to customer service can quickly see customer service departments develop into profit centres for businesses.

The AirAsia story is “a great example of the power of Ada’s automation first strategy,” explains Mike Murchison, the company’s co-founder and CEO. “They fly 100 million passengers per year and used to struggle with customer support wait times of more than one hour. Within 30 days of launching Ada, the wait time for customers is now less than one minute. AirAsia is also now generating millions in annual revenues because they’ve automated meal plan purchases, ticket changes and more.”

The AirAsia Virtual Allstar chatbot was developed and born in just one month, communicating in eight languages (English, Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Indonesia, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional) and Korean) from the outset. It is an important part of the Asian LCC’s competitive strategy to create more efficient and satisfying customer experiences with elevated personalisation.

AirAsia’s customers can use their virtual assistant to access real-time flight updates, update account information, and change a booking – all without the need for a live agent. The success of the partnership has already seen an expansion to meet the support needs of a growing customer base.

It is not just in the travel sector though that Ada is delivering these solutions. New additions to its customer base include Digicel, Zoom, Airfox, Shapermint, Marley Spoon, and The Boston Globe. Rather than simply using chatbots as a deflection tool its self-built and branded platforms are working to improve the customer experience, visible in improved customer satisfaction scores.

Ada claims that its customers can now fully automate (on average) seven out of every ten conversations, upon previous levels as machine learning delivers better results. Last year new releases such as Ada Glass, which improves escalation from chatbot to live chat, has added to chatbot’s personality. Similarly, predictive suggestions leverages artificial intelligence and natural language understanding to proactively provide chatters relevant answers before users even complete typing.

The success at AirAsia and further market validation is indicative of the integral value businesses are seeing from adopting an automation-first strategy to increase efficiency and improve human resource dependent customer support strategies. Chatbots are here and are here to stay, and they are getting smarter by the day.

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