KLM partners with DigitalGenius to deliver perfect marriage of AI and a human touch to its social media channels

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has partnered with DigitalGenius to add automated answers to general questions on its social media channels, including Facebook Messenger, Twitter and WhatsApp. The airline is the first in its sector to offer a combination of human agents and artificial intelligence (AI) in a single conversation with the technology enabling its service agents more time to focus on questions in conversations with customers that require a “human approach”.


Summary:

  • KLM becomes the first airline to offer mix of artificial intelligence (AI) and human interaction to conversations across its social media channels.
  • The airline has built a dedicated team of 250 social media service agents which engages in around 30,000 conversations each week.
  • Using AI technology to answer basic questions, KLM can release its agents to more efficiently answer more complex customer requests.
  • KLM receives over 130,000 mentions via social media per week, a number has grown  since the introduction of WhatsApp as a service channel.

The Netherlands flag carrier has been among the leaders in using social media to communicate with its customers and this next step in its use of AI technology will deliver automated answers to general repetitive questions from customers without the intervention of a human service agent. It has built a dedicated team of 250 social media service agents which engages in around 30,000 conversations each week.

KLM actually receives over 130,000 mentions via social media per week and this number has grown significantly since the introduction of WhatsApp as a service channel. The airline says that on average, conversations consist of five or six questions and answers between KLM and its customers with analysis showing that questions that can be answered automatically with the use of AI usually forming the initial stages of the conversation.

KLM has been using AI provided by DigitalGenius for a year and-a-half and says it now supports over 50% of all inquiries. This facilitates KLM agents being able to provide more time to focus on questions in conversations with customers that require a human approach. The dual human-AI approach means that when agents need to answer questions, AI provides them with a possible answer. The AI system then learns from the service agent’s actions and gets smarter over time.

Until now, the agents have had to decide if the proposed answer suits the question, adjust the answer if necessary and send it to the appropriate social media channel. However, with the technologies experience KLM is now able to automate the answers to the most common questions on any subject without the interference of a human service agent.

“By using artificial intelligence, KLM makes conversations with our customers even more timely, correct, and personal. This is what characterises KLM,” says Pieter Groeneveld, senior vice president digital at Air France-KLM.

A recent example of how the AI technology can easily support human interaction is highlighted with the heavy snowfall that fell in the Netherlands earlier this month. This caused a significant increase of the number of questions on social media, many seeking the same information. With passengers obviously expecting a timely answer the use of AI to support service agents with technology would enable more questions to be answered in a shorter period of time. “This is exactly what the customer needs,” says Mr Groeneveld.

KLM’s focus for its digital strategy has been to build its presence on existing social media platforms, rather than developing bespoke and exclusive apps, which it believes would not be worth the heavy investment for their limited usage. KLM offers a 24/7 social media service across many platforms and in numerous languages, including Dutch, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, simplified Chinese, Japanese and Korean. You can also contact it in Italian during local office hours each day.