What This Indian Airline’s Bot Tells Us About The Future Of Customer ServiceAdd bookmark
Indian airline, SpiceJet said on Thursday that its automated customer service and check-in facility is available on WhatsApp, in addition to its website and mobile app. In May, the government had made it mandatory for all passengers to check-in online 48 hours to 60 min before flight departure in order to ensure social distancing.
SpiceJet's automated customer service agent called Ms Pepper can be accessed by passengers at mobile number 6000000006 anytime. Send a message through WhatsApp to Ms Pepper on your way to the airport and she will help you with the mandatory web check-in process without the need to visit SpiceJet's website and deliver your boarding pass directly to your mobile phone, the company stated.
"As WhatsApp works well over slow and intermittent internet connections, customers can chat with Ms Pepper without worrying about being in a good network area," (or needing to speak to a live agent) the company noted.
Domestic flights resumed in India on May 25 after a gap of two months due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown. However, passengers have been asked to follow various rules such as mandatory online check-in in order to ensure social distancing and avoid coronavirus transmission since.
The adoption of WhatsApp check-ins in SpiceJet’s case is a classic example of the coronavirus pandemic forcing competitive customer service departments undergoing particularly difficult circumstances (depending upon their industry – in this case, airlines) to adopt newer digital tools to remain operationally efficient.
WhatsApp is a freeware, cross-platform messaging and Voice over IP service owned by Facebook that allows users to send text messages and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, and other media. More and more businesses are rolling out chatbots such as Ms Pepper into messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, (or Facebook Messenger, Viber, and many more) to automate and handle simple tasks, save employees’ times and resources, and streamline customer support processes for the consumer and business (all while following health and safety regulations).
In Facebook’s study “More than a message,” 53% of the respondents said they are more likely to buy from a company which provides customer service via chat on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger than one that does not – nearly a year ago. Those numbers have likely grown substantially during the digital era we’re living in. The chat and messaging markets have surged during the pandemic as AI and automation have saved the day for many customer service departments struggling to handle increasing call volume - or customers not wanting to wait on hold, repeat information across channels, and a myriad of other problems both customer service departments and customers have been experiencing in the past six months.
According to CCW Digital research, by 2025, 54% of companies believe at least 40% of customer issues will be handled entirely in self-service environments, confirming exponential advancement in AI-driven self-service channels such as Ms Pepper.
As AI and automation advance, digital channels and natural language processing (NLP) tools become more efficient at understanding and solving customer problems over time. Consumers become less skeptical of newer self-service channels, customer service gets better, and of course, customers then expect more, creating a never ending loop of advancement.
This is a time when the world is vulnerable, where every person and organization is adapting to life with a live virus in their midst, where no one is operating from a best-in-class pandemic playbook to survive modern financial Darwinism. Brands, including marketers and customer service departments must become the very people they’re trying to reach. This means that among innovation, compliance, time and technology, humanity must become the greatest application.
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