I’m sure you must have heard about the buzzword these days – Chatbot. What’s the whole humdrum about? Let’s try to decode what it is and what the future holds for us. A bot is a more generic term meaning an automated program or script intended to serve a purpose, while Chatbot is a very specific type which operates primarily through chatting which could be text or voice based. Chatbots have been around for quite some time now but the recent development that has brought these to the forefront is the use of artificial intelligence in them.
With the integration of Natural Language Processing, a bot can now process your natural language to find the keywords and respond accordingly so it is not a very cold binary exchange of words but has a more humane touch and a conversational experience which makes people more comfortable. A bot requires training by the developer to create a request response matrix and AI now allows this training to be bettered with time by use of machine learning. The program keeps tracking all input/ output data which can be analysed over a period of time to refine the conversation matrix based on the inferences drawn.
This added with the ability to provide same experience to your customer over a number of channels like web and mobile opens up a whole new world of task automation for companies. Now you do not require a dedicated team of customer service people who just keep chatting and answering customer queries. You do not need to bother about training your team members extensively to make sure each and every interaction they have leaves the customer touched, moved and inspired. You can have a much smaller team for that exclusive experience for customers having more complex queries or need more hand holding. The mundane queries can be very easily taken care of by your own chatbot application which will be available 24*7 at the convenience of the customer, not as per your operation hours.
So now the chatbots have a whole new meaning, in that they represent interactive services that provide a conversational experience.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg – customer service is only one use case for this brilliant tool. Let’s walk through some innovative uses that it can be put to in Travel domain.
I’m sure you have tried booking a hotel or flight through Expedia or another online aggregator – did you feel overwhelmed by the amount of information and not knowing how to find your way through it? Imagine you had the option to initiate a chat with someone and keep asking questions to get specific answers and limited information filtered to your needs - wouldn’t that save you time and effort? Then you can book and also ask it to send you the invoice, boarding pass and setup a reminder for you. The novelty is not in the tasks it does but in the ease and simplicity with which you can get a mundane task done. Why not uncomplicated then? Next time the chatbot can also pull up your past data and suggest intelligently. That is precisely what I like about my favourite travel agent. And you?
Further, a chatbot could help you find quick info like baggage allowance, rules, etc. to ensure better policy compliance from travellers. I would be really glad if it could tell me when meals will be served on my flight so I could grab a bite before getting in if there’s a long wait – I’ve mostly miscalculated this and gone hungry for hours. How about it telling me what plane it will be and what services are available on board? Wouldn’t it be great if I could choose what information I want to know rather than looking for it buried in pages and pages of FAQs, where you don’t find what you’re looking for?
For the travel company it gets so much easier to keep enhancing their customer experience while being omnipresent and omniscient – doesn’t it feel Godly, wow! So you can track every conversation happening, be available anytime anywhere in its true sense and fulfilling on what people need – that certainly feels very powerful to me.