Customers are increasingly moving to messaging applications to interact with brands and AirAsia wants tools that will enable the aircraft to do better.
Consumers now want to talk to companies and find solutions the way they talk to their friends and family, and that drives a big shift toward messaging channels, says Adam Gene, chief customer officer at Asian Airlines.
GENEVA added in an interview with DTCDaily that the carrier added support to WeChat in Tencent in China earlier this year and was seeing a great dependence on the platform. In fact, the messaging tool has grown to become the largest communications channel of AirAsia in the Chinese market.
He said the airline's involvement with customers through such channels played a key role in its business strategy because it enabled consumer inquiries to be addressed quickly and urged technology providers and other solutions to integrate messaging tools into their products.
According to Geneave, AirAsia currently provides WeChat support via an additional component developed by Salesforce.com, a suite of products launched over the past year as part of its customer service infrastructure reform. These include Salesforce Sales Cloud, and Marketing Cloud with Social Studio, Service Cloud and Community Cloud.
The deployment of AirAsia service providers across eight markets allowed access to a unified display of customer cases from all channels of communication, including online communications, e-mail, live chat, telephone and airport.
With the transition to messaging very fast, he said, it was difficult for the plane and its technology partners to keep up with that. For example, there is still a lack of support for WhatsApp on Facebook.
"We have been very frank in wanting such support, including Line and KakaoTalk," he said, noting that WhatsApp handled 65 billion messages a day worldwide and there were one billion active users from WeChat. "The way people interact is changing." AirAsia plans to close all of its call centers this year in part in response to this trend.
It is estimated that the airline will transport 100 million passengers this year and will facilitate 20 million of its services every year on the Salesforce platform, which currently supports more than 22,000 employees from AirAsia in nine languages.
Data operated across these systems allows the airline to provide personal experiences and facilitate better decisions.
Geneave explained that the various data sets were grouped on a single platform and managed at the AirAsia command center. This is managed by service managers who will track salesforce dashboards to identify patterns that can affect their business and monitor tweets as well as other social media messages that appear on Social Studio.
He said this provides valuable education to their customers and, through these ideas, enabled his team to work on projects and improve operations and systems to further enhance customer engagement with Asia Airlines.
He noted that the ability to study data and identify emerging trends also means that his team may be aware of the interruption of service even before alerting the IT team to it, adding that his team also tracks other relevant developments such as airports and other airlines that may not compete directly with AirAsia .
In January, the airline also introduced artificial intelligence-supported chatbot (AI), called AVA, which can handle eight languages, including Bahasa Indonesia, Vietnamese and Simplified Chinese.
Geneave said that chatbot was doing well and taking up a large part of the queries contained in live chat. AVA has also been deployed on the airline's Facebook Messenger platform.
In addition to working on a strong knowledge base, he said that chatbot continued to learn from conversations he had with customers. His team also trained them on a daily basis.
"The deployment of AVA is critical to enabling the airline to be more flexible in the way its customers run," he said, noting that chatbot can take large volumes and allow queries to be processed more quickly.
Geneave also noted the emergence of artificial intelligence and machine learning as a critical development as it will enable AirAsia customers to interact more quickly and identify trends that would take hours to analyze.
In addition to customer services, he said, airlines will be given the power to save fuel – for example, by improving the way crew lists are set and managing their resources.