Adaptive Automation: Seamlessly Blending Agents and Bots to Deliver Exemplary CX
Aer Lingus, the flag carrier airline of Ireland, is a brand truly invested in delivering a friction free and scalable customer experience. A pioneering airline dedicated to digital innovation, Aer Lingus have transformed their customer service offering by investing in adaptive automation, spearheaded by a tier-1 flight status service chatbot.
For airlines, passenger relationships are the most valuable ticket to long-term success. Aer Lingus recognise that 1:1 interactions with their digitally-savvy fliers creates a great CX - the foundation for satisfaction, loyalty and ultimately, customer retention. With digital channels transforming how travellers engage with Aer Lingus, the airline understood that to reach the heady heights of success, scalable and enterprise-grade care was needed.
Partnering with Conversocial in September 2013, Aer Lingus set the goal to go the extra mile with their customer service operation by efficiently managing and responding to their ever-increasing digital volumes. Delivering a first-class service with the help of a Conversational CX Platform would ensure that Aer Lingus could provide a seamless customer experience to their digital passengers.
With a long-term vision aligned with quality, choice and convenience, Aer Lingus have continuously innovated and adopted new features and functions, such as private Messaging channels and more recently, automation, to propel their customer service strategy into the digital world.
Aer Lingus is the national airline of Ireland, founded in 1936. It operates 67 aircraft on over 100 routes to destinations in the UK and Europe and flies 17 direct routes to North America. The airline carries more than 12 million guests per annum. Aer Lingus is Ireland’s only 4-Star airline, awarded by Skytrax, the international air transport rating organisation. Its mission is to become the leading value carrier operating across the North Atlantic enabled by a profitable and sustainable short-haul network, and supported by a guest-focused brand and a digitally-enabled value proposition. Its home base is Dublin Airport. Aer Lingus is a member of International Airlines Group (IAG), one of the world's largest airline groups.
“Digital service channels are central to our strategy at Aer Lingus, so we were excited to partner with Conversocial on the development of our tier-1 service bot. The bot provides automated updates to guests on the status of their flight. It’s particularly valuable during periods of travel disruption and has helped us scale our digital care operation over social messaging channels. Through combining human agents with self-service through adaptive automation, Aer Lingus’ average response time has been significantly reduced.”
Head of Social
|For Aer Lingus, private messaging channels, and in particular Facebook Messenger, offer a unique opportunity to engage with digital customers. Messaging is:|
Singular, continuous conversation.
Conversation moves with the customer.
Always conversing with a customer.
Built For Automation
Continual improvement through ML/NLP.
Alongside messaging, innovative brands like Aer Lingus, are now figuring out how to use bots to add real value to the overall customer experience and help scale their digital care operation. Previously in the CX domain, it was much harder to automate full conversations there are just too many variables for what a customer could ask. But messaging channels are different. Humans and automation can sit side-by-side in a way that has not been possible before.
Done right, the messaging advantage for bot-automated interactions has clear and positive business impacts. Helping brands:
Deliver better customer experiences: Automation of common enquiries results in quicker response times and faster time to resolution for customers, decreasing effort and increasing customer loyalty.
Scale digital volumes: Service bots help brands manage high volume, low effort queries. Used as a frontline triage, bots should resolve repetitive, simple issues while highly skilled agents are dedicated to high-value interactions—creating big savings in customer service costs.
Lower their cost-to-serve: Bot-ready platforms that combine both adaptive automation and agent-assisted service results in fewer enquiries needing a human response. Meaning highly skilled agents are free to handle more complex customer service enquiries
Enable increased revenue: With the addition of payments, full commerce is now possible within messaging channels. When combined with the ability to send consumers targeted notifications and content with much higher open rates than email (as long as they opt-in). This is a huge untapped revenue source.
The partnership between messaging and automation is, however, often hard to get right.
Success requires an approach that combines the unique nature of messaging with human agents and adaptive automation to create scalable Conversational Customer Experiences. This combines the best aspects of messaging automation and human interaction to make connecting with a business as easy as messaging a friend.
Working seamlessly together, bots and human agents can turn CX into a competitive differentiator. This balance is exactly what Aer Lingus have achieved with their tier-1 service bot on Messenger.
Efficiently managing ever-increasing volumes on messaging channels has been a long-standing goal for Aer Lingus. The catalyst for this, however, came in March 2018 when Storm Emma brought Aer Lingus their highest incoming volumes since the launch of their digital care operation.
With exacerbated levels of disruption, flight uncertainty and repetitive inquiries about flight status, Aer Lingus’ agents struggled to identify conversations which needed to be escalated for swifter issue resolution. Other challenges faced by the team included:
Scaling to meet volume surges
As an airline committed to improving the customer experience, Aer Lingus faced the question: How could they create a scaled digital service operation to provide the most friction free and prioritized experience to customers seeking resolution on digital channels?
With a large percentage of digital volumes coming through Messenger, Aer Lingus decided to implement adaptive automation, with a tier-1 service bot, into their digital care architecture. In partnership with Assist, Conversocial’s automation platform offering, Aer Lingus deployed their flight status bot in December 2018, just in time for their busy holiday season.
1. Adaptive Automation
Aer Lingus’ tier-1 service bot is designed to handle simple flight status requests over Messenger, sourcing this information in a single, smart interaction. Delivering flight status information via the same API as aerlingus.com and mobile app means Aer Lingus’ digital architecture is smartly aligned for a more consistent experience. Dynamic conversational experiences driven by Random Access Navigation (RAN), proprietary technology to Conversocial, gives customers the ability to navigate through intent and interaction history without a predefined path.
2. Blending Humans and Automation
Working seamlessly together, the Messenger bot and human agents are empowered to turn Aer Lingus’ customer service into a competitive differentiator. Aer Lingus can provide a scalable CX, to all their customers on Messenger, striking the right balance between adaptive automation and human support. For complex issues or instances where the bot is unable to collect all of the correct data, it can smoothly handover any conversation to human agents for resolution. Adding value to Aer Lingus’ digital strategy, the bot frees up agents to efficiently manage priority interactions or those which need an empathetic human touch.
In this week's Conversation Round-up, Ido takes a look at the airline closing its call centers and Google's attempt to perfecting the conversational chatbot.Read more
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