Aviation Festival 2018 in London is over, and it’s time to gather some thoughts on what I learned and witnessed. First of all: a great event that was well-organized and showcased some impressive initiatives and results. Congrats to the organizers at @airlinesblog!

Use an Automated Messaging Platform as your “Control Tower” for Digital Customer Care in Aviation

Sparkcentral was an exhibitor, and the team has put up a very thoughtful and impactful presence with our booth. I loved how the booth background visualized how we’re dealing with a new onslaught of customer messages on asynchronous messaging channels such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or in-app and in-web chat – with platforms like Sparkcentral’s Automated Messaging Platform acting as the “control tower”, helping the field operations and customer service staff alike manage the conversations with their constituents. Check out this video:

 

Innovation witnessed first hand

A couple observations from conversations I’ve had and things I’ve seen:

  • KLM spoke about their digital customer engagement journey, and I have to say – they continue to impress me. A brand worth looking up to when it comes to making use of innovation to wow customers. The presenter showed how KLM is taking the next step in using artificial intelligence on social media to provide hybrid “Human+AI” conversations that support their customers.
  • A brand new airline will launch next year that will offer transatlantic flights with only lie-flat seats! I was intrigued by the idea, and am thinking to myself: what a perfect brand to exceed their passenger expectations by engaging deeply via personal communication channels such as WhatsApp or Messenger!
  • Softbank Robotics is successful selling robots with embedded touchscreens interfaces on their “chest” to entertain and inform passengers in airports, hotel lobbies, or elsewhere. While I’m personally not the biggest fan of what could be perceived as a “gimmick”, I do see the value in areas such as airports, where waiting is part of your experience, and where traveling with kids might not always be the easiest…
  • An innovation director at an airport management firm running Denver amongst other airports is looking to really improve how the airport itself communicates with guests. Too often it is the airlines that “own” the customer – the airport wants their fair share, and we have brainstormed together how to achieve that, e.g. by running ads on navigation apps for people driving to the airport… (don’t share with anyone!!)

 

Engaging with my audience through WhatsApp

In my presentation “Why Messaging is Better than Live Chat for Field and Customer Communication” in the Aviation Marketing track, I tried to open our customers’ eyes on why traditional live chat is almost as bad as calling a call center and waiting for the agent to pick up… live chat is a synchronous communication channel requiring the agent and customer to be present at the same time – it is a session-based channel, just like the phone call. In today’s age, that feels outdated. If I can send a text message on the channel of my choice to my friends and hear back when they’re ready, why can’t I do the same with airlines?

At the end of the talk, I invited everyone in the packed-to-the-rim room to experience the convenience of using WhatsApp themselves. About 10 audience members or so took me up on the offer and messaged Sparkcentral on our corporate number on WhatsApp; we were then able to show how the “customer service rep” side looks like in our tool.

Sparkcentral is in this world to spark a movement to connect airlines, airports, and other businesses with customers through messaging. Doing this can save money AND improve the CX. If that sounds interesting, please have a look at our Airline Executive’s Playbook for Successful Digital Care!

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