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Q&A with KLM: How KLM successfully uses Google Assistant in customer services

Q&A with KLM: How KLM successfully uses Google Assistant in customer services

Over 20% of the communication in the future will happen through automated voice technology. What do you need to hear regarding this as a company? We gathered the best lessons learned from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines who successfully integrated the voice Google Assistant as a service.

Not only does KLM run one of the largest and Award-winning social media operations worldwide. As the oldest passenger airline still operating and, therefore, one of the most experienced customer interacting companies, they are also true pioneers at heart when it comes to improving customer services. Leading them to be the world’s largest social media support team in the world today.

Being proven in results, Google asked KLM at the end of 2018 to be their launch partner for the voice Google Assistant Netherlands. An opportunity, which led to both new possibilities for the company as well as important lessons learned going forward. Get on board KLM’s journey for the key learnings throughout this process – the ups and downs ->

As KLM’s Product Owner of Social Media Development, Juliëtta Wesel, shared at the Nodes event ‘The Rise of Voice in Digital Transformation’ held May 23rd in Amsterdam:

“With success, also come challenges”

First, a short introduction on why voice Google Assistant technology has become so important that companies such as KLM integrated this automated conversational customer service.

The start of KLM’s interactive consumer strategy

Wesel: “It was the 2010 volcanic eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland which, although relatively small for volcanic eruptions, caused enormous disruption to air travel across western and northern Europe over an initial period of six days in April 2010.

In these days, KLM passengers were also looking for other ways to travel since most flights across Europe were cancelled. It gave us a reason to investigate: what is it that customers want? And where are they located? How can we combine these needs into products through technology?

This is where KLM started integrating social media for new conversational interfaces. And as in all unexpected situations happening to businesses all the time, it made us realize all customer service processes should bring together:

  • The customer wants and needs
  • KLM’s offer in products and services
  • Tech capabilities to bring the two previous factors together

Throughout this enormous process, which started back in 2010, lots of lessons were learned and actions are continuously taken. These actions help in unexpected situations but mostly provide customers with the best service at any given time.

With the integration of social media, a lot of situations improved, where on the contrary new challenges were being faced. The enormous popularity of social media as a portal, providing services 24/7, brought higher customer expectations as well as extra tasks.

Social media requests were at the start all handled manually. Since the integration of AI and machine learning, the speed of our customer services improved with 50%. To maintain and further improve that achievement, new technologies are regularly integrated.

The KLM Travel Assistant, a voice service supported by Google Assistant technology, followed this process. The KLM Travel Assistant, which is their newest automated technology in customer service, is now a vital part of the KLM’s social media department. In fact, the KLM Travel Assistant was rewarded with the SpinAwards 2019.

Find the key learnings from KLM that lead to integrating voice as their new service and the process to and from there.

Voice Technology Lessons learned by the launch partner of Google Assistant the Netherlands KLM - Q&A with KLM: How KLM successfully uses Google Assistant in customer services

Key learnings KLM | What you need to know about integrating a voice Google Assistant service as a customer service tool:

Wesel: “To make clear what we mean with a voice Assistant; this means integrating automated voice response, created by a voice bot, through voice app technology. It does not include a call center, only the fully automated digital conversation process in technology”  

  • Keep it simple & short
    We made, for example, the ‘Packing Assistant’, which is a very long flow, where we see people drop out quickly. We have experienced that an automated voice service needs very precise questions and answers, to provide real service. This will make your flow to the point, functional, and increases its service function
  • Focus on the core product
    Voice really forces you to do this. Which makes it a great process on its own
  • Make it voice first
    It really is a different type of tech asking for a different approach, starting with how can I help you? Especially on the business side, this requires a different way of thinking. Questions arise like ‘How to make this flow?’ And ‘What content to use’? Invest in research, to find out: what is it that your customers will ask, and how can you answer that best 
  • Inspect and adapt
    See how customers use it and improve with that knowledge. Consumer behavior can be measured with the full flows – in transcripts (not recordings)
  • It’s not only about screenless
    You have to look for this hybrid model where channels come together. It’s optimizing best of all channels in customer services to grow businesses
  • It’s not just another channel
    It’s really a service on its own, at this point in time
  • Social is your R&D lab for customer-centric doing
    If something online fails, or when other unexpected situations arise, social media is the next step where people bring this to (y)our attention

Maarten Lens-FitzGerald: The keynote to Voice – What you need to know about the Voice Assistant as a service

Apart from KLM’s Travel Assistant, many companies of various sizes have started integrating automated voice technology services. Hence we felt like sharing our knowledge on this fast-growing interface, helping companies with this process. Curious to find a simple practice that might help you think in the right way? Download the full presentation wherein you will also find the workshop sheet as used throughout the event. Other questions about voice technology as a service? Get in touch with us to ask your questions.

Please find the full Nodes Agency Event, Amsterdam – Voice Keynote Intro and Workshop sheet used during the event here. Check this page frequently to stay up-to-date with new Voice technology releases. More information and updates will be published soon.

With special thanks to Juliëtta Wesel and Lucy Blogg from KLM for their knowledge sharing, and Hotel V (Fizeaustraat) in Amsterdam for hosting and the best service guaranteed throughout the event.

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