2020, what a trip!
What a year 2020 has been. It feels like we have all been stuck in a weird time zone where nothing happened but everything also happened all at once. Wasn’t it just March yesterday?
Although we are seeing a recent surge in cases in some parts of the world, there is light at the end of this long and seemingly unending tunnel; vaccines! Countries around the world are trying to get used to this new ‘normal’ way of living but many of us I’m sure are still hoping some things can go back to the way they used to be.
This is especially true for the tourism and aviation industry. Who would’ve thought that there would come a time when the world would close its doors to international travel and aeroplanes would be grounded with nowhere to fly off to.
2020 has kept AVA busy
With Covid-19 clipping wings all around the world, passengers have understandably been at a loss and a tsunami of requests and queries have been hitting airlines all over the world. As one of the world’s largest low-cost airlines carrying over 100 million passengers annually, AirAsia was certainly no exception.
Since the start of the pandemic, AirAsia’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbot AVA (AirAsia’s Virtual Allstar) has received over 45 million queries. That’s greater than the entire population of Malaysia! This is also more than five times the volume of what AVA received in the same period last year.
Imagine attending to 5681 requests every hour or 95 requests every minute on average. 2020 has certainly been a busy year for AVA, and that may be an understatement!
AirAsia has always been a digitally-led company and was ahead of the game by launching AVA in January 2019. The chatbot has the capability of managing 25,000 queries at any time in 15 languages. Still, the impact of COVID-19 remains a huge shock and has placed a massive pressure on the system.
Regardless, about 80% of these queries were successfully resolved by AVA, which means she has managed to handle 36 million queries independently (you go girl!). The remaining requests which require further attention, were then transferred to live chat agents for assistance.
In many ways, AVA is a saving grace for AirAsia, as she has helped millions of guests resolve their queries and issues expediently while lightening the load for her fellow Allstars during these unprecedented times.
We’re all in this together
Back in March, the number of queries skyrocketed to 11.2 million following the announcement of the airline’s fleet hibernation. By this time, the entire live agent team was in overdrive trying to manage the number of complicated queries passing through to them in full force, and a call was sent for reinforcements.
Through an internal shoutout calling for volunteers from our global Allstars network (AirAsia’s employees), 1,500 of them answered. Consisting of mostly cabin crew and pilots who found themselves suddenly grounded, our Allstars willingly stepped up to assist our guests, and lightened the load on our Customer Happiness team.
“At AirAsia, low fares doesn’t mean less service and we have remained guest obsessed throughout this crisis. We’re incredibly proud of our Allstars from other business functions who have volunteered their time to support our guests during these difficult times,” said Adam Geneave, AirAsia’s Chief Customer Happiness Officer.
AVA is always getting smarter
Continual improvement is one of our core values. With the huge volume of guest queries that AVA had to face in recent times, we acknowledge that there are still a lot of improvements to be made. Our dedicated team of in-house developers have been working day and night on improving AVA and we appreciate all the constructive comments and sound suggestions made by our guests on social media and our complaint channels.
AVA has been a great addition, but she is still learning and becoming smarter – over time, and by handling different types of queries, AVA is continuously developing skills to serve our guests more effectively and efficiently. Just like our Allstars, she has been embedded with our ‘guest-obsessed’ value.
However, where AVA might still fall short, hundreds of our live agents are available 24/7 to serve our guests.
In the meantime, we have developed a series of bite-sized educational videos to share just how easy it is to make a request or query using AVA, and we hope that these will be useful for your interaction with our beloved AVA. [Watch the videos here!]
The future of AVA
To keep up with the times, the omni-channel AVA has recently joined WhatsApp to make it easier for our guests to contact her. This also allows us to tap into the wide user base of the popular messaging application, complementing the existing channels of airasia.com, support.airasia.com, Facebook Messenger and Wechat. Soon, we hope to introduce AVA to users on other equally popular platforms like Twitter DM, Line and Viber too!
We are also looking at enhancements like the Single-Sign-On (SSO) capability for AVA, where our guests will only need to log on to their BIG Member account in their respective devices once, for AVA to immediately recognise their name, flight bookings and other details in the future.
This will add greater convenience for our guests as AVA will be able to instantly retrieve necessary information required for most of their requests once logged in, cutting down time and current processes where they might be asked for flight booking numbers or other information each time.
In the near future, if a guest has an urgent requirement such as a flight that has been retimed, cancelled, or delayed, AVA will also be able to recognise it quickly (through the integration with AirAsia’s flight status system) and immediately offer any service options available for the guests the same time that they reach out to AVA.
The AVA-zing factor
There is no denying that air travel as we know it, has now changed.
Airlines world over are still struggling, but as one of the biggest low-cost airlines in Asia, AirAsia is well-positioned to weather this crisis and recover faster than many others as we have a solid foundation: low-cost base, well-established flight network, extensive experience in providing great fares at great value and delivering an amazing flying experience for our guests – and now we have a virtual Allstar who can help us manage millions of guest queries instantly, with more potential waiting to be unlocked!
As AirAsia returns to the skies domestically and gears up for international border reopenings, we wish to thank all 600 million guests who have flown with us, including millions of first time flyers, for their continuous support as we navigate through these extreme and very difficult times.November 27, 2020Sepang0