RPA solution helps airlines and hospitality industry manage customer demand amid COVID-19
Automation Anywhere, a global leader in Robotic Process Automation (RPA), today announced a new AI-powered bot to help airlines and hotels speed the processing of an unprecedented number of customer cancellations due to the coronavirus (COVID-19.)
Travel has quickly come to a standstill, as international borders closed, flights were grounded, and social distancing measures took effect. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the financial health of the aviation industry, with an estimated 1.1 million flights cancelled through June 30, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The drop in business and leisure travel have likewise impacted the hospitality industry, leaving hotel rooms empty and the need to deal with a flood of cancellations along with the specter of a big financial dilemma.
The Airline Call Center Bot was developed to ease a barrage of cancelled flights for some of the world’s largest airlines including American, United, Delta, Lufthansa, Air France, Air China and others, resulting in passengers seeking refunds or credit, and dramatically prolonged hold times for customer service. Existing staff have struggled to handle a surge in demand to repatriate passengers, and as a result, airlines are facing reputational risk due to negative customer experiences as well as potential fines for non-compliance. To reduce cash outflow, many airlines have added e-voucher refunds for future flights, adding to the processing complexity.
“Automation can streamline the processing of these refunds, increasing cashflow for airlines, as well as reduce backlogs and hold times, resulting in higher customer and agent satisfaction,” said Prince Kohli, CTO, Automation Anywhere. “Looking forward, RPA will reshape the future of travel by automating some of the biggest challenges faced by the industry, which is lower operating costs while providing improved efficiencies.”
Automation Anywhere’s new software bot is designed to solve these challenges. The RPA solution automatically extracts ticket information from customer emails on file, opens booking and refund applications and validates the passenger name record (PNR), customer itinerary, airline reward, coupon status and commission to process requests and issue an e-voucher – without adding employee headcount. The RPA solution has also been customized for the leisure industry, enabling hospitality agents with high call volumes to cancel or change reservations, reducing wait times and maintaining customer satisfaction.
RPA speeds processing of e-vouchers from 20 minutes to less than 3 minutes
A major airline has already streamlined and accelerated its cancellations workflow using RPA — reducing processing time from 20 minutes to less than three minutes. The Airline Call Center Bot is automatically processing an e-voucher option giving customers the opportunity to quickly receive credit for use on future flights or other services, and at the same time, improve its cash flow until the economy rebounds.
“Right now, companies are struggling to handle surging customer support demands, and RPA bots are a solution that can help companies in industries like travel and hospitality to significantly reduce average customer hold time, resulting in a vastly improved customer experience,” said Daniel Newman, Founding Partner and Principal Analyst at Futurum Research. “As we abate the COVID-19 crisis and demand scales back to more typical levels, these processes will remain critical for airlines, hotels and similar businesses seeking to streamline operations and digitally transform to deliver greater customer satisfaction.”