How a chatbot is helping Blue Air transform its business

As the airline industry starts to recover from the pandemic, one thing seems clear: low-cost airlines, and especially ULCCs, are faring better than anyone else. Their focus on cost reduction and agility is paying off, and full-service carriers are scrambling to imitate them.

Growing fast

In Europe, BlueAir is doubling down on its low-cost strategy, completing its transformation into an ULCC and expanding its network. The airline’s Chief Commercial Officer, Krassimir Tanev had this to say about the airline’s growth:

“As we are recovering from the effects that the pandemic had on the travel industry, Blue Air has embarked on an ambitious multi-year commercial strategy focused on becoming the Ultra-low-cost airline of choice for our customers.

With a new brand code and slogan –The Better Way to Fly, and a complete re-design of our network to make it even more competitive and attractive, we are now focusing on primary and central airports and introducing more than 20 new routes under the Summer 2022 Schedule. Our transformation journey aims to deliver a best-in-class ULCC experience, for the benefit of Blue Air passengers who can now rely on better travel options at affordable fares.”

Challenges

With pressure firmly on costs and passenger numbers approaching pre-covid levels, many airlines are struggling to serve more passengers with less money, especially when it comes to customer service.

The challenge is that traditional customer service is very resource intensive and inefficient. Resource intensive because agents can only help one customer at a time, and airlines need to find a balance between the number of agents they can afford to have and the wait time customers will face.

Inefficient because, according to Caravelo data, customer service agents spend 80% of their time answering the same questions over and over again, meaning that their skills are only being truly utilized about 20% of the time. For most airlines, traditional customer service has become a cost center, unscalable, and frustrating to both travelers and airlines.

For most airlines, traditional customer service has become a cost center, unscalable, and frustrating to both travelers and airlines.

In a world where other industries have accustomed people to fast and efficient customer service and the pressure on airline yields is getting higher than ever, the traditional customer service system is proving to be not only ineffective and unsustainable but also a danger to a company’s bottom line that pushes customers away from it.

Digital Innovation

BlueAir solved this challenge by thinking differently and focusing on digital innovation. The airline partnered with travel tech company Caravelo to create a scalable and automated way to handle customer service, support its growth and create a better customer experience.

The result was a chatbot called Nadia designed specifically for airline customer service purposes that was launched in late September 2021. Today Nadia is two months old, speaks 3 languages, handles almost 1,000 messages per day and has helped more than 12,000 BlueAir customers.

Today Nadia is two months old, speaks 3 languages, handles almost 1,000 messages per day and has helped more than 12,000 BlueAir customers

The chatbot helps BlueAir and its customers by answering most questions instantly, significantly reducing the workload of the airlines’ human customer service agent and allowing them to focus only on more complex cases.

Krassimir Tanev, Chief Commercial Officer, Blue Air, had this to say about the chatbot:

“We are delighted that, briefly after we deployed our new native mobile app, we are now able to provide a 24/7 virtual assistant service to our customers who are now able to benefit from rapid information related to their trip, and which also allows us to stay closer to them and obtain valuable insights about their needs and wants. We are committed to drive continuous improvement at each and every touch point of the customer journey and become the best-in-class digital retailer experience.”

Liviu Barbu, Customer Support Manager, Blue Air, mentioned about the chatbot:

“We understand and we value the more demanding need of our customer for quality assistance, delivered in real time, and we consider that Nadia approach will raise to the expectations. Our clients will get answers to their travel related questions.”

The road ahead

In the coming months, new features will be added to the chatbot to make it even more efficient, and further improve the experience for BlueAir’s customers.
Iñaki Uriz, Caravelo’s CEO noted that:

The great thing about working with an airline like BlueAir is that they are smart and agile. They can innovate quickly, and this makes working with them a pleasure. If we combine this agility with the adaptability of chatbots and their ability to “learn” skills (like languages) instantly, the possibilities for improvement and innovation become endless.”

As the airline continues to develop and expand its network, the chatbot will follow, and so will Caravelo. Krassimir Tanev, Chief Commercial Officer, Blue Air had this to say about working with Caravelo:

“Blue Air has embarked on an ambitious digital transformation journey which is just starting, and we are placing the customer in the center of everything we do. Our partnership with Caravelo is the best expression of our commitment to innovation, while still preserving the qualities that drive our efforts: hospitality and reliability. The solutions provided by Caravelo show a deep understanding of the industry needs and are an excellent fit for both our business model and our customers’ expectations profile