A Chatbot Strategy Starts with a Customer Journey Map

Two months after launching their flight booking chabot, airline X (true story, name not important) was disappointed with the results; it wasn’t getting much interest.

What went wrong? It doesn’t improve the user experience.

The strength of chatbot or voicebot is conversation and sometimes conversation is an inferior engagement method. Start your chatbot/voicebot strategy with a customer journey map to help identify use cases where they improve the customer experience.

The top right quadrant of a frequent flyer (a.k.a. status flyer) customer journey is the pre-travel zone. It’s an information presentation nd transaction zone. I chose status flyers because they are more likely to use an airline app, which comes into the story later.

A chatbot/voicebot doesn’t add value in the pre-travel zone over existing methods. Especially for booking flights.

To contrast, a well executed web page is optimized for quickly digesting a lot of information. In seconds we can zero in on flights of interest and move forward.

Bite-sized, back and forth conversation can’t compete with a web page here. It’s painful. 

[Recall that we are examining why a Facebook Message chatbot had disappointing adoption as a booking tool. As voice assistants gain capabilities and user trust they could begin to make sense earlier in the customer journey.]

Conversation AI starts to look more interesting when our flyer reaches the airport.

Status flyers live out of their airline app while on the go. Instead of deploying a new chatbot channel, why not leverage that devotion to keep them within your native brand experience through as much of the customer journey as possible?

Adding a microphone icon to a mobile app and connecting it to an NLU engine can turn your app into an AI-powered voicebot. That same natural language engine could also power conversation AI during other phases of the customer journey where it would be helpful.

Airlines and hotels have a long history of relying on third parties leading up to the point of sale. The new era of conversation AI introduces a window of opportunity for travel service providers to deepen their customer relationships through more of the entire customer journey.

When considering a chatbot or voicebot take some time to map the customer journey to

  • Understand where and if conversation truly improves the customer experience.
  • Consider how conversation AI can be integrated with your existing systems to make them more useful and engaging.
  • Look for opportunities outside the air travel window where you can add value to enhance the customer relationship.
  • Look for other opportunities where conversation AI can add value to the business. Conversational feedback instead of an NPS survey for example.

If you’ve already deployed a chatbot that is underperforming have another look at the possibilities throughout the entire customer journey. Shifting it to a place where it delivers real value to the user could breathe life into it.