Why rail should be focusing on building chat and voice bots?

SNCF Trains at Rail Station
Jul 8, 2019
Maud Ricateau
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The age of bots is now. People shop and buy in a world of immediacy. Messaging is how they communicate. That is the super power of bots: efficiency. There is no complicated menu or an infinite list of FAQ, by chatting in a familiar conversational interface, bots find what they need to understand and solve the problem you have. Nothing more, nothing less. Let's consider how many opportunities bot represents for the Rail World.

Chatbots can answer up to 80% of routine questions.

In terms of customer support, chatbots can answer up to 80% (Invesp) of routine questions. Considering the size of the population traveling by train on a daily basis, this represents a considerable amount of time that can be saved for the customer service representatives to focus on more complex questions. The return on investment for a bot that does Customer Support is not to be proven anymore.

Moreover, given the time constraint and the stress that the travelers can face, chatbots are really boosting the general satisfaction by providing immediate answers, 24/7, in multiple languages and on their favorite communication channels. In addition, the deployment of this type of virtual assistant can be done in a record time and on many channels. For example RATP, the public transportation in Paris, has implemented a voice bot with Amazon Alexa.

RATP Bot on Amazon Alexa

The rail industry is starting to think about increasing revenue by putting forwards ancillary services. Providing information at the right time such as special offers, new items from the menu, and even enabling them to order directly through the conversation constitute a real opportunity for new income.

This leads us to look at what OUI SNCF is doing on their website with OUIbot, their conversational shopping bot. The chat interface is more intuitive than any traditional website UX, providing a whole new user experience. This might seems too futuristic, but try it out (in French) to find out for yourself.

OUI SNCF Bot

On a client acquisition perspective, chatbots are also opening the door to Millennial (20-30 years old) and the Generation Z (15-20 years old). Indeed, this Smart Assistant fits perfectly with their expectations and the ways in which they are used to interacting with the world around them.

Chatbots bring the following:

  • Instant gratification
  • A chance to engage with emerging technology
  • Convenience and connection
  • Conversational engagement

Some major national and private railways such as SNCF, Thalys, Indian Railway, UK National Rail or Amtrak have already developed a bot. Are YOU ready to get started?

We have reduced the number of requests our customer support team receives on Zendesk by 50%.
Mobile App Director, SNCF
Christine Daugeron
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