Journey Planning with Bots

Artificial intelligence (AI) is set to transform the transportation services industry. Conversational AI solutions will be leading this transformation as they leverage both mobile and messaging, the two mainstays of our always-on, connected world.
Indian Rail Add Indian Railways bot to your  Add Bot to Skypeor Facebook Messenger

Audience

Millions of passengers who use Indian Railways. The Indian Railways (IR) operates trains on 66,000 kms of track to carry its 23 million passengers (per day) to 7000+ destinations across the country.

PopcornApps has been making efforts to accelerate AI-led digital transformation in different industries. As part of which, we looked at how AI solutions can help Indian Railways provide on-demand engagement plus a superior customer experience to its passengers.

The Opportunity

Passengers need information on schedules, fares, platform allocations, etc. besides online ticketing services to plan their journeys. IR provides access to both information and ticketing services via digital support channels (contact center, app, website) and offline support channels (help desk, platform staff, electronic departure screens).

Still, the travel planning experience is not as simple and convenient as it should be. We believe growing app fatigue, poor UX of the ticketing site on mobile, and rising popularity of messaging apps offer an opportunity to enable better efficiencies, experiences, and engagements for train travelers. Something chatbots can accomplish.

With bots, user adoption is a non-issue. Over a billion people already using messenger apps will be able to access them easily. Growing app fatigue too works in bot’s favour. Given the scenario, adding bots to the existing customer support mix will soon be essential.

The Solution

The solution must offer a simpler, more engaging UX than one currently delivered on site/app. And, we believe Chatbots are ideal. They can deliver engaging and personalized travel experiences to millions at an affordable cost. Mobile and Messaging are the most popular technologies today. And, chatbots lie at the confluence of these two platforms.

We proceeded to act on our belief. We leveraged our expertise in AI and Microsoft technologies to build a powerful Chatbot. Our intent was to demonstrate to Indian Railways Community how chatbots deliver a more immersive and engaging travel experience while positively impacting the entire IR system.

The Potential Impacts

The bot is currently active. Over 20k users have already interacted with the IR chatbot since its launch in late 2016 and the usage is showing month-on-month growth. The potential audience for the chatbot is a whopping 23 million passengers/day.

Most of these commuters already seek information and ticketing services via desktop or mobile channels as is seen from the 1 million+ visits the ticketing site receives daily and the 5 lakhs+ tickets booked on the portal each day.

Roadmap for the Future

We will seek a partnership with Indian Railways to enable more self-service use cases and to reduce the need for a handover to other ticketing/support channels to fulfil user intent (example, enabling bookings with Facebook payments).

We will also define and track KPIs for each defined user intent. By tracking KPIs, we will uncover errors and optimization opportunities that will help us keep our chatbot on track for success.

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