Travel planning with bots

Your Daily Commute Is About To Get Better

Artificial intelligence (AI) will soon transform the transportation services industry. Conversational AI solutions are going to be at the forefront of this transformation as they embrace the most popular technologies of our times: Mobile and Messaging.

Customer Profile

Millions of passengers who use UK Rail services.

UK National Rail is a public transportation services giant operating over 19700 passenger trains on 21000 miles of track to ferry over 2.5 million passengers each day to 2500+ destinations in the UK.

PopcornApps has been making efforts to accelerate AI-led digital transformation in different industries. As part of those efforts, we looked at how AI solutions can help UK rail provide on-demand engagement that dramatically improves the user experience for passengers.

The Opportunity

Several UK Rail passengers look for information on schedules, fares, train status updates, delays, and platform allocations. The network enables access to such information via digital support channels (contact center, app, website) and offline support channels (help desk, platform staff, electronic departure screens).

However, travelers experience frustration in getting info offline. For example, they have to rely on electronic departure screens for information on platform allocations. Clearly, customer experience on these channels needs improvement on both ease-of-use and engagement fronts. And, chatbots can accomplish that.

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 will also work in the favor of bots. Given the scenario, adding bots to your customer support mix will soon be essential.

The Solution

Clearly, the travel planning and commute experience for Network Rails passengers can be simpler and more convenient. We think advances in AI and the rising popularity of mobile and messaging apps present an opportunity to add a more engaging and efficient digital support channel to the UK Rail customer service mix.

We went ahead and leveraged our expertise in AI and Microsoft technologies to build a powerful AI-driven chatbot solution. Our intent was to demonstrate to the UK Rail community how chatbots deliver a more immersive and engaging travel experience while positively impacting the entire Network Rail system and stakeholders.

The Potential Impacts

The UK Rail bot is currently in beta testing with a limited number of users and is set to go live soon. Once it is live, the potential impacts for both the UK Rail network and its passengers are huge.

Better Productivity: Chatbot deployment will increase contact center staff productivity and decrease support costs as simpler requests will be met through self-service allowing agents to focus on servicing complex requests.

More Engagement: More importantly, Chatbots will dramatically improve the customer experience. Passengers can hereafter plan their journey from the messenger app by exchanging a few simple text messages with the bot.

Greater Convenience: Also, passengers that use bots won't have to rely on departure screens for allocation information. The bot will send an alert with the platform allocation and departure time minutes before their scheduled journey.

Roadmap for the Future

We will seek a partnership with UK Rail to enable more self-service use cases and to reduce the need for a handover to other support channels for fulfilling user intent.

Furthermore, we will define and track KPIs for each user intent and look for errors and optimization opportunities to keep the chatbot on track for success.

We believe that going further, the UK Rail chatbot will inspire others in the travel services sector to adopt conversational AI for a superior customer experience.

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