How AI is improving the customer experience
Amit Taneja, chief business officer — international markets, Cleartrip, explores how analytics is defining travel in a digital-first world
In the coming years, AI will have revolutionised retail and travel experiences. Using machine learning, natural language understanding and processing, AI will be able to analyse customer sentiment and feedback, and even mood, at scale, precision, and speed.
We see a future where the majority of initial customer interactions will be managed without a human, AI and data analytics are enabling companies to anticipate a customer’s next need before they even know it.
Data analytics plays a major role at Cleartrip, and helps shape decision-making across all key business functions. From the propensity to book models which looks at hundreds of data points, to our lifetime value scoring for new customers. Analytics is defining the journey that has to be undertaken to thrive in an increasingly digital-first world.
Our analytics teams spend an enormous amount of time looking at consumer behaviour. As a company we measure hundreds of different attributes and identify problem statements to consider before embarking on a product development journey.
AI itself is becoming increasingly sophisticated and we need to not only keep up, but stay ahead.
Voice is a technology that has been
heavily invested in. It is one of those tools that makes discovery easier and swifter by eliminating the need for multiple inputs. When we integrate this with our customers’ booking behaviour and preferences, we believe we will add considerable value to this mode of discovery and booking, moving towards making travel simple.
While machine learning is at the heart of customer acquisition engines, it is also used to provide better customer experiences. Data analytics and machine learning can be used to streamline search and discovery by retaining the travel-related information previously entered by users across devices and platforms. This not only enables facilitates a smoother booking process, but also improves user retention.
We also utilise data science models for cash-back optimisation, offering more personalised deals to users and improving conversions. This extends to the likes of fare alerts when we expect pricing to increase or drop, to recommendations of experiences and destinations.
We know that personalisation gives customers a feeling of ‘bespoke’ service and thanks to data analytics, customers can receive unique offers and promotions, delivered at exactly the right time, to the right device, even the message itself, tailored to suit the customer. From guidance on when to book flights to when to fly, machine learning allows a customer to have any possible challenges, fully resolved.
Most leisure travel itineraries are flexible; customers looking to make a travel plan for the third week of September might be agreeable to flying out in the first week of October if they can get better fares then.
Solving this requires extensive machine learning and data analytics capabilities. This is vital in times when customers are demanding more, when star ratings and famous destinations are no longer as sought after. Today’s traveller wants unique experiences, boutique hotels, off-the-beaten-track destinations — Sarajevo is one such destination that has recently surged in popularity with Middle East travellers.
Big data is helping companies move from what its staff think is important to what the customer thinks is important. At Cleartrip, we have introduced cuttingedge features including Flexifly, an offering designed to save travellers from the heavy charges associated with amending flight bookings, and 2-d Fare vs Duration Filter, which provides a comparative trade-off between flight duration and fare for long-haul flights.
Newer technological innovations have already driven a lot of disruption in traditional travel processes. Travel will become faster, smarter, and more contextualised. The scale of this disruption is only bound to increase in the near future, which is why companies like Cleartrip invest in constantly upgrading technological capabilities to drive operational differentiation and retain our position as the region’s leading online travel portal.
Data analytics and machine learning can be used to streamline search and discovery by retaining the travel-related information previously entered by users across devices and platforms.”