Skift reports that Hawaiian Airlines is moving much of its customer service interactions from phone to text, which signals a growing trend toward using modern technology to solve customer service issues. Simply put, people talk on the phone less these days, choosing instead to text or use social media messaging platforms.
According to Skift, Hawaiian launched the service this past spring and is among the first to have representatives dedicated to answering text inquiries. The airline employs 12 agents who can monitor roughly seven conversation threads at a time. The result is a quicker and more direct response without all the on-hold muzak and tedious recorded menu instructions.
Airlines have already proven they can handle some customer service tasks via social media, notably Twitter and Facebook Messenger. But airlines have been hesitant to make an organizational commitment to these platforms (including texting) as a primary method of customer service.
In reality, customers have forced the change by tweeting at airlines or posting and messaging on Facebook when something goes wrong. This creates social pressure for the airlines to respond, but also speaks to a larger demand for real-time problem solving as opposed to the old model of 40-minute hold times.
It seems the only real question is how far this trend goes. Airlines will certainly explore using chatbots to handle simple questions, but it seems likely the future will still require true human-to-human interaction, albeit on-screen rather than on the phone.
Chatbots can handle a lot of the work because most people contact customer service with the same basic questions. But when it comes to changing flights or handling complicated requests, only a live person can do the job–for now.
So: what do you think? Would you rather text your carrier than call and wait on hold? Is it more convenient to log into Twitter or Facebook and talk to your airline there? Or do you still prefer the option of talking to a real person? Let us know in the comments below.
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