News : Malaysia Airlines’ Hospitality Embraces Digital
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 4, 2018 -- To take its Malaysian Hospitality promise up a notch, Malaysia Airlines is striving to marry the values of its past with the digital landscape. The airline, in a bid to stay current with consumer expectations and be at par with competitors, has revealed three new digital initiatives – MHguardian, MHfeedback and MHchat, its AI-powered Facebook messenger BOT.
The initiatives are a harbinger of what to expect from Malaysia Airlines which just 18 months back, had a digital team of three who were only responsible for ensuring the website was updated. Fast forward today, the team has grown more than 40 people largely comprising of programmers and designers.
Its chief commercial officer Arved von zur Muehlen explains that, "The entire team has completely changed. We now focus on delivering solutions rather than just basic website updates."
The solutions it is looking at include leveraging on Internet of Things (IoT) while it keeps an eye on developments in blockchain and cryptocurrency for possible future adoption.
It is looking at IoT solutions in the form of smart luggage tags since missing luggage is a prevalent problem for customers. It hopes to deliver a solution in the future although no date has been announced.
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As for blockchain technology, the airline is closely monitoring the cryptocurrency landscape although there are no plans to venture into it. In addition to its volatility and the absence of regulation, Malaysia Airlines does not see it as something that will drive customer experience which remains its main priority.
Acknowledging the concerns of job displacement in ticketing offices and call centres from going digital, Muehlen states that staff interaction is key to their core values as a company. "We don’t want to be a machine-driven organisation that is very efficient but cold. That is not our DNA. We need to combine going digital with the warmth of Malaysian hospitality."
The head of digital, Peter Pohlschmidt shares, "As an additional safety feature, the parent can preload a picture of the person responsible for picking the child up. This is where we use machine learning and facial recognition matching to ensure the child’s safety."
Another digital initiative, MHchat, uses machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing to replicate the live contact agent experience. Through this app, the customer will be able to make bookings, payment and retrieve their flight itinerary more interactively online.
"Through MHchat, we can process payment for bookings directly on Facebook messenger. It eliminates the need to redirect to a separate webpage. It is as though you are interacting with the contact centre," says Pohlschmidt who targets the app’s availability within Q2 of 2018.
While this raises concern of data security of highly sensitive information, the airlines strongly assures they have stringent data security controls in place. In light of the recent Facebook data debacle, the airline clarifies that Facebook messenger is only used as a tool in this case but the airlines takes rigorous measures to safeguard customers’ personal data. Malaysia Airlines says it will be the first Asian airline to allow for booking and payment of flights via Facebook Messenger.
One of the apps already available is MHfeedback which allows customers to provide feedback immediately. The app enables passengers to upload photos of unsatisfactory or exceptional services.
By using machine learning to make images analysable, the feedback can then be escalated to respective functions within the airline. "For example, if a passenger uploads a photo of a food tray, the app will send the feedback to F&B services for action to be taken," says Pohlschmidt.
With this initiative, the company foresees greater efficiency in escalation and action. Muehlen shares, "The interaction with our customers becomes so much faster and we get valuable feedback at the same time allowing us to act on problems more quickly."
In short, the various customer focused digital initiatives will allow Malaysia Airlines to deepen its Malaysian Hospitality brand promise to customers.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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