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Facebook Messenger and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines have teamed up, launching a new Messenger bot that can deliver all your flight details directly into the Messenger app. Receiving your flight information via the Messenger bot is optional, but if you choose the service, it will send your itinerary, check-in confirmation, boarding pass, and flight notifications to a single conversation thread inside Messenger.
The travel industry was one of the early adopters of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, first as a means of distributing information and then later for customer assistance, although in some cases with mixed results. Hyatt Hotels was the first of the big hotel chains to embrace social media for customer support and has been quite successful. Most airlines are now using social media to field support requests — Delta was known for its DeltaAssist Twitter account (which it has since transitioned back to @Delta). However, KLM is breaking new ground in customer interaction with its new Messenger bot.
By offering passengers a way to receive all their flight information on Messenger, and also the ability to use the same thread for customer service and support questions, passengers can now use Messenger for most of their interaction with KLM after purchasing tickets. This shift moves passengers away from the company's website and app environment but opens the door for further customer engagement socially on the Messenger platform.
What Information Will KLM's Messenger App Receive?
After you opt-in, the bot will use Messenger to send your:
- Booking confirmation and itinerary after payment confirmation
- Check-in reminder when check-in opens
- Boarding passes after check-in
- Flight status updates leading up to your flight
Additionally, you can use the conversation thread to ask any customer support or flight related questions, and if the bot doesn't have the answers, you will receive a response from a human KLM rep.
How Does The New Messenger App Work?
Per the Messenger/KLM website:
KLM has built in a piece of code on KLM.com that makes it possible for Facebook to show the Messenger plugin to the relevant people on KLM’s website. KLM doesn’t receive any data from you, only Facebook is able to match whether you are using Messenger. The Messenger plugin on KLM.com leverages Facebook cookies and other similar technologies. You can learn more about Facebook cookies and other similar technologies here. Only passengers that have logged in on Facebook or Messenger on the same device in the past 90 days will see the Messenger plugin. If you have deleted your cookies or logged out of Facebook you won’t see the plugin either.
So, essentially, the app checks the cookies left in your browser from Facebook to determine if you use Messenger, and if you do, will display a pre-checked opt-in for receiving all of your flight info direct to a conversation in your Messenger account.
There are three plugins on the KLM website that you can either leave pre-checked to receive the info, or uncheck if you prefer using a more traditional method of check-in and flight updates. The plugins are:
1. After booking a ticket at the passenger details page: for receiving your booking confirmation and check in reminder.
2. After check in at the passenger details page: for receiving flight status updates via Messenger.
3. At the boarding pass print page: for receiving your boarding pass.
By unchecking the opt-in box, you will not receive the information. Once unchecked it remains unchecked until you opt-in again.
How Will The New Messenger App Benefit Passengers?
Rather than having information spread out across multiple emails, native airline apps, printed booking confirmations, and physical boarding pass Messenger becomes a one stop shop. All information about your flights including itineraries, check-in confirmations, boarding passes, and schedule updates will be inside a single cross-platform app that is accessible from any device. And after your information is received, it's available without internet access.
If a situation arises and you need to talk to KLM support, you can contact them via Messenger without the need to switch between apps or emails trying to locate flight information. It's all right in front of you. This quote from David Marcus, Vice President of Facebook Messaging Products, sums it up pretty well.
Now, KLM customers will be able to have fast, contextual conversations about their flights, all from the comfort of an app they already know and love – Messenger.
With KLM sending over 150,000 messages inside the new service in its first month, the results are looking promising.
I already use social media when traveling for most of my interactions with travel and accommodation related support teams. I've found the communication to be faster, more personal and to get much better results, particularly when I am in a country where English is not the first language.
A recent example was turning up to an Airbnb house in Japan that overlooked Mt Fuji, only to be confronted with a combination lock to access the keys and no combination. We were unable to contact the owner on the phone numbers supplied, but managed to touch base with Airbnb's support team on Twitter; they contacted the owner on our behalf from a number on file, and we had access within ten minutes of arriving.
KLM moving the majority of its passenger interaction onto the Messenger platform is the next evolution in social customer service, and I think it is a giant leap forward in how we interact with the airlines we fly. I sincerely hope more airlines follow suit.
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