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Aeromexico’s Aerobot is proving that artificial intelligence and messaging platforms may be the way to good customer service.

Launched in 2016 on Facebook Messenger and more recently on WhatsApp, Aeromexico’s virtual assistant is like an interactive FAQ. Want to know how much luggage you can bring on your domestic flight? Aerobot has the answer. Interested in flight options from MEX to YUL? Just ask Aerobot. In fact, the chatbot handles more than 90 percent of queries sent by customers through Messenger. (Statistics on its WhatsApp performance were not available at press time, but the airline was one of the first to pilot the app’s enterprise platform.)

The chatbot can also give you flight status updates, help you check in and send your boarding pass to your device. The ability to pay directly from the chat flow is also on the horizon, as is integration with Aeromexico’s crew resource management, says Manuel Nalda Castro, technology manager, Customer Experience.

“In the future, Aerobot will be our best customer and sales agent,” Castro says. “Our bot will be able to do anything that a human agent can do.” For instance, the airline is planning to have Aerobot “talk” to WorldTracer, so it can help passengers track their lost luggage. Though the bot is able to field most queries (and constantly learn from them), a human agent is always available on request or if the virtual assistant is unable to handle the query. An example of what it can’t do? Tell you how to change your flight.

“Our bot will be able to do anything that a human agent can do.” – Manuel Nalda Castro, Aeromexico

The chatbot option makes perfect sense in the Mexican market, where WhatsApp ranks as the top app in the country, with Facebook Messenger falling closely behind. “People in Mexico like to chat,” Castro says. And as Aerobot and other similar machine-learning applications spend more time with customers, they will help drive marketing efforts. “Right now, all the tools are there to execute true one-to-one marketing,” Aeromexico’s former VP Digital Innovation, Brian Gross told news portal AI Business. “But without machine learning, we can’t possibly execute at that level of detail.”

Getting Chatty was originally published in the 8.4 September/October issue of APEX Experience magazine.