KLM is jumping on the autonomous bandwagon with Family Updates. The service, which launched in December, drives automated messages about flight departures, arrivals and delays to WhatsApp groups created by KLM customers.
Do you want your friends / family or maybe work colleagues to automatically know about your flight, say if it has landed or if it is delayed? In an airline ‘first,’ KLM has introduced an automated Family Updates service (which is in practice applicable for more than just family) on WhatsApp.
To take advantage of the service, you have to receive your boarding pass via WhatsApp. After having done so you will get an invite to use the KLM WhatsApp service, free of charge. KLM will then send a message to the friends and family of participating passengers as soon as the flight has departed. Immediately after landing – even before the passenger has Wi-Fi or data roaming – the home front will receive another notification. If a flight is delayed, the group members will be informed as well.
In addition to these proactive automated messages, group members can also ask KLM about the flight’s progress. For now, the service is only available in English.
KLM has been communicating through WhatsApp since September of 2017. Customers can ask KLM questions through a verified WhatsApp business account. On request, the airline also sends passengers their booking confirmation, check-in notification, boarding passes and other flight information. KLM says that it sends more than 10,000 boarding passes each day in this fashion. Meanwhile, out of the 35,000 service requests received through social channels every week, more than half come through WhatsApp.
KLM has released a series of short videos promoting the service. For example “hairdresser” shows a woman sitting in a hairdresser’s chair. She receives a WhatsApp message saying her daughter has landed in London, after which she shares the news with her neighbor in the next chair.
Though KLM was the first airline to have a verified WhatsApp account, more now offer services via the Facebook-owned messaging network. This includes Etihad, Caribbean Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Saudia, Sun Express and El Al. El Al, for example, announced its new WhatsApp service in December, saying that this was an extension of the existing EL AL Chatbot, which combines artificial intelligence capabilities with a human representative. The service enables automatic response to the company’s customers on various topics via SMS, Facebook Messenger and now also on WhatsApp.
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