As international travel becomes ever-more prevalent, video conferencing allows travelers to ask questions and get answers in real time, in their own language.
Travelers at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol can connect to customer service agents by video using the airport’s website and app, as well as at screens inside the airport, which have replaced traditional information desks. The service, provided by digital strategy and customer service company RIFF and video call specialist 24sessions, has been available since April of this year.
Kun je jouw gate niet vinden of ben je op zoek naar koffie? Ga naar de nieuwe informatiezones!
Posted by Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on Thursday, June 13, 2019
At the moment RIFF supports English and Dutch, but in 2020 hopes to add services in Mandarin, Spanish, French and German. “We want to support passengers in their own language,” said Tobias Walraven, CEO of RIFF. “For example, RIFF [is working on] a mini program in WeChat for travelers from China who only speak Mandarin. It enables live video/audio agent support in their own language directly from our Singapore office 24/7.” Schiphol served more than 500,000 Chinese passengers last year (nearly 1,500 a day) and that number is projected to grow.
Communicating effectively with travelers becomes even more important during an emergency. Earlier this month, thousands of flights were delayed and parts of Schiphol were closed after an Air Europa pilot mistakenly pushed a button that triggered a hijacking alert.
“The emergency procedures worked perfectly right and RIFF was able to answer more than 18,000 information requests within 2 to 3 hours.” – Tobias Walraven, RIFF CEO
Everyone was safe and operations soon returned to normal. But during and after the event, travelers in and outside of the airport, understandably, had plenty of urgent questions ranging from “What the heck is going on?” to “When will my delayed flight take off?”
“The emergency procedures worked perfectly right and RIFF was able to answer more than 18,000 information requests within 2 to 3 hours, most of them generated automatically,” Walraven said.
Headquartered in Amsterdam, with offices in Singapore and Indonesia, RIFF’s role at Schiphol is far more than a call center. In what it describes as an “omnichannel approach,” RIFF operates Schiphol’s customer contact center with a team of 100 who interact via digital and direct contact modes, including telephone, WhatsApp and on location with a specially trained team.
To understand and represent the voice and culture of Schiphol and be nimble enough to respond to all manner of questions and situations, RIFF’s onsite and remote staff work closely with Schiphol’s operations management team and has real-time links to airport information systems.
“Anticipation is important,” said Walraven, “We know what questions will come up. For that reason, we work together with a partner company, Digital Genius, who works with artificial intelligence.”
This article was updated on December 2, 2019.