Machine learning can help travel firms become “frictionless” and deliver better customer service, Rentalcars.com’s chief product officer told the Travolution Summit.
Supriya Uchil, who joined from Amazon earlier this year and previously helped scale popular smart phone game Farmville from 16 million to 25 million users, said she was bringing some of the practices over from the online retail giant to Manchester-based Rentalcars.com, which now deals with more than nine million bookings a year in 158 countries.
She said machine learning helps companies deliver “long-term trust” and helps companies keep in touch with customers 24 hours a day with “frictionless” customer service.
“If we provide a service to you and we engage with you and provide customer satisfaction then you are going to come back again and again,” said Uchil. “We are moving to a world of instant gratification. Technology, along with customer service levels increasing will give your customers that instant gratification they crave.”
Uchil said machine learning is to be implemented by Rentalcars to rank vehicles to suit customers’ preferences, cut out price anomalies, figure out the tone of an email to get feedback from customers and process cancellations.
She admitted that Rentalcars.com is doing “really primitive stuff” compared to Amazon, but said it was already having results.
Uchil said trust was particularly important for travel firms because they offer services for customers in foreign countries. Using car rental as an example, she said customers would not trust a company again if they found it difficult to locate the collection point or felt costs were hidden or the terms and conditions were not explained properly.
“If someone is stuck in Saudi Arabia and something goes wrong, we need to be there,” she said. “There’s a possibility of a multitude of things going wrong so we have to be there for the customer at all times.
“Pre-empting the little details that a customer is going to experience is key,” Uchil added. “Then ask yourself what you can do to excel on customer service.”