Business Treaveler logo

Travel news, reviews and intel for high-flyers

IBM’s Watson Helping Lufthansa to Optimize Customer Service

Lufthansa and IBM have collaborated in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) for some unexpected outcomes

November 13, 2019

IBM and the Lufthansa Group have joined forces to establish the Lufthansa AI Studio, a collaboration that will use artificial intelligence (AI) to help address the airline’s business challenges, such as improving customer service.

Leveraging the IBM Garage method, the Lufthansa AI Studio’s interdisciplinary team consists of IBM Services professionals with diverse expertise working side by side with Lufthansa employees to quickly test new AI-based business ideas and services suitability, implement them in pilot projects, and roll them out within the company.

The AI Studio is simultaneously working on more than ten different solutions for various departments within Lufthansa Group with a focus on applications for sales, customer service and operational areas. To that end, one of the first projects of the Studio was to integrate IBM Watson solutions, including Watson Assistant and WatsonNatural Language Understanding, in the Service Help Centre (SHC). The 22 employees of the SHC support 15,000 Lufthansa agents at 180 Lufthansa stations worldwide in answering service questions involving check-in and boarding processes, which can add up to more than 100,000 support calls per year.

By integrating IBM Watson AI services, previously disparate data sources can now be searched for possible approaches and answers to customer queries. The SHC employees can phrase their questions in natural language, and the solution is also trained to ‘understand’ specialized aviation and internal company terms to enhance results. IBM Watson manages, searches through, analyzes and interprets the various relevant information sources, such as SharePoint and internal ticket systems. In addition to shorter waiting times of the customers at the check-in, the quality of the information provided as a whole was increased.

Currently, IBM and Lufthansa teams are working together to develop solutions to support further help-desk use cases, including AI technology applied to the end-customer call center. For example, the AI Studio team is developing a new use case aimed at improving the Lufthansa Customer Feedback Management coming through multiple channels. The corresponding data are analyzed by means of a combination of various IBM AI cloud services and made available to the employees in edited form using natural language processing, sentiment analysis or interaction with a chatbot. One example of this is the AI-supported sentiment analysis of social media messages on various channels of the Lufthansa Group.

By combining the right expertise, applied technology and new ways of working in one collaborative space under the motto “Think Big – Start Small – Fail Quickly – Scale Fast,” using cases and innovation ideas that are thought through, promoted and implemented in the AI Studio according to the IBM Garage concept as part of an agile project approach.

“As airlines look to optimize operations and enhance customer experiences, we’re seeing a continued progression of technology deployment to create solutions that deliver a powerful combination of data and technology. Airlines, like Lufthansa, are applying AI to sift through vast amounts of customer data to solve problems and more quickly respond to their passengers’ needs,” said Dee Waddell, Global Managing Director, Travel & Transportation, IBM. “Through the IBM Garage, a unique co-creation experience, IBM experts and Lufthansa employees are working together to develop AI solutions that can rapidly move from a new idea to adoption across the airline, putting data driven insights at the fingertips of employees to help better serve customers. The Lufthansa AI Studio demonstrates the airline’s continued commitment to driving innovation and creating exceptional customer experiences.”