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How did a brand in a struggling industry pivot away from traditional into digital so successfully within a single year?

In this episode, we speak with Bayley Clark, Head of Customer Experience at AirAsia, about the brand’s incredible digital transformation strategy — made possible by their brand interaction platform.

Join us as we discuss:

  • Executing digital transformation before and during the pandemic
  • Principles of proactive communication during automation
  • A change management strategy based on people
  • AirAsia’s brand interaction platform

What were the engines behind this stunningly rewarding transformation? Let’s dive in!

Having one platform allows us to have that consistent message from our brand promise

Leaning into a digital-first approach

The pandemic threw a monkey wrench into the global travel industry. Many airlines had to scramble to handle the massive increase in uncertainty, cancelations, and customer complaints.

AirAsia, with magnificent forethought, had already begun to implement its digital transformation strategy before Covid hit. At the peak, the airline was handling 500K frantic customer inquiries — per day.

One of the essential ingredients for their accomplishment was leveraging conversational AI to be able to interact with customers across a multitude of channels. That flexibility enabled them to help more people, and help them quickly.

Delivering against your brand promise during chaos

AirAsia is a huge enterprise with vast legacy infrastructure. How did they drive flawless change management from a cultural perspective?

A main reason is that AirAsia has always been digitally focused, having launched one of the first online ticketing systems over 20 years ago. But they wanted to be much more than just an airline.

The key was education and crystal clear communication. At the top levels of leadership, there was an enthusiastic investment in this brand imperative.

The transition to digital transformation is about education

Opening up new business opportunities

AirAsia’s digital transformation facilitated an expansion into new channels and new streams of revenue. 

It wasn’t just that they launched the Super App to be the company’s all-in-one travel and lifestyle interactive platform. It was also the way their digital-first strategy leveraged automation to open up new revenue streams.

The app allows users to book travel, hotels, and transportation; find the area’s top cuisine; make healthcare appointments; or join a vibrant online community, all with frictionless digital.

The organization has pivoted away from putting all its eggs in the airline basket. They’re diversifying with ground services, food delivery, fintech, payment logistics, online learning, and even grocery delivery services. 

For AirAsia’s customers, it’s a complete guide in one app. For AirAsia, the app represents new avenues for revenue without burdensome CX costs.

Data is the foundation

Because AirAsia has been digitally-minded for so long, they’ve got access to over 700 million people in their ecosystem, one of the fastest-growing digital economies. This is an immensely valuable stockpile of data — valuable in the CX sense. 

With so much rich, meaningful data about individuals, AirAsia leverages their AI to deliver even more personalized experiences through the app.

Thus, data is the foundation for personalized, digitally delivered CX.

Customer experience evolution

As the transformation unfolded, AirAsia was upfront with both customers and employees that “the chatbot technology is not there to replace anybody.” Bayley emphasizes that they’ll always have human agents to deliver complete customer satisfaction. 

It’s about training, system development, and adding new features. Technology can’t replace human resources. AirAsia is a promising example of how to utilize tech to keep your people free to do really meaningful work. 

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Technology as an extension of your brand

AirAsia’s sparkling chatbot AVA has really helped them on the digital transformation journey because even though people realize they’re interacting with a chatbot, the brand consistency is beautifully maintained across every channel.

The real personality created by conversational AI offers a highly customized (and satisfying) customer experience. Ada powered AVA to cross-platform CX success. 

Consistency

What advice does Bayley have for other enterprise organizations that want to craft their own digital transformation journey?

  • Consistency is crucial, in every potential customer interaction 
  • Don’t change your strategy multiple times — that creates needless confusion
  • Educate, be upfront, let people know what you’re doing

Fruitful large-scale digital transformation requires a top-down commitment, and a thoughtful, strategic approach. 

Moving forward

This epic mindset shift isn’t easy. But adopting automated brand interaction will give your business flexibility in the face of unexpected change and the freedom to meet your customers wherever they are. 

Today’s consumers expect real-time assistance and instant gratification. They love convenience and dependable results. AirAsia’s masterful use of technology drives their one-stop-shop Super App, as well as their virtual brand ambassador. 

The result is a profitable diversification that allows AirAsia to delight customers around the world with omnichannel consistency. A truly outstanding digital transformation that was driven by a potent brand interaction platform.