Next IT in the Wild: Q&A with Allen Sebrell, Amtrak

When it comes to customer experience, the travel industry is not only the most competitive, it also has a lot at stake. Consumers are spending more than ever before on travel, and they’re demanding more options to connect than ever before. Sixty-eight percent of millennials prefer travel companies that offer mobile upgrade purchases or self-service kiosks. And now, 85% of all guests prefer to check in and out via self-service stations.

The travel industry has a lot to win or lose based on customer experience, and the ability to successfully meet their customers where they are. Next IT helps businesses leverage technology to evolve and scale even the best customer experience operations.

That’s why Amtrak turned to Next IT when they wanted to make it even easier for their website’s 375,000+ daily visitors to book tickets online. The AI solution Next IT delivered provides all of Amtrak’s website visitors with instant access to online self-service, giving them answers to their questions and assistance with transactions without having to call or email a representative.

Since going live in 2013, Julie’s results speak volumes, but to get an even better sense of how Next IT is transforming the customer experience at Amtrak, we recently chatted with Allen Sebrell, Manager of E-commerce, who was kind enough to let us share this brief interview with our readers.

Next IT: What business results do you attribute to Ask Julie, the Intelligent Virtual Assistant Next IT developed for Amtrak?

Sebrell: First of all, Julie answers about 10,000 customer queries per day, significantly more than any live agent can address. What’s even more impressive is the quality of Julie’s work. We’ve seen a 20% reduction in unnecessary escalation calls to our contact center agents.

That’s in large part because Julie’s accuracy rate is greater than 90% appropriate. Which is impressive when you consider that we define accuracy in terms of whether the system delivers an adequate response to an inquiry, the first time a question is asked.

Julie also assists in the transaction and conversion process, allowing us to redirect users to our booking tool – so not only is it saving money (cost) it is helping to drive conversions and revenue.

Since deploying Next IT’s solutions, we’ve also been able to develop a better content management strategy. We use the data submitted through the IVA to understand customers’ pain points with our website content, functionality, user interface, new product suggestions, and more.

We’re leveraging our IVA as a 24/7 usability-feedback tool that surfaces valuable, data-driven insights.

Next IT: Are you ever frustrated with IVA technology?

Sebrell: No. In truth, we appreciate how effective IVA technology has been in strengthening an already good product and customer experience. Next IT’s technology allows us to make constant improvements to our system’s interactions, so there’s an opportunity to continuously improve.

Next IT: Do you think AI-assistant technology is ready for “prime time” in corporate America and why?

Sebrell: Absolutely. We were an early adopter of the IVA technology: We’ve been using it for 4 years, and it has provided a great deal of business value.

The travel industry is not alone as it addresses the ever-changing needs of its customers. Businesses of all shapes and sizes are adopting A.I.-powered intelligent interfaces to improve their customer experience operations.

At Next IT, we believe intelligent interfaces like IVAs like Ask Julie are essential means for keeping pace with the changing demands of today’s customers. If you want to learn more about how our AI solutions can transform your business, get in touch. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!