Voice assistants in the transportation industry
Jun 29, 2021
7 MIN READ

How the Transportation Industry is Navigating Voice-Enabled Technology

The transportation industry, a mammoth of global revenue spanning airlines, trains, buses, trucks, and rideshares, is beginning to innovate its customer and employee experiences through voice AI technology. Transportation customers are demanding faster, more efficient, and communicative travel experiences, and voice assistants can provide everything from quicker, hands-free check-ins to statuses on their journey. Travelers are beginning to enjoy the effects of more convenient travel, while employees in the trucking and rideshare industries are experiencing safer driving and improved navigation through voice-enabled vehicles and devices in-car.

The transportation industry is quickly moving toward omnichannel voice experiences, with a majority already voice-enabling a variety of devices. A recent report by Opus Research revealed that 94% of leading transportation organizations have already deployed voice assistants in mobile apps, 50% in smart speakers, and 33% in contact centers. These voice-enabled devices are revolutionizing the way the transportation industry operates by creating superior customer experiences, improving driver safety, reducing operating costs, and increasing revenue. 

While transportation is considered one industry, the companies within that industry are quite diverse, each with its own unique challenges and needs for voice AI technology. To better understand the trends around voice assistant adoption, we’ll take a deeper dive into a few of the industries under the transportation umbrella and take a closer look at how they are deploying voice assistants to improve customer satisfaction and operational efficiencies, including how:

  • Airlines ease travel booking
  • Trains and buses improve rider hygiene and convenience
  • Trucking companies increase on-road safety and efficiency
  • Rideshares help customers stay connected

Airlines book voice-enabled experiences

According to Statista, while the airline industry dropped down to $686 billion in 2020 due to the pandemic, it is projected to be worth $777 billion by the end of 2021 and gain even more momentum as the world begins to reopen. As people return to air travel for business and pleasure post-pandemic, they’ll be seeking interactions that are convenient, hygienic, and frictionless. With airlines seeking ways to meet growing customer demand, voice-enabled mobile apps, websites, kiosks, and contact centers are quickly moving from a nice-to-have to a necessity within the travel industry. Custom voice AI solutions are taking the lead in this trend as a way to create branded experiences and differentiation in a crowded, competitive market.

The airline industry is projected to be worth $777 billion by the end of 2021.

Statista

Voice assistants on airline mobile apps and websites

Before the advent of travel booking sites, customers would search for and book flights on individual airline websites. In the past decade, consumers have turned to popular search engines to find the cheapest, most convenient flights. To combat this trend, airlines have created mobile apps and loyalty programs that keep people returning to them for future travel. By voice-enabling mobile apps and websites, companies can further incentivize customer loyalty with voice assistants that offer faster, more convenient, and hands-free experiences. 

Voice search offers airline companies the bonus of delivering a more streamlined and quicker filtering process. Through a series of types and swipes, customers usually have to select multiple filters to find the right flight. With a voice assistant, a customer can simply ask, “Show me flights going to New York that are under $600 departing on May 31st after 12 pm that are non-stop and have aisle seats,” and immediately find a flight on their favorite airline. 

Voice-enabled kiosks in airports

Once customers have booked their flights and are at the airport, airlines can further improve their experiences by voice-enabling kiosks for customers to check into their flights. Voice-enabled kiosks are contactless, so they increase hygiene in a time when a touchless experience can further ensure customers that their safety is of primary importance to the airline in which they are traveling.

Voice-enabled kiosks are contactless, so they increase hygiene in a time when a touchless experience can further ensure customers that their safety is of primary importance to the airline in which they are traveling.

Voice assistants in kiosks are also faster and easier to use, improving the customer experience and relieving the stress of trying to get through check-in and security in time to be seated on the flight. Voice-enabled kiosks can also relieve some of travel agents’ burdens by answering questions related to flight time updates, luggage requirements, and gate changes.

Voice AI in airline contact centers

Travelers often have many questions about flights, reservations, luggage, and destination transportation. At times, contact center volumes can overwhelm the capacity of available agents, creating long hold times and frustrations for travelers looking to get immediate answers to their questions. Unexpected events, such as severe weather or a shut down as a result of a pandemic or other disaster can stress airline contact centers further. In the airline industry, even predictable seasonal surges can create call volumes that overwhelm the system.

The addition of conversational voice assistants not only relieves the burden of surges in call volumes, but they also have the extra benefit of streamlining phone calls and providing personalized services by remembering callers and having instant access to all the information pertinent to each individual.

The success of voice-enabled contact centers in the travel industry is well-documented, with a report from Voicebot.ai detailing how the Moscow Domodedovo Airport launched a voice assistant for their call center that answers approximately 30% of calls. The voice assistant is also natural-sounding, able to ask follow-up questions, deliver information, and resolve issues.

With voice assistants across mobile apps, websites, kiosks, and contact centers, airlines have the opportunity to increase their brand identity and deliver omnichannel experiences. They can also improve customer support through faster, more convenient voice AI experiences that improve speed to resolution, customer loyalty, operational efficiencies, and ROI.

Houndify Transportation Infographic

Trains and buses enjoy the voice AI ride

The commuter industry is a major source of revenue for transportation companies serving that sector of the population. According to Global News Wire, the commuter rail and public bus service market is expected to reach $285 billion by the end of 2021. Whether customers are traveling long distances or commuting daily, speed, hygiene, and convenience are essential elements of travel. To meet consumer desire for better commuting and local travel experiences, train and bus companies are looking to voice-enable their mobile apps, websites, and kiosks.

Voice AI for train and bus mobile apps and websites

Voice-enabled mobile apps or websites help train and bus customers search for and purchase tickets and receive updates and statuses on delays or cancelations. When commuting, even small delays can create frustration and stress for employees who need to be at work for important meetings or to punch a clock. Voice assistants have the advantage of being able to relay up-to-the-minute information to keep commuters updated on the status of their transportation and help them to make alternate arrangements if required.

Voice assistants for mobile apps and websites can also make it infinitely easier and quicker to search for train and bus schedules and provide purchasing opportunities without being transferred to another agent.

Here are some examples of queries a customer might ask a voice assistant:

“Show me trains leaving on November 23rd between 3 pm and 6 pm to San Diego, CA that are a one-way trip under $100 and leave before noon.” 

“What times does the bus that stops at Homestead Road and drops off at San Antonio Road leave Homestead Road on Mondays?”

By making searching for a train or bus a quicker, more efficient experience, transportation companies can attract commuters who didn’t use public transportation before, while creating better experiences for those that already do. 

Voice-enabled station kiosks

Whether traveling or commuting, speed is an essential element for people trying to get to the next destination. Voice-enabled kiosks can reduce wait time for customers purchasing tickets—a top-end user benefit of voice assistants according to the Opus Research Survey—by offering a faster, more convenient experience. Instead of pushing several buttons and navigating lengthy menus to purchase a ticket, customers can simply ask, “Please purchase me a round trip ticket to Montgomery station,” and make it on their train in time to get a seat during rush hour. 

Voice-enabled kiosks can reduce wait time for customers purchasing tickets—a top-end user benefit of voice assistants according to the Opus Research Survey—by offering a faster, more convenient experience. 

Through voice-enabled kiosks, travelers can also receive information about travel lockers locations, how to get to their connecting train, when their next train leaves, or even directions to local tourist attractions. 

Trucking is loading up on voice assistants

The trucking industry is turning to voice assistants to improve driver safety and experiences in their mobile apps, in-truck devices, and contact centers. Truckers spend a lot of time on the road, and voice-enabled devices built into trucks can provide communication, entertainment, and navigation. Voice-AI smart displays in trucks allow truckers to receive details about popular truck routes, ways to customize a course based on what the truck is carrying, a load-to-dock guidance system, and truck and trailer services directory. 

Voice-enabled devices built into the trucks can provide communication, entertainment, and navigation.

Voice-enabled mobile apps also help truckers by streamlining the process of sending in updates and check-ins, so they can continue on their journey without having to pull over to use their phone. Voice assistants in mobile apps can also help drivers consult important data and perform their nightly check-ins while still on the road. 

Voice AI contact centers can be a powerful resource for truckers as they can call their company about routes, payroll, or be connected to dispatch. Voice assistants can reduce wait times by answering questions quickly, naturally, and conveniently and reduce frustration by interacting conversationally, giving truckers the information they need quickly and accurately so they can get back on the road. 

Rideshares are driving forward with voice technology

Rideshares are a booming business model with the global industry is predicted to reach $212 billion by 2026, according to Fortune Business Insights. Voice AI technology is improving driver and passenger safety in rideshares by creating a convenient, hands-free way of accepting incoming requests, interacting with navigation, and contacting clients. Instead of requiring drivers to type and swipe across their phone or car display, voice assistants allow them to keep their eyes on the road—reassuring passengers and encouraging safe driving habits.

In addition, voice assistants can improve the customer experience and help them reach their destinations faster and more efficiently. A report by Capgemini states that currently, 44% of consumers used a voice assistant to book a ride-share in 2019, with that number expected to grow to 69% by 2022. 

44% of consumers used a voice assistant to book a ride-share in 2019, with that number expected to grow to 69% by 2022.

Capgemini

Using a voice-enabled app, Customers can simply ask, “What’s the ETA for a ride in an SUV to 149 5th Street?” or “How much would it cost to share a car to 629 Main Street?” instead of navigating through a menu with types and swipes. Especially during peak times, prices can increase for rides within minutes, so speed is essential when booking rideshares, and voice assistants can respond quickly and accurately. 

Transportation is an enormous industry with a combined total worth of $2,065 billion across airplanes, trains, buses, trucks, and rideshares. Each industry has its own specific uses for voice assistants, from voice-enabled mobile apps and kiosks to voice AI contact centers and websites. Transportation industry leaders should seriously consider the benefits of voice assistants for their devices as the industry continues to grow along with the customer demand for fast, convenient, hands-free experiences. Airplanes, trains, buses, trucks, or rideshares with voice-enabled devices will stay ahead of the competition and offer benefits to their customers that can’t be beaten. 

Interested in learning more about voice assistants in the transportation industry? Check out our infographic, Custom Voice Experiences Deliver Convenient Travel Booking.

Recently, Opus Research published a research report based on a global survey of 320 business leaders in 8 industries conducted to get the pulse of the state of voice assistant implementation and the trends toward custom voice AI solutions. You can read the report in its entirety and see the on-demand webinar to learn, “The Business Value of Customized Voice Assistants”.

At SoundHound Inc., we have all the tools and expertise needed to create custom voice assistants and a consistent brand voice. Explore Houndify’s independent voice AI platform at Houndify.com and register for a free account. Want to learn more? Talk to us about how we can help bring your voice strategy to life.

Kristen is a content writer with a passion for storytelling and marketing. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking, reading, and spending time with her nieces and nephew.

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