Closer to the passenger:

Brussels Airlines optimizes the evaluation of customer feedback using AI technology

Customer expectations in aviation have become more complex in recent years. Dealing with feedback is a central aspect of increasing customer loyalty, dealing with problems promptly and making good use of the airline staff’s own experiences. However, evaluating this mass of information manually is no longer considered an efficient use of time and resources. This is why Brussels Airlines relies on solutions provided by Lufthansa Industry Solutions (LHIND) to streamline the processing of passenger feedback using artificial intelligence (AI).

The Customer

Flying to 71 airports, including destinations in 20 European countries, two North American airports and 15 destinations in Africa, Brussels Airlines is one of Europe’s best-known airlines and is headquartered in the capital of the European Union.

In total, its 38-strong fleet of aircraft carried over 10 million passengers in 2019. The Belgian aviation company’s 3,100 direct employees tend to the needs of so many people and, if indirect jobs are counted as well, as many as 40,000 people benefit from the their international activities.

The company was founded in 2002 by 40 investors who joined forces to ensure the existence of a stable, future-proof airline in the heart of Europe. Lufthansa AG has been involved with Brussels Airlines since 2008, which led to them joining joined the Lufthansa Star Alliance in 2010. The airline has been owned in its entirety by Lufthansa AG since 2017.

Services LHIND provided to Brussels Airlines at a glance:

  • Development and implementation of an AI service
  • Operation of all critical components
  • Data protection
  • Cloud security
  • Provider communication
  • Support

The Challenge

The airline industry has undergone profound changes in recent years. Those who strive for continued survival in the market need to adapt to current developments and higher customer demands. Passengers have become more price-conscious, but are also placing an ever greater value on issues such as sustainability when they fly. Flexibility is expected, as is constant access to all services. The flight experience should be pleasant, the cabin crew friendly and courteous.

How well Brussels Airlines does in all these categories can be extrapolated from customer feedback. Direct feedback from passengers regarding the flight experience is one of the most important metrics for the airline to evaluate its own standards, those of its customers and also those of the crew on board. How good was the food? How smooth was the flight? Were all the necessary materials for ensuring perfect service accessible on board? Did any technical anomalies occur that pilots need to report back?

This feedback must be collected, processed and passed to the relevant departments quickly. Only in doing so can problems be resolved rapidly, in turn allowing passengers to feel heard and taken seriously. Until now, evaluating this feedback was an expensive task requiring two full-time employees. Customer comments were evaluated individually and manually, meaning it could take as long as six months to process them, by which time most problems have already become obsolete, causing the passengers to change airlines in disillusionment.

The challenges of performing these evaluations manually should be addressed using technology. It is for this reason that LHIND was brought in, whose expertise in artificial intelligence has provided the impetus necessary for making this change.

The Solution

The aim of the project was to pass written customer and employee feedback on to the relevant department quicker and more efficiently than was previously possible working manually. The solution was an automatic evaluation processes using the technology currently available. Working with LHIND, Brussels Airlines examined the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) and identified which functions they required.

The ‘AI as a service’ solution LHIND developed for Brussels Airlines processes customer feedback independently and sorts it into categories. To do this, the crew first records comments and passengers’ feedback themselves using a portable tablet. The comments are then stored in a data warehouse and sent from there to the AI service, which analyses the content, independently categorizes it and forwards it to the correct department for response and further processing. Thanks to this automatic categorization, the information is forwarded to the department responsible much more quickly, which means that it can be reacted to in a much more efficient manner.

This ‘AI as a service’ solution continues to learn independently, meaning it can be expanded for use in many other cases at Brussels Airlines in the future. The usage-based pricing, the high level of data protection compliance and the simple integration into existing business processes also make the ‘AI as a service’ principle an interesting option for other companies and industries.

Tools and techniques used

  • Artificial Intelligence (Natural Language Processing)
  • ‘AI as a service’
  • Microsoft Azure Cloud
  • Dashboards

Benefits for the customer

By implementing an AI solution, passenger and crew feedback can now be processed automatically. This means that all processes between recording the feedback and finally resolving the specific problem – i.e. the entire evaluation, categorization and subsequent forwarding to the specialist departments – are performed by the AI.

As a result, the manual effort in terms of human resources is reduced considerably. The processing time was reduced to as little as five minutes (where it could previously take up to six months or even a year). This has a clear positive effect on customer loyalty.

The solutions furthermore increase the satisfaction of Brussels Airlines crew and employees. This was achieved through:

  • Automated distribution of flight reports. Gone are the days of manually creating Excels and emailing.
  • Reduced manual processing and human validation. This frees up people to actually solve issues instead of creating and dispatching reports.
  • Increased convenience. Based on the personal requirements of a department tailored dashboards are created that fully suit the department’s needs and can easily be updated

Aspects such as data protection or cloud security, which is becoming increasingly important today, were also taken into account as a matter of course. LHIND implemented the AI solution and continues to support Brussels Airlines in its operation (including AI training, provider communication, support and much more). This allows Brussels Airlines’ IT department to concentrate on new projects and its core areas of expertise without having to worry about the AI. Tangible improvements have already been achieved using the AI software. At the same time, however, this is only one of the first of other such projects in this sector that Brussels Airlines would like to embark upon in collaboration with LHIND in the future. Within the framework of this project, LHIND was able to demonstrate that, with the right support, AI solutions can also be implemented without any previous AI knowledge or expertise within the company. The ‘AI as a service’ principle can, therefore, also allow small and mid-sized enterprises to benefit from the advantages of using AI technology.

At a glance, LHIND’s solution has achieved the following for Brussels Airlines:

  • Automated evaluation and categorization of customer feedback
  • Faster feedback processing
  • Higher customer and employee satisfaction
  • Reduction in manual tasks for the staff and staff time
  • Cost savings
  • Reduction in IT department stress thanks to the ‘AI as a service’ concept

„The LHIND Customer Feedback AI is a crucial component in automated and immediate staff and passenger feedback evaluation post-flight. This allows us to lighten the previous load of manual work for two members of staff, reduce costs and receive faster and better insights into our on-board processes”

Logo Brussels Airlines
Werner Pandelaere
Head of Digital Delivery Brussels Airlines