The next step in conversational interfaces

I am seeing a lot of traction in automating customer service in travel from hospitality to travel operators.  The challenges around on-boarding and making sense of the data sets to deliver a compelling conversational interface are becoming better understood which gives more confidence in the shape of services to come.

The vision is very much that we will get to a J.A.R.V.I.S. type system that can help us with our work and play.   Companies like Aera Technology are setting out a very compelling vision for the self driving enterprise.  In the meantime, when building out a platform like Dazzle it’s best to be market lead and accelerator programs do a good job to facilitate that.

The Dazzle team has recently won a place on London Midland Labs Accelerator program and I wrote a few words on it for the Lola Tech site:

We’ve started on a journey towards the perfect train journey with London Midland Labs.  Find out how we are using conversational interface to focus on the journey, not the destination.

We were recently approached to apply for an accelerator program that promised to cultivate an environment that would deliver the next big innovation in travel customer experience (which is right up our street).  We were delighted to learn that this pioneering rail initiative was being led by London Midland (the West Midland franchise train operator who earnt £330 million in passenger revenue last year), looking to rejuvenate their offering.  They’re already ahead of the game in the innovation stakes having recently lead the way in re-thinking customer entertainment through Motion, their on-board services agency).

The long suffering British public have been battling poor investment management from public bodies, increased rail ticket prices, and delayed trains for a number of years. In the period 2016-2017 the Office of Rail and Road (the industry regulator) reported number of trains running on time were at the lowest level in a decade. (Source: The Financial Times).

Consequently, the London Midland Labs focal point is to make the customer journey as simple as possible. Specifically, they were interested in our experience building conversational interfaces across voice and Messenger and wanted to explore the possibilities of using our experience to improve the passenger journey on the train. We applied and were invited to pitch to London Midland and their parent company the Go Ahead Group.   Our penultimate slide in that presentation talked about the fact that this is just the type of challenge we relish and we explained that in order to build a new product or diversify your thinking on a platform you’ve created you need to build towards a market need.  It is far easier to build against defined problems rather than blue sky and to do that you need access to users or subject matter experts. The reasons we were so excited about this accelerator is that it provides well provisioned access to both.

We won the pitch at the end of July and are currently 3 weeks into a 12 week program.  We are defining and building out a concise suite of products to improve communication between the brand and the passenger at all stages along the journey rather than focus solely on getting them to their destination.  There is an impressive cohort of businesses who are involved and we’re also evaluating how we can collaborate with them to broaden our and their offering.

We will be demonstrating the fruits of our labours at a big media gala at the end of the year but in the meantime check out our Twitter to keep up to date on what’s going on. We’re really excited about the engagement from our hosts and are looking forward to see the difference this will make to the ways rail companies communicate with their passengers and how passengers communicate with rail brands.


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