Amazon introduces United Alexa Skill

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Recently United announced via this press release that they were awarded a spot in the 2017 CIO 100 Winners list. CIO is an organization that ‘offers CIO peer insight and expertise on business strategy, innovation, and leadership. CIO is a forum/community where company CIO’s can network and share and exchange ideas. See details of why United made the cut below. It’s worth noting that neither American nor Delta made this list.

United Airlines

In an effort to make long customer lines a thing of the past and give its employees the freedom to do their jobs on the go, United Airlines equipped its customer service agents with mobile handheld devices. United is the only airline with mobile devices that are both cellular and Wi-Fi enabled, giving its employees the advantage of being able to accommodate customers even during network outages that ground its competitors. United’s Mobile Agent Platform (MAP) devices are used by its customer service agents to assist customers in the airport. The MAP devices are loaded with dozens of applications to bring United’s agents out from behind their desks and allow them to work where the customers are, doing things such as closing out flights, changing seat assignments, re-booking passengers on other flights and other airlines and printing luggage tags at the gate. Transactions times for such tasks as customer rebooking during irregular operations have been reduced from 10 minutes to 2 minutes per passenger.
BUSINESS FUNCTIONS: Customer Service or Support
BUSINESS GOAL: Strategic Impact
CIO: Linda JoJo, CIO
INDUSTRY: Hospitality, Travel & Leisure

Whether it’s building technology in-house or working with 3rd party vendors, United is spending a lot of time and money in technology. I recently wrote about another example of this, when United announced the new Flex-Schedule Program pilot to significantly reduce over-booked flight issues at the gate. And now, United intends to keep momentum going by teaming up with Amazon and the online retailer’s widely-praised Alexa-enabled Amazon Echo devices to make several aspects of the travel experience easier on the Chicago-based airline.

As Lewis Lazare first reported in Chicago Business Journal:

Amazon has just introduced a new “United skill” for the retailer’s Echo devices at the Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) website. When the United skill is enabled on Echo devices, United customers will be able to check in for their flights and inquire about various aspects of their flights, including flight status and the range of amenities, such as Wi-Fi availability, on a particular flight.

Just as with the Flex-Schedule Program, United is leading the way as the first U.S. airline to offer an Alexa skill. Said United’s vice president of digital projects and analytics Praveen Sharma:

Every day we connect nearly 400,000 customers to business meetings, loved ones and new adventures. Introducing the new skill to check in and view flight information with Alexa is an innovation that gives our customers extra time to prep for a business meeting, play with their children or take a moment to breathe as they get ready for their upcoming flight.

Anything that makes a customer’s life easier and smoother is a good investment. With how United has been implementing new technology it would seem as though the best is yet to come.


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