Dutch carrier KLM, already an airline industry leader in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to field customer service inquiries through social media channels, can now deal with many social media interactions without a live agent.

The enhancement allows it to answer more questions in a shorter period of time.

"This is exactly what the customer needs," said Air France-KLM senior vice president of digital Pieter Groeneveld.

KLM said its team of 250 social media service agents engage in approximately 30,000 conversations each week, double the volume they were handling just 13 months ago. The carrier converses with customers on Twitter, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. On average, conversations consist of five or six questions and answers.

In May 2016, working with San Francisco-based tech company DigitalGenius, KLM rolled out an AI platform that turned customer questions into suggested answers that show up directly on the work screen of a customer service agent. The agent could then accept the answer, reject it or personalize it before sending out a response. The platform, which was the first of its kind to be used in the airline industry, now supports more than 50% of all KLM customer-service inquiries, the carrier said.

Because the tool is powered by AI, it has gotten more accurate in generating answers over time. As a result, KLM says it can now automate the answers to the most common questions on any subject without the sign-off of an agent.

"With the help of this next step in social media, KLM service agents have more time to focus on questions that require a human approach," the carrier said.

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