The common denominator between airlines and customer service is waiting. Airline customer service is notoriously horrendous in this regard and people can be put on hold for hours for simple questions. Looking to change this, ICM Hub has launched an AI-driven customer service platform that is built on their unique and proprietary airline industry data set. The company plans to continue building their strong database, so customer service personnel can focus on difficult customer conservations. The bot solution has already been launched with certain airlines and they expect to roll it out to other airlines in the coming year.
AlleyWatch spoke with this CEO and Cofounder Alexander Tange on how he plans to deploy the product and continue to build a customer service empire.
Tell us about ICM Hub’s service.
ICM Hub provides an artificially intelligent (AI) solution to help airlines, who have trouble keeping up with increasing, frequent customer inquiries. ICM Hub provides automated, first-class and AI-powered customer interaction so that the service personnel can focus on the difficult customer conversations. The bot solution has already been launched with LATAM Airlines and topbonus loyalty (an Etihad Airways Company).
How is ICM Hub different?
The fact that we already launched with large airlines enabled us to not only validate our solution but to also collect a lot of data. Our key advantage is our datastore which we already built with hundreds of thousand examples. For key airline customer service use cases, we have data across different languages and workflows that allow us to get an industry-tailored AI solution up and running extremely fast.
Why are the airlines well positioned to benefit from conversational AI?
It’s just about the whole equation: airlines are saving a lot for any deflected request from their contact center, agents are happier at work when they don’t have to deal with repetitive and tedious customer requests and traveler want an instant response. We are really creating a win-win-win situation.
We are focusing on the $1B airline market for customer service. Our most logical expansion is the passenger transport segment including customer service for train, bus, car- and ride-sharing companies, which is worth $5 billion. Ultimately, our market is the $26B global customer care market. It’s also a rising trend as the global Virtual Digital Assistant market is estimated to grow to $15.8B by 2021.
What is the business model?
We are charging a flat fee for a pilot, which includes launching our solution and real customer interactions. After the pilot, we move to a monthly subscription model. If our platform helps to convert sales, then we keep a % commission on upsells.
What inspired the business?
Being a management consultant, I spent a lot of time on planes. What I enjoyed least was contacting airlines for anything. It was always a hassle, either a long time on hold or often waiting for an insufficient email response. Those experiences sparked the idea. However, after interviewing airlines executives during the initial idea validation and learning how much airlines spent on customer service, this became a no-brainer.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We are working on an exciting new feature for our bot platform, which not only airlines will like. On top, we are just engineering a bigger strategic partnership. So stay tuned for some exciting updates that are in the works at ICM Hub.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
Talk to customers sooner. Show them a prototype sooner and also learn from their feedback sooner. It’s paramount to validate features (and product-market fit) before implementing valuable tech resources into the product.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Michael Bloomberg. He is the true New Yorker entrepreneur and demonstrated how to build a large enterprise and staying relevant as a CEO for 20 years.
Why did you launch in New York?
Our business is targeting a global market, so why not launch in the capital of the world!
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
Cheeky Sandwiches on Orchard Street. Hole in the wall, always good and yet so different. Must try!