Emerging Technologies and Markets
Design and Build: Mima the Chatbot, with DfT and Virgin Trains

Snap Out worked with the Department for Transport (DfT) and Virgin Trains to create a disruption bot.

A huge issue in rail is disruption, a major factor that affects customer satisfaction in rail and contributes to a significant proportion of unsatisfied 20% rail users. Twitter is an increasingly popular channel for customer service questions and complaints, where the expectation of more immediate responses is greater.

We designed and built “Mima” with DfT and Virgin Trains, which assists transport providers in responding to travellers in real-time across social media. Mima conducts data analysis and prioritises information to ensure safety and security items are not missed. The bot responded to an assortment of questions automatically at the discretion of the customer services team.

Response time improvement
time saving (hours) for customer support operators per day
automatic response potential with chatbot
“We receive unmanageable amounts of information via social media during a disruption which is difficult to respond to in a timely manner”

The number of customers who complain on social media and expect a response within an hour
1 in 4
UK-based social media users revert to social media to ask questions, make complaints, or share information rather than search for information
of travel questions were requesting updates on disrupted services

This project demonstrated how impactful chatbot technology can be for transport operators. Our analysis showed that customer response times could be improved by over 50% in periods of disruption. We also learned the importance of human-in-the-loop approaches which ensure the important personal touch is maintained, especially during stressful events such as disruption.

Benefits for the customer included:

  • Faster response times, particularly during disruption
  • High priority messages are not missed
  • Accurate and coherent information provided from only one channel
  • Improvement to the way that disruption is managed and communicated
  • Increased customer satisfaction!

For more information on the details of the project, click here (PDF).