Skip to main content

How Orbitz Implemented an Excellent Chatbot Experience (and why you should too)

Author by Nathan Lasnoski

I recently had a challenging hotel situation I needed to resolve. I had booked a hotel in Minnesota for a customer visit and had mistakenly selected the wrong date. This oddly enough happens to me more often than I’d want to admit. In any case… I showed up to the hotel, asked to check in, and was told I didn’t have a room! I soon quickly found out that I had booked the room on the wrong date. So… I of course asked the front desk person if they could change the room reservation, but they could not. This was disappointing, but not unsurprising. I immediately started looking for options to change the reservation, only to find that because of the date I booked it, it couldn’t be changed via the interface. At this point, I found and clicked on the virtual agent. Now my customer service adventure began, with lots of things I liked and one thing I didn’t.

The following happened through the virtual agent, which I would describe as an excellent combination of troubleshooting, immediacy, and customer service:

  1. The virtual agent asked me questions about my scenario (automated) to determine if I was changing, cancelling, etc. a reservation. This was an appropriate point to use an automated interface.

  2. The virtual agent handed me off to a live agent (still through chat) and we talked about the mistake. He offered to help change the reservation. I agreed.

  3. The live agent then called the front desk of the hotel I was standing at. The person picked up the phone, talked with the agent, and got information.

  4. Agent, then through chat communicated that he could change the reservation and provided options to do so that would be of similar cost. I agreed.

  5. The live agent connected on voice and confirmed the credit card information. Call placed to hotel and booking completed. I’d say, this is the area I’d change. This feels a bit to easy to scam and I would have preferred a digital credit card experience that ensures the right level of trust. The idea of a person calling me and me giving them my credit card was a bit strange, even though I did the necessary validation.

  6. The hotel agent confirmed the booking completed and I could now go to my room!

I found this experience fast, intuitive, and easy to work with. I appreciated being connected to a real human, seeing the person work on my behalf, and have an outcome that was acceptable to me. I’d use this as a very effective way digital businesses can insert immediate customer support into their platforms. This was vastly preferred to calling into a call tree or voicemail-hell. Almost any digital platform would be better off integrating an asynchronous experience like this as it is better for the consumer and more efficient for the agent. The one thing I’d change was as noted, would go completely digital on the credit card experience vs. the call. This should be the increasingly intuitive standard for digital products today.

Here is why every business should have an experience like this:

  1. Intuitive for the digital world
  2. Doesn’t make the consumer feel impatient
  3. High customer service feeling
  4. More efficient than calling trees
  5. More customer-friendly than calling trees
  6. Ensures repeat business

Do you have a digital product? Integrate an experience like this and plan for customer service excellence. It will pay off with the loyalty of your customers.

Nathan Lasnoski


Nathan Lasnoski

Chief Technology Officer