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Facebook Messenger launches Airline Customer Service App

Last year, at its F8 developers’ conference, Facebook unveiled its Messenger Platform and introduced the framework for Businesses on Messenger. Now, Facebook is expanding Messenger into new areas, as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines becomes the first air carrier to adopt it for customer service. Starting today, KLM will enable travelers to access information about boarding passes, flight times, check-in times and more, via a single thread on Messenger.

 The service will be available to KLM fliers who book their tickets via the airline’s Web site and opt to receive information via Messenger. KLM, which has 15 million fans on its Facebook page, said the service is a “perfect addition” to its social media strategy.

 Messenger could also have several other new service tricks — including in-app purchases and “secret conversations” — up its sleeve, according to a report this week in The Information. The site reported Monday that the iOS app code for Messenger includes support for in-person payments and chats that might be encrypted for privacy and security.

 However, when we contacted Facebook to learn more about the possibility of these other new services coming to Messenger, their spokesperson was non-commital, saying, “We don’t have anything to share regarding in-app purchases or secret chats.” We’ll have to stay tuned for more on that.

 All Flight Info in ‘One Contextual Thread’

 In the meantime, writing on his Facebook page this morning, Vice President of Messaging Products David Marcus noted that Messenger’s new partnership with KLM addresses a problem he has personally wanted solved for some time: “Removing stress, and complication from air travel.”

 By opting to receive information about flights through Facebook Messenger, KLM travelers will have access to numerous services. They will be able to automatically receive their itinerary, flight updates, and check-in notifications, and also get their boarding passes, and even re-book flights when needed, communicating with the airline “all from one contextual, canonical thread,” Marcus wrote. “Goodbye forgetting the combination of your frequent flyer alphanumerical number and password to obtain your boarding pass, and holding for a long time on the phone to change flights.”

 In a prepared statement on the airline’s Web site, KLM president and CEO Peter Elbers noted that the carrier has seen customer interactions via Facebook increase by 40 percent since it activated the Messenger button last year.

 “Our customers feel comfortable sharing info with us via a more personal platform like Messenger,” Elbers said. “We are now taking our service to customers a step further, offering them the option of receiving all relevant flight documents and information in a single Messenger overview.”

 Two Dozen Businesses ‘Deeply Integrated’ with Messenger

 Messenger Business was announced in March of last year with two inaugural retail partners: Everlane and Zulily. Sources tell us there are now about two dozen businesses that are deeply integrated with Messenger.

 Facebook updates its iOS and Android apps for Messenger on a weekly basis.

 News reports about the latest iOS Messenger code speculate that the in-app purchase option could mean Facebook is looking to compete against other mobile payment apps like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay. While Facebook already offers the option of “Buy” buttons for businesses and enables money transfers through Messenger, co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors earlier this year did not plan to develop its own mobile payment service but would use existing services to take “a lot of friction out of transactions.”

Source: Top Tech News

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