How Finnair and Ultimate navigated Covid-19


Faced with a 600-900% surge in queries in March 2020, Finnair built on established automation processes, maintaining premium customer support without missing a beat.

CRM Integration
Automation rate across all languages 35%
Automation rate during peak pandemic 50%


  • When Covid-19 hit in March 2020, query numbers shot up by 600-900%
  • With support from Ultimate, Finnair swiftly added Covid-19-related intents, refund paths, and English-language support to their existing automation infrastructure
  • Automation reached 50% during the peak of Covid-19 in March 2020
  • Together, Finnair and Ultimate seamlessly transitioned to Salesforce

The Customer: The largest airline in Finland

Finnair is Finland's largest airline, known for its sky-high standards when it comes to customer support. Its 250 customer service agents provide support in multiple languages, including Finnish, Swedish and English.

In 2018, Ultimate had supported Finnair in implementing a tool that suggested answers to chat agents in real time. This boosted answer accuracy and slashed response times. After its great success, Finnair decided to build chat automation.

Only five months after Ultimate and Finnair’s first automation success story, Covid-19 hit...

The Situation: Navigating Covid-19

In March 2020, Finnair’s query volumes surged. Faced with an increase of 600 to 900%, Finnair needed to respond immediately to an influx of customers reaching out about cancellations and refunds.

For Finnair, a premium brand, the stakes in navigating this challenge were particularly high.

The Solution: Building on the automation processes that were already in place

Thanks to Ultimate’s strong customer success support, Finnair was able to effectively navigate the Covid-19 crisis by:

  • Providing Covid-19-related information in the very first place customers would turn to: their virtual agent’s welcoming message. Right away, customers could indicate whether their query concerned Covid-19 or not.
  • Introducing a new support path for cancellations and refunds with automated support in Finnish and English: The virtual agent collected upfront information in a chat conversation, then summarized that information in an email sent to their human agents. This significantly reduced handle times (AHT), as agents could now see all relevant info at a glance and jump into action immediately, rather than needing to ask for the information through live chat or on the phone, or looking through lengthy chat transcripts.
  • In these first weeks, the overall automation rate reached 50% due to the increase in volumes directly related to Covid-19.

A smooth transition to Salesforce

During their collaboration with Ultimate, Finnair also decided to change their CRM to Salesforce.

Expanding automation and building backend integration

When it comes to improving their customer experience through automation, Finnair is in it for the long haul. The next leg on Finnair and Ultimate’s journey will include building an automation virtual agent for the Finnair App and Facebook while working on a backend integration to increase automation rates.

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