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Conversational IVR—Omni-channel customer engagement success stories

American Airlines reaches new heights in customer service

The U.S domestic airline industry's first natural language understanding IVR system delivers fast, personalized IVR self‑service and a superior caller experience while reducing operations costs.

Company profile

American Airlines Group Inc. is the holding company for American Airlines. During 2013 American Airlines completed a merger with the US Airways Group. The combined airline carries the American Airlines name and branding and received a single air operator’s certificate in April 2015.

American Airlines operates from its main hub at Dallas Fort Worth and its hubs in Charlotte, Los Angeles, New York‑JFK, Miami, Chicago‑O’Hare, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Washington D.C. Thanks to the support of its hard‑working employees and loyal customers, American Airlines has grown to become the largest airline in the world.

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American Airlines uses Nuance Hosted IVR

The project development and launch was one of the best planned and executed I’ve seen. Our partnership with Nuance has allowed us to offer our callers an industry‑leading IVR and CTI platform designed to deliver cost savings for the airline while improving our customers’ experience.

Tim Lindemann
Vice President Reservations and Customer Planning
American Airlines

Challenge

  • Design and develop a completely new self‑service IVR system

Solution

Results

  • Improved customer experience
  • Increased call containment 5%
  • Millions of dollars in annual savings

Background

As a result of various buyouts and mergers, American Airlines’ (US Airways’) contact center operation was using multiple interactive voice response (IVR) systems. The systems had multiple voices and a variety of touchtone and speech menus which were inefficient, cumbersome and difficult to navigate. They were running on outdated technology, lacked computer telephony integration (CTI), and offered little insight into key performance metrics like call containment, deflection, and average hold time. What’s more, American Airlines’ (US Airways’) agreement with the Airline Customer Service Employee Association (IBT/CWA) required on-shoring of all reservation agents by November 2011, a transition that would require more integrated and cost-efficient IVR support.

That’s why in December 2009 American Airlines (US Airways) issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the design and deployment of a completely new self-service IVR system. The goals of the system were to increase call deflection, decrease call handling time, and improve the overall caller experience. Specifications included a single branded voice, improved prompting, additional self-service options, and comprehensive performance monitoring and reporting.

After receiving initial proposals, American Airlines (US Airways) quickly narrowed the short list to a handful of vendors, all of whom were proposing Nuance technology as the foundation of their solutions. After careful evaluation of top finalists, the airline ultimately chose to partner with Nuance.

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