With Nuance Communications, Southwest Airlines maintains superior customer service during flight cancellations.
Southwest Airlines knows that customer communication and customer trust go hand-in-hand. When flights are canceled, customers appreciate knowing right away and having the option to make other arrangements. Southwest also knows that proactively communicating critical information to every affected customer requires more than relying solely on service agents making outbound calls.
Senior Manager, Proactive Customer Communications
Prior to implementing automated communications, Southwest broadcasted fight cancellation alerts over the airport PA system, at the Reservations desk, and on their Website. The company had no way of reaching all of their customers in a timely manner using manual outbound dialing. These events usually created a spike in customer service requests, as service representatives at their contact centers scrambled to handle the flood of inbound calls, while agents at the airport struggled to re-schedule passengers, let alone manage passenger check-ins for those unaffected by cancellations.
With the wide prevalence of mobile technology, customers have increased service expectations, especially regarding the availability of instant information. Southwest sought a solution that would provide travelers and their staff with real-time notifications the moment incidents occur.
“The more options we have to proactively reach our customers, over their preferred channel of communications, the better we can serve them and rise above their service level expectations,” said Fred Taylor, Southwest’s Senior Manager of Proactive Customer Communications.
Southwest augmented their multiple contact centers with interactive automated communications by Nuance. Much like person-to-person dialogue, Nuance uses an expansive library of pre-recorded language called Sea-of-Names, delivered by professional voice talent. The natural intonation and voice quality of the communications are proven to increase response rates, as customers are more engaged with a message that emulates realistic dialogue.
The technology lets Southwest proactively send personalized messages to their customers about a disruption (or potential disruption), briefly explains the accommodations being offered, and provides options to transfer to a service agent, or forward the message to another phone number.