• September 27, 2004
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Automated Agents Help Continental Soar

As the one of the world's largest air transportation systems, Continental Airlines' ability to handle its 40 million customer service calls per year plays an integral role in keeping its customers satisfied. But with such a high call volume, reducing non-value-added costs like customers calling to reconfirm flight information, became a high priority. According to Omar Alvi, manager of speech and wireless programs at Continental, the airline is always in search of new ways to be more competitive, and "any opportunities to remove reduce non-value-added costs is something that we are attracted to." Continental selected Voxify's Automated Agents solution to help manage non-value-added customer calls. The airline estimates that flight reconfirmation accounts for about 10 percent of incoming customer calls; implementing Automated Agents to handle such inquiries frees live agents to process other customer service issues and sales calls. "[Automated Agents] allows customers at Continental to call in and reconfirm the details of their itineraries and reservations using as little or as much information that they might have available," says Adeeb Shanaa, Voxify's CEO. "It allows us to reduce costs by automating routine functions," Alvi says. "But more important, from a customer satisfaction standpoint it allows us to improve service levels, especially when we have spikes in service. Also it allows our agents to focus more on sales." Allowing agents to home in on sales call opportunities can also increase their satisfaction by allowing them to generate more commission on sales related inquiries. Voxify provides Continental with built-in reporting and analytics capabilities allowing for a more in-depth analysis of calls, including drop-off points and likelihood ratios, which help Automated Agents improve call handling and conversion rates. "The history of the travel industry shows that the best customer experiences come from agents who deliver personalized service," says Martin Hand, staff vice president, reservations and city ticket offices, at Continental. "Customers expect the personal touch in every interaction, even if the voice on the other end isn't a [live] human being. We've endeavored [to reach] this standard by delivering a personal touch with every customer interaction." Continental's success with Voxify's Automated Agents has already taken flight. Continental enjoyed a 100 percent ROI within the first three months of deployment, and more than 70 percent of its customers use Automated Agents to complete their reconfirmation. According to Alvi, the airline expects to do more deployments. "We have a number of opportunities that we've identified, but we're still in the process of prioritizing them." Related articles: How Can I Determine the Best Balance of Live Agent Versus Automation?
The Last Mile of CRM Automated customer communications better serves customers, while helping companies cut costs. Automating Problem Resolution in the Contact Center
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