535 — British Airways axes call centre costs

Feb 24, 2003 | Conteúdos Em Ingles

British Airways (BA) claims to have cut its call centre costs by 95 per cent with the help of a new telephone system using technology from speech recognition company Nuance. The call centre previously operated a touch-tone telephone service, which cost BA an average of 3 euros per call.

The decision to upgrade the system was made as part of a larger 900m euros multi-channel customer services initiative. BA decided to implement a three-number strategy for all its customer enquiries – sales, flight information and customer care – to replace the 128 different telephone numbers for its customer services department.

Nuance, and its partner Aspect Communications, developed a voice-driven system to underpin the flight information service, which includes confirmations and departure and arrival information for BA services and the carrier’s Oneworld connections.

The system, which was implemented in 16 weeks, handles around 12,000 calls a day. The average cost to BA has been reduced to 0.22 euros per call in the UK, and 0.15 euros per call when the service was extended to the US, according to Nuance.

John Morneman, chief technology officer at BA, said in a statement: “It’s all very well offering a touch-tone menu when you are dealing with vanilla-type products.

“But when you start getting into complex multi-sectors like travel, touch-tone systems simply cannot fulfil requirements. There are things that are just too complicated for touch-tone to handle.”

The Nuance speech technology is designed to work with customers regardless of accent, dialect or pronunciation.

For example, Nuance said that the BA service is designed to cope with more than 42 different ways of saying ‘London Heathrow airport’.

“We have achieved a remarkable amount with our investment in this technology,” said Morneman. “Due to its flexible nature, we can develop the same system in, say, Australian English, without rewriting the script.

“We can leverage the same investment repeatedly to realise the same benefits across other key BA business regions.”

The system is also designed to recognise when callers are becoming frustrated, automatically directing them to an agent as quickly as possible.


Source: Infomatics Online