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All-time high competition challenges the airlines.

Leading air carrier improves customer service and lowers contact-center costs.

Competition in the airline industry is at an all-time high, challenging providers to reduce costs while improving quality. In this environment, attracting new customers and retaining existing ones through superior customer service is not only a key competitive differentiator but a necessity. Obstacles met in the search for flight information can diminish a customer's perception of an airline's capability, decrease the opportunity for future revenue, and open the door for other carriers to win the business.

"National Airlines has experienced tremendous success meeting the high demand for air travel to and from Las Vegas," says Fred Crescente, manager of information systems development at National Airlines. "However, rapid growth challenged our reservation center with unexpectedly high call volumes. This created unacceptable hold times to access information and book flights. We were concerned about losing prospects and existing customers."

National Airlines approached California-based Telera with the need for a cost-effective interactive voice response (IVR) solution that could easily scale to support its growing customer base and improve customer service. Telera's Web-driven IVR solution offers National Airlines the flexibility to leverage in-house Web-development staff to rapidly develop and deploy new voice applications using standard Web tools. This environment also enables immediate application changes--allowing National Airlines to quickly respond to increasing customer demands and competitive promotions.

By using an application service provider, National Airlines now has the ability to increase or decrease its port requirements on a monthly basis without any service interruption or change in technology. National Airlines can also "burst" above its contracted number of ports if excess capacity is available on Telera's network.

National Airlines realized benefits almost immediately. The volume of information requests coming into the reservation centers was reduced by more than 14% and hold times were largely eliminated.

By converging Internet and telecommunication technologies, National Airlines has increased its overall efficiency through lower costs and enhanced customer service. The company can now react quickly to growing call volumes and the changing market dynamics of a competitive environment. At the same time, it has been able to leverage the investment in its e-commerce infrastructure to extend feature-rich,

Web-based applications to customers over the telephone. Web servers at the airline send XML pages to the Telera network to configure contact center personalized response choices. Calls are placed locally through Telera servers, which then use Internet protocol technology to handle the IVR application nationally, without long-distance costs. Should a live operator be requested, the system automatically, and nearly instantaneously, switches to the public switched telephone network. National Airlines uses the Telera telecommunications network rather than building its own, providing additional significant savings on equipment costs, maintenance and personnel.

"Customer service is greatly enhanced and hold times at reservation centers are significantly reduced," Crescente states. "Callers requiring immediate and timely flight information can now access data instantly, with virtually no time spent waiting for an agent.

"The current application allows customers," Crescente continues, "to use a telephone keypad to access the information they need, including flight number, date and time of departure, date and time of arrival, origin and destination of flight, flight delay and cancellation information, quickly and efficiently."

During the implementation, application coding, unit testing and customer acceptance testing were conducted. Telera ensured the project was kept on schedule, and that the application met National Airlines' needs.

As operations expand, Telera's flexible intelligent communications network will further allow National Airlines to use standard Web tools to develop and deploy additional self-service IVR and notification applications. These applications include access to frequent-flyer status, and for VIP customers, proactive notification of significant flight delays or cancellations via an outbound phone call or text message sent to their cell phones or pagers.

Circle 265 for more information from Telera
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Title Annotation:Company Operations
Comment:All-time high competition challenges the airlines.(Company Operations)
Publication:Communications News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2000
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