In addition to Qantas’ announcement of huge cost cuts over the next two years, the Australian airline has announced the trial of a new customer service initiative using the latest speech recognition technology to manage telephone enquiries and reduce call waiting times.
The trial of Qantas Voice will involve Frequent Flyer program members seeking points balances and booking domestic redemption seats during business hours.
Qantas Executive General Manager Sales and Marketing John Borghetti said the airline had followed closely the dramatic improvements in Natural Language Speech Recognition (NLSR) systems in recent years.
He said the Qantas system had been developed specifically for the airline, and was amongst the best in the world in terms of functionality and customer experience.
“Qantas Voice will handle domestic Frequent Flyer award enquiries and bookings, reducing waiting times for all callers.”
Frequent Flyers in Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania will be introduced to the new technology, with the system being rolled out progressively over the next six months for Frequent Flyers in all states and territories.
“A key attraction is that Qantas Voice customers will never have to wait in a call queue, because Qantas Voice will answer immediately, and once fully implemented will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Mr Borghetti said.
“There is no change to our normal telephone sales centres in terms of services offered. A Telephone Sales consultant will always be available to take over the inquiry or booking whenever necessary or when the customer prefers. The technology has been designed to transfer non-standard enquiries directly to an operator.”
Mr Borghetti said that during tests of the new system, customers had been amazed at how natural and intuitive the experience was, and how easy the system was to navigate
The software behind Qantas Voice has been developed by a consortium comprising Unisys Australia, Avaya Communications and Scansoft (formerly SpeechWorks).
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