American Airlines – Nortel Networks

Company: Nortel Networks
Customer: American Airlines
Submitted by: Fleishman Hillard UK

American Airlines believes that the nation’s top travelers deserve all the convenience and comfort that they can provide for them. With this in mind, American Airlines recently introduced the travel industry’s very first speech recognition-based application to its Executive Platinum AAdvantage members. Made possible using technology from Periphonics and Nuance Communications, the application allows AAdvantage members to speak their alphanumeric AAdvantage numbers in a natural way, making calling American Airlines easier than ever.

Everyone knows what it’s like to need to obtain some flight information or to change a reservation quickly while traveling. With the Executive Platinum applica-tions, customers simply connect to the airline by calling from any phone from any location within the continental United States. Instead of going through the process of holding the phone, checking their AAdvantage card for their membership number, and pressing the numbers and letters on the keypad, callers can simply speak their AAdvantage number into the telephone. Natural language understanding software from Nuance running on a Periphonics Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system makes it possible for callers to be connected with an American Airlines agent simply by speaking.

American Airlines case study

The new system and the new application replaces an existing service from another vendor that relied on touch-tone. The new system retrieves customer information through an interface with American’s AAdvantage system developed by The SABRE Group, a leading provider of information technology solutions for the travel and transportation industry.

“We purchased this system with expansion in mind,” said Interactive Marketing Manager, Kathryn Stephenson. “Although we are currently using only 24 ports for our initial application, we intend to add others and expand the availability of these functions to more and more of our customers.”

A new Periphonics customer, American Airlines chose the company for the solid partnership shared between Periphonics and Nuance, feedback received from other Periphonics customers, Periphonics’ full suite of GUI application development tools, and the ease of using PeriWorks.

To access the system, members dial American’s Executive Platinum 800 number, and speak their alphanumeric account number. The VPS sends the caller’s speech to a Nuance 6 speech recognition engine which runs on a Periphonics speech processing platform. The text result is returned by the recognizer to the VPS which then retries the requested information from American’s database.

Speech recognition technology allows a computer to understand varying degrees of spoken language and speech by converting analog acoustic signals received through a telephone into digital signals understandable by a computer. Natural language speech recognition offers a significantly higher success rate for alphanu-meric account numbers than conventional touch-tone systems, which can be cumbersome and difficult to use.

“The use of natural language speech recognition by American Airlines sets a new customer service standard,” continued Stephenson. “We’re pleased at the service level improvements that the system affords us. We’re proud to be the first domestic airline to commercially deploy speech-enabled IVR technology.”

American Airlines case study plane

The system currently employs one of the VPS/is units purchased by American Airlines. Calls to the Executive Platinum Desk are answered at American’s Southeastern Reservations Office in Cary, North Carolina, where two systems are located. The VPS is located behind a Rockwell ACD, and data is obtained from the AAdvantage system. Recognition accuracy is tracked and reported with an expectation of 95 percent or better accuracy. As accuracy is ensured and other applications are developed, additional systems, located in Cincinnati, Ohio; Hartford, Connecticut; Tucson, Arizona; San Antonio and Dallas/ Fort Worth, Texas, will be added.

The Airline Group of AMR Corp. consists of American’s passenger and cargo divisions and AMR Eagle, Inc., a separate subsidiary. American is one of the largest scheduled passenger airlines in the world. American and American Eagle provide scheduled service to more than 250 destinations throughout North America, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe and Japan.


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