The making of an American Airlines phone reservations agent

Do you know American Airlines has hired more than 1,000 reservations agents so far this year?

I know we all have a bad story about having trouble finding a phone agent who can solve our problems, but American has an intensive training program for new agents, according to a recent story in the airline's employee newsletter. The new agents train for nine or 10 weeks before taking their first calls, American says. 

American says it has more than 7,000 reservations agents, and some work from home, while others take calls in offices. During training, they learn in the classroom and then practice taking calls. American says it receives more than 175,000 reservations calls on most days. 

"Reps become experts on everything from computer systems, airline fares, customer service and geography, to city codes, effective listening, special needs services and more," American said in the newsletter. "They keep up with what’s going on in the operation – from new schedules and weather delays to technical issues – so they can book itineraries, answer questions, make special arrangements and keep our customers informed.

New hires aren't the only reservations agents that American is training. US Airways agents and American agents now use two different computer systems, but that won't last long. Both sides of the airline will use American's system by the end of the year. 

Here's one interesting fact for you. American's system is called American Airlines Customer Relationship Network, which the airline abbreviates as, "AACoRN." Someone was trying really hard to make the acronym work. 

Have you recently called American for customer service? How was the experience?

UPDATE: In the comments section, Greg mentioned the new automated phone system that American is using. "They seem to be doing everything they can to prevent you from talking to an agent now," he said. Greg is partially right, though American said this is designed to make the process easier for the customer. 

Here's how American describes the new automated system:

When customers call the Reservations line, the IVR system picks up. If the system recognizes the phone number from a previous customer call, it matches the number with its reservation; if it’s a new number, the system prompts the customer to provide basic reservation information. With that data, the system quickly identifies the call type and auto-populates additional customer information, such as flight data and PNRs.

American believes the new system is more efficient. It told employees that many customers can easily make changes to their reservation without speaking to an agent: 

If personal assistance is needed, the system funnels the call to the rep who can best help the customer; when our reps answer the call, they have immediate access to all data provided, making it easier on the customer.

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