American Airlines says customers who call for flight information will get it faster because of speech-recognition technology that it is adding to its service for frequent travelers.
The technology is designed to save the airline money by reducing the need for employees to handle customer calls, although American spokesman Charley Wilson said the intent was to improve customer service, not cut jobs.
American said that the "Remember Me" system will recognize phone numbers and greet customers by name if they've signed up under American's frequent-flier program, AAdvantage. They can list up to three phone numbers from which they'll call the airline.
If the customer is booked on a flight that day, the system will offer gate and flight information without prompting, the airline said.
The technology is provided by Tellme, a company that Microsoft Corp bought last year.
Tellme executive Jamie Bertasi told The Associated Press that in the recession companies are more concerned with keeping customers happy while also cutting costs — and much of the cost of a call center comes from training people. The technology saves money by cutting the number of calls that require handling by an employee, she said.
Bertasi said American Airlines, a unit of AMR Corp, is the first major carrier to use Tellme's technology, which has been sold to other types of businesses, including Domino's Pizza.
Bertasi said the technology won't help customers find a seat on a fully booked plane.
"Perhaps we'll add that feature," she joked.© Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.