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Topic: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: LAXintl
Posted 2010-02-22 13:38:52 and read 6039 times.

With ever increased automation, and do it yourself capabilities there is ever less need for the reservations agent.

Quote:
Continental eliminating 600 call center jobs
February 22, 2010

Continental Airlines is cutting about 600 jobs in its reservations centers because customers increasingly prefer to book flights online. Continental told employees about the furloughs on Monday and said they would take effect April 11.

The company said calls to reservations agents are falling 15 percent per year as customers instead buy tickets from Web sites.

Continental also said it won't renew a contract to answer calls for Disney resorts, which will result in about 100 of the 600 job losses. Last year, Continental cited the same downward trend in online bookings when it closed a call center in Tampa, Fla., and eliminated 500 jobs there.

Full story;
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Contin...g-600-apf-2899351741.html?x=0&.v=6

Topic: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: AA737-823
Posted 2010-02-22 14:32:39 and read 5638 times.

Anyhow, this is very unfortunate, I think. Because, while the website is great (particularly co.com in comparison to dl.com or other airlines' websites), sometimes you just have to call to get a problem sorted out, an unusual booking handled, or what-have-you. And now, the wait time will be even longer than previously.

[Edited 2010-02-22 16:14:12 by srbmod]

Topic: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: Bennett123
Posted 2010-02-22 14:51:45 and read 5505 times.

afaik furlough is based on an expectation that if/when market picks up that flight crew will be re hired.

Does that apply in this instance.

Topic: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: Mir
Posted 2010-02-22 15:05:23 and read 5410 times.

Quoting Bennett123 (Reply 6):
afaik furlough is based on an expectation that if/when market picks up that flight crew will be re hired.

Does that apply in this instance.

I doubt these jobs will ever be back - the internet has pretty much made them obsolete.

-Mir

[Edited 2010-02-22 16:15:15 by srbmod]

Topic: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: cslusarc
Posted 2010-02-22 15:58:26 and read 5186 times.

I've worked in a call centre before. They are known to have a very high turnover of workers. I initially thought that CO had decided never to fill 600 vacancies again, but it looks like these are real layoffs. I guess the CO did not benefit from the high turnover that plagues the industry.

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: rgreenftm
Posted 2010-02-22 16:46:34 and read 5031 times.

Quoting cslusarc (Reply 4):
I've worked in a call centre before. They are known to have a very high turnover of workers. I initially thought that CO had decided never to fill 600 vacancies again, but it looks like these are real layoffs. I guess the CO did not benefit from the high turnover that plagues the industry.

My wife used to work in a call center for one of the airlines, and I think airlines, well at the very least hers, bucked any national statistic about employee turnover. Over the course of 2 years she was in the center (she was promoted out) no more than 5% left on their own. I think when you factor in the airline benefits vs lack of pay, many who choose to work in a call center are doing it less for the money and more for the benefits.

That said I don't see reservations agents making a comeback anytime soon. I think you'll instead see customer service centers continue to be staffed to handle the exception rather than the day to day issues a reservations center would.

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: 757luver
Posted 2010-02-22 19:13:34 and read 4730 times.

Sounds another case of technology putting hard working citizens out of work. Seems to be happening a lot here lately. Maybe if we got rid of a lot of the automation that we have in the states the unemployment rate would drop. Hope all the workers will be able to find work doing something else fairly quick.

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: FlyingSicilian
Posted 2010-02-22 20:37:07 and read 4611 times.

In my Houston office we have a worker who is also a part time res agent for CO, she works from home only. I'm sure I'll know in a few days if she is one of those being let go.

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: EA CO AS
Posted 2010-02-22 21:55:03 and read 4494 times.

Quoting rgreenftm (Reply 5):

That said I don't see reservations agents making a comeback anytime soon. I think you'll instead see customer service centers continue to be staffed to handle the exception rather than the day to day issues a reservations center would.

The job IS changing - it had always been considered a sales position, as the title "Reservations Sales Agent" implies. However it's premature to say all airline call-center jobs will be going the way of the dodo. Fact is there IS a component of the population that prefers to deal with a human being, but more importantly those human beings are now being trained to not only handle reservations sales calls, but "web help"-related calls as well. These positions will be of even more critical importance as call centers transition into a support role rather than sales.

Also, keep in mind that many of these furloughs are not only based on traffic being pushed to the internet, but also passenger traffic slowing - it takes a certain ratio of FTEs per enplanement to keep your call service levels (like average speed of answer) acceptable, and as enplanements decrease, so must the number of FTEs.

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: wjcandee
Posted 2010-02-22 22:34:50 and read 4399 times.

Quoting EA CO AS (Reply 8):
- it takes a certain ratio of FTEs per enplanement to keep your call service levels (like average speed of answer) acceptable

Absolutely. And in irregular ops at a hub, as jetBlue found out, you are EXPECTED to have enough folks available to handle the mass of calls you will get. Because when things go wrong, customers don't go on the Net, they pick up the phone, for the most part.

And, by and large, the offshore call centers have trouble delivering -- in my experience -- acceptable service in irregular ops; they are often insufficiently trained or experienced to handle anything more than the routine stuff, and tend to get "stuck on stupid" when you press for more than a rote response.

So CO needs a certain base of available call staff in proportion to the number of emplanements, and a proper reserve available for irregular operations, or they will have Chuck Schumer calling them on the carpet, and the NY media all over them.

(An aside: I know that it's hard for some financial-types to understand, but you have to have the resources available to run a good operation when things get thick. You can save a couple million here and there, and then have to spend ten times that to rescue your reputation when you go sideways after cutting too deep, and/or you lose ten times that in profits while you are trying to rebuild your reputation. Sometimes, paying a little more now, day after day, is smarter than having to pay a big lump sum later. The essence of good management is not reflexively rewarding the guy who says, "We can save X if we cut Y," without evaluating the potential downside.)

[Edited 2010-02-22 22:35:35]

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: rgreenftm
Posted 2010-02-22 22:55:01 and read 4354 times.

Quoting EA CO AS (Reply 8):
The job IS changing - it had always been considered a sales position, as the title "Reservations Sales Agent" implies. However it's premature to say all airline call-center jobs will be going the way of the dodo. Fact is there IS a component of the population that prefers to deal with a human being, but more importantly those human beings are now being trained to not only handle reservations sales calls, but "web help"-related calls as well. These positions will be of even more critical importance as call centers transition into a support role rather than sales.

I think we are saying the same thing here. My point was that with less of a need for RES agents, your going to see them focusing more on the exceptions (aka support, and those rare bookings) - something that it won't take the same level of staffing to fulfill.

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: skyguyB727
Posted 2010-02-22 22:58:23 and read 4345 times.

Quoting wjcandee (Reply 9):
(An aside: I know that it's hard for some financial-types to understand, but you have to have the resources available to run a good operation when things get thick. You can save a couple million here and there, and then have to spend ten times that to rescue your reputation when you go sideways after cutting too deep, and/or you lose ten times that in profits while you are trying to rebuild your reputation.

wjcandee, you make some excellent points. Unfortunately the vision in American business is becoming more and more short sighted. Companies show every day that they prefer to be reactive rather than proactive, because it saves a dollar in the short term. No one wants to consider the long term implications of a business decision anymore.

American consumers are partly to blame for this mentality. Few Americans buy for quality anymore. Nowadays, Americans want the sun, moon, and stars at Wal-Mart prices.

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: F9Animal
Posted 2010-02-23 01:54:49 and read 4212 times.

I have worked Res for a few airlines in my career. It is a fun job, and I think it takes a special person to do it. I do not agree with the elimination of the jobs because of the automation excuse. Some people just don't like using the internet, and res agents are a great tool to fix problems before they get to the airport. They are also a great source of information, and very helpful when things are going badly at the airport. For example, when a series of flights are canceled, most airlines have res rebook passengers. I remember once when my flight canceled. I picked up my cell phone, made the call, and got re-booked on the next available flight. By the time I made it downstairs to the ticket counter, I realized I saved myself at least an hours wait!

Quoting wjcandee (Reply 9):
And, by and large, the offshore call centers have trouble delivering -- in my experience -- acceptable service in irregular ops; they are often insufficiently trained or experienced to handle anything more than the routine stuff, and tend to get "stuck on stupid" when you press for more than a rote response.

You have hit the nail on the head as far as outsourcing these types of jobs. I will use Chase Bank as an example. I was with WAMU before they sold to Chase. I used to talk to real people, and get decent service. About 2 months ago, I got charged a late fee, and called to argue it. I spoke to someone in India, who kept repeating the same thing over and over again, and it totally sounded like he was reading it from a script. I became furious when I told him that he was not understanding me. I asked to speak to his supervisor, and he told me that none were available. I told him that I wanted to send a uniformed police officer to his office, and he advised that I would have to send the officer to India. I eventually hung up. Canceled my banking relationship with Chase, and will NEVER consider them again. I can say I have had similar experiences with airline reservations as well.

I think TWA used prisoners to do reservations for them at one time! Please correct me if I am wrong!

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: triple7man
Posted 2010-02-23 05:43:17 and read 3864 times.

I am retired from AA and I worked in a reservations office. There is still the need for a human touch, and I prefer that. Also I worked for a time on the Executive Platinum Desk, and this is for our most elite customers. They definitely needed the human touch and they got it. When I retired I worked on International Resolution Desk and we served as a help desk for agents. We also took the call when customer wanted to speak to a supervisor. Those definitely made for some interesting calls.
Like all other airlines AA had to make difficult choices and this resulted in the closing of some reservations offices. There was the fear of being outsourced and normally that would not bother me, except that I was 2 years away from an early retirement. AA did something new...we hired agents to work out of their homes. That seems to have worked very well, although that program started around the time I retired.
I still drop by my reservations office when I am in town and that is always a high point of my visit.

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: N328KF
Posted 2010-02-23 06:20:43 and read 3694 times.

Quoting 757luver (Reply 6):
Sounds another case of technology putting hard working citizens out of work. Seems to be happening a lot here lately. Maybe if we got rid of a lot of the automation that we have in the states the unemployment rate would drop.

There are many arguments that might be used in opposition to this trend, but this one is the silliest. You can't hold back technological advance purely for the purpose of saving jobs. If you don't do it, someone else will, and then they'll run you out of business.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_destruction

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: 7673mech
Posted 2010-02-23 08:18:33 and read 3131 times.

Quoting F9Animal (Reply 12):

I think TWA used prisoners to do reservations for them at one time! Please correct me if I am wrong!
Quoting wjcandee (Reply 9):
And, by and large, the offshore call centers have trouble delivering -- in my experience -- acceptable service in irregular ops; they are often insufficiently trained or experienced to handle anything more than the routine stuff, and tend to get "stuck on stupid" when you press for more than a rote response.

What do either of these points have to do with the 600 people losing their jobs?

Continental is eliminating the job ... not moving it overseas.

TWA ... Carl Ichan set something up to use prisoners, but again, how is this relevant to those losing their jobs?

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: tvnwz
Posted 2010-02-23 08:32:44 and read 3044 times.

Quoting 7673mech (Reply 15):
TWA ... Carl Ichan set something up to use prisoners, but again, how is this relevant to those losing their jobs?

Only generally, but the prisoners actually worked out real well. They were in Florence, AZ.

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: wjcandee
Posted 2010-02-23 08:37:19 and read 3013 times.

Quoting 7673mech (Reply 15):
What do either of these points have to do with the 600 people losing their jobs?

Uh...my point was that (a) you still need people at the other end of the phone, and (b) automation may reduce the need for limited-skill offshore folks but not for higher-skill (usually on-shore) folks who can provide resolution during irregular ops as well as handle reservation tasks for those who reject automation. The number needed of such people is proportionate to the number of emplanements.

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: LAXintl
Posted 2010-02-23 09:30:30 and read 2772 times.

Quoting wjcandee (Reply 9):
So CO needs a certain base of available call staff in proportion to the number of emplanements, and a proper reserve available for irregular operations, or they will have Chuck Schumer calling them on the carpet, and the NY media all over them.

Chuck can jump up and down all he wants, but business do not staff for worst case scenarios.

Staffing is normally based on ability to serve the majority of your clients within prescribed time frames. For instance in a call center - answer 90% of the calls within 20 seconds or something.
Building staffing models for the once per year mega storm, and worst case scenarios do nothing but create staffing overages and needles cost liability the other 364 days.

And no, this is not an airline only concept, everyone from McDonalds to AAA tow trucks staff based on normal expectant demand flows, not some one time zenith peak.

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: Slider
Posted 2010-02-23 10:09:31 and read 2546 times.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 18):
Chuck can jump up and down all he wants, but business do not staff for worst case scenarios.

Staffing is normally based on ability to serve the majority of your clients within prescribed time frames. For instance in a call center - answer 90% of the calls within 20 seconds or something.
Building staffing models for the once per year mega storm, and worst case scenarios do nothing but create staffing overages and needles cost liability the other 364 days.

And no, this is not an airline only concept, everyone from McDonalds to AAA tow trucks staff based on normal expectant demand flows, not some one time zenith peak.

Very good points. And I'd add that CO has never outsourced such call center jobs before and also has a call center for their baggage issues.

it's still a higher level of service compared to the other carriers, but the times they are a changing. Adapt or die.

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: EA CO AS
Posted 2010-02-23 10:30:34 and read 2454 times.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 18):
Building staffing models for the once per year mega storm, and worst case scenarios do nothing but create staffing overages and needles cost liability the other 364 days.

  

Most CBAs have provisions that enable carriers more flexibility for staffing as-needed in the case of 'mega-storms' or other unforseen circumstances with extreme operational need. Typically this results in things like mandatory OT, holding agents in continuation of their existing shift, closing any unused vacation slots to future bidding, etc.

It's insanely expensive to implement these measures, but it's only insanely expensive for the duration of the need as opposed to year-round. And when the need arises, obviously the biggest concern is getting calls answered in a timely manner.

Again, while the press release cites use of the internet it's more likely that simple decreases in enplanements YOY, coupled with the loss of the Disney contract is what led to the furloughs. And CO is likely looking at ways to reduce them as well, such as offering voluntary long-term leaves of absence in lieu of furlough, requiring more FT agents to go PT, etc.

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: AM744
Posted 2010-02-23 10:44:35 and read 2375 times.

Quoting 757luver (Reply 6):
Sounds another case of technology putting hard working citizens out of work. Seems to be happening a lot here lately. Maybe if we got rid of a lot of the automation that we have in the states the unemployment rate would drop. Hope all the workers will be able to find work doing something else fairly quick.

Backing out from technology does not resolve that. Enter Mexico City. We have thousands upon thousands of people filling gas, selling subway tickets, 'helping' park your car, packing your stuff at the supermarket ... Productivity and thus wages take a hit. You'll end up with lots of people struggling to make a living because their low value added activities do not call for premium wages.

I guess the morale is that we all need to upgrade our skills on a regular basis.

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: PacificClipper
Posted 2010-02-23 11:45:47 and read 2134 times.

Sad indeed but not unexpected. I'm glad though that CO is not going the "outsource calls to overseas" route. If I''m not mistaken, UA (unfortunately) may be the last U.S. major still outsourcing reservation calls overseas.

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: F9Animal
Posted 2010-02-23 12:40:38 and read 1951 times.

Quoting 7673mech (Reply 15):
What do either of these points have to do with the 600 people losing their jobs?

Continental is eliminating the job ... not moving it overseas.

TWA ... Carl Ichan set something up to use prisoners, but again, how is this relevant to those losing their jobs?
Quoting 7673mech (Reply 15):
What do either of these points have to do with the 600 people losing their jobs?

Continental is eliminating the job ... not moving it overseas.

TWA ... Carl Ichan set something up to use prisoners, but again, how is this relevant to those losing their jobs?

It is relevant. It explains the importance of having res. It also states that even prisoners were used to get the job done. What does it have to do with jobs lost? It shows that these jobs are not just a commodity. It is a necessity.

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: LipeGIG
Posted 2010-02-23 13:54:00 and read 1715 times.

That what happen when airlines imposes a fee. First impact people avoid the service with a fee and the second impact is airlines end up reducing their work force as the fee generation is lower than expected and cost savings requirements continues. That's as many mentioned the technology price, but for sure the free option.


Quoting triple7man (Reply 13):
I am retired from AA and I worked in a reservations office. There is still the need for a human touch, and I prefer that. Also I worked for a time on the Executive Platinum Desk, and this is for our most elite customers. They definitely needed the human touch and they got it.

And because there's no fee for ExPlat they continue to call and ask for services thru phone.

Topic: RE: Continental Eliminating 600 Call Center Jobs
Username: RP TPA
Posted 2010-02-23 14:19:51 and read 1672 times.

Quoting PacificClipper (Reply 22):
Sad indeed but not unexpected. I'm glad though that CO is not going the "outsource calls to overseas" route. If I''m not mistaken, UA (unfortunately) may be the last U.S. major still outsourcing reservation calls overseas.

USAirways does it too. And those outsourced call centers are so very efficient and knowledgeable.  


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