Interactive system takes off at airport

Interactive system takes off at airport

Newcastle International is first to adopt voice response technology

Newcastle International says it is the first UK airport to replace touch-tone keypad call handling with interactive voice response (IVR) technology.

The project has doubled the number of customer calls the airport can handle, freeing up resources and opening up opportunities for new services.

The system is being used to handle a range of enquires, including flight information, car parking and baggage, said IT support manager Darren Kelly.

“It is speeding up the process of dealing with customers because we are able to have more consecutive callers at any one time,” he said.

“It is also a foundation block to take the business forward as we want to develop applications such as a speech-activated airport car park booking module.”

The potential benefits for the airport are significant.

“As more calls are handled by the IVR system, there will be less need to have as many customer service staff handling calls,” said Kelly.

“Staff can become more proactively visible at the airport to help people."

“It will take a while to get to that Utopia, but we are getting there,” he said.

The Nortel Networks and Nuance system integrates with the airport’s flight information application, web site and private phone system. But IVR cannot completely replace the telephone keypad.

“Voice applications allow people to say what they want, but there needs to be an alternative as there will always be some people who do not feel comfortable speaking to a computer,” said Kelly.