American Airlines Achieves Highest Customer Care Quality In VocaLabs SectorPulse Airline Report

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Vocal Laboratories issued its quarterly SectorPulse Airlines report measuring how well eight different airlines handle calls to their toll-free phone numbers.

Of the airlines studied for this quarterly report, American Airlines (AMR: NYSE) was the winner in customer service quality, earning a "B" ranking in caller satisfaction, and an "A" in call completion. No company scored an "A" in caller satisfaction. The other companies generally scored across the range of VocaLabs' grading system.


·         Continental Airlines (NYSE:CAL) scored a "C" in caller satisfaction and call completion

·         Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) scored a "C" in caller satisfaction and a "D" in call completion

·         JetBlue Airways (NasdaqNM:JBLU) scored a "B" in both caller satisfaction and call completion

·         Northwest Airlines (NasdaqNM:NWAC) scored a "B" in caller satisfaction and a "C" in call completion

·         Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) scored a "B" in caller satisfaction and a "D" in call completion

·         United Airlines (OTC BB: UALAQ.OB) scored a "C" in caller satisfaction and a "B" in call completion

·         US Airways (NasdaqNM:UAIR) scored a "D" in caller satisfaction and a "C" in call completion.


There was a substantial variation in the quality of customers' experiences among the eight companies. Raw scores for call completion varied from 71 percent to 88 percent. There were also dramatic differences in automation rates, with the percentage of callers' problems handled without a live agent ranging from none to 18 percent.

United and American had the highest automation rates, and given that American also had one of the highest overall satisfaction scores, there seems to be no negative impact from properly designed and implemented call automation. American, United, JetBlue and Southwest all reported frustration rates of less than 10 percent. The three companies with the highest frustration rates are also the three companies with the lowest overall satisfaction scores.

The most often mentioned complaint was long hold times, which was also the most significant driver of caller frustration. One participant commented, "Make it easy to talk to a live person! I waited seven minutes on hold and gave up! UNACCEPTABLE." This was the most common complaint for Continental, Northwest, Southwest, United and USAir customers, but infrequent at American and JetBlue.

The second-most-common complaint was about poor automated systems. Another participant commented, "The voice recognition software requires improvement. Wasted considerable time trying to explain to the automated system my name etc, which it was not able to discern after repeated attempts. Accomplished the objective very quickly and pleasantly with the live representative."

Data in this report was gathered between February 10, 2004 and March 31, 2004.

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