In a move it says will allow it to “provide an even higher level of support in the future,” American Airlines plans to outsource hundreds of customer service jobs from the USA.
American Airlines Plans To Outsource Customer Service Roles, Slash Jobs In Phoenix + Dallas
As it attempts to improve profitability and more effectively deal with customer service issues, American Airlines believes the path to success includes cutting positions for US workers and outsourcing those jobs. It plans to cut:
The job cuts are effective March 30, 2024. These employees will be invited to apply for open positions in the company, including 135 spots on the new “Customer Success” team. Those who do not take a position within the company will be offered a severance package and help finding other employment.
By outsourcing some of these roles, American says it can offer more reliable 24/7 support on “lighter-touch problems” including lost luggage and certain AAdvantage loyalty programs. This will allow remaining US-based workers to focus on more complex issues.
Rather than maintaining several numbers based on the issue, AA plans a single customer service telephone number that can then redirect calls to the appropriate department.
“Today, we announced updates to our contact center organization that will help us better serve our customers. As part of these updates, we are creating a new Customer Success team that will be dedicated to providing more convenient, elevated support to American Airlines customers with some of their most complex travel needs.”
American began establishing “international customer service teams” in 2021 and claims the groups have been successful. It is not clear to which country these jobs are heading.
American Airlines plans to lay off over 600 of its customer service workers while ramping up hiring outside the USA. It claims this will streamline service and lead to better outcomes for consumers.
Finally, a personal word.
For nearly 15 years I have written this blog and for 20 years I have closely followed the airline industry. I understand the allure of being able to hire dozens of agents in India or the Philippines for the price of one American worker.
But in my experience, it simply doesn’t work. These agents, while well-meaning, lose whatever competitive advantage they have in terms of labor cost by the slow and often inflexible way issues are handled. Most of the time, customers are placed on hold so that these agents, poorly trained and not empowered to offer any solutions themselves, can contact their “support desk” to help on what should be very simple matters like schedule changes or flights that have not credited. The end result? Both a US agent and a foreign agent are occupied to get a small issue taken care of. That’s inefficiency, not efficiency.
Wall Street may love outsourcing (AA stock is up on the news), but I cannot recall a single case in which I have received better, more efficient, customer service from a foreign call center.