American Airlines announced the layoff of hundreds of employees Monday as the carrier seeks to reorganize and improve its customer service team, according to the airline.
“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,” the airline said in a statement to KXAS-TV.
The airline did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment Monday night.
The layoffs will eliminate 8.2% of its 8,000 customer service-related positions for a total of 656 employees, who are not represented by a union, according to Bloomberg. The impacted includes 335 who work in Phoenix and 321 in Dallas-Fort Worth. These workers currently assist passengers with their lost luggage and AAdvantage loyalty program service groups.
“We are laser-focused on improving your customer experience,” Carolyne Truelove, American Airlines Vice President of Reservations and Service Recovery, told Dallas News. “With that focus is digging deep into where we have customer pain points.”
Currently, American Airlines passengers have to reach out to separate customer service teams for different issues, but the new structure will consolidate that assistance into one team. This will likely be passengers whose flights are impacted by factors like weather.
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More easily addressed, “lighter-touch” problems will then be outsourced to international contact centers, which operate 24/7, according to Dallas News.
The airline said that first-contact resolution decreases call volume by 20%.
Laid-off employees will work in their positions until March 30 and can apply for one of the 135 spots on the new Customer Success team, or one of the 800 other open American Airlines jobs. Otherwise, they will get severance and job placement support.
Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: American Airlines to lay off 656 workers for new customer service team