UA HNL Call Center to close

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by HiIslands, Sep 3, 2015.  |  Print Topic

  1. HiIslands
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    HiIslands Silver Member

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    United announced that it will close the HNL call center by 2017. The 180 customer service reps here will be allowed to work from home or transfer to call centers in Chicago or Houston.

    I may be biased, but I always felt I got superior service from the staff at the HNL call center. They are well trained, knowledgeable and FRIENDLY. The call center seems to have a culture of excellence.

    A big mahalo nui loa to each and every one of them!

    Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/chicago/...airlines-cutting-overhead-by-jettisoning.html
     
  2. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Sorry to hear this, HiIslands! It appears that more of the professional workforce now telecommutes, so this isn't altogether surprising. But, I agree, the "Aloha" culture of friendliness from this UA call center will be missed. I've enjoyed this from flights on HA, and -hopefully - this airline will long continue their sharing of the Hawaiian culture and values!
     
  3. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    The DTW call center is closing, too. It goes away in April 2016. The company expects that the vast majority of employees will continue on with the new staffing arrangement, even at the lower hourly rate.

    http://blog.wandr.me/2015/09/united-closing-two-reservations-call-centers/

    As for superior service, they were always very friendly but I had one spectacularly bad award booking experience where a 5 minute change took over an hour and multiple different agents and supervisors. That left me quite unimpressed.
     
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  4. HiIslands
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    HiIslands Silver Member

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    When Hawaiian Airlines outsourced their call center to the Philippines, the quality of service dropped dramatically in my opinion. Although Hawaiian values may still be present in some aspects of their service, I don't think outsourcing is consistent with preserving it.
     
  5. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    You do realize that's not what is happening here, right??
     
  6. HiIslands
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    HiIslands Silver Member

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    I applaud United for not outsourcing the work!
     
  7. Flyer1976
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    Flyer1976 Gold Member

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    :confused:

    United has an outsourced call center in Pune, India so how are they "not" outsourcing the call centers?
     
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  8. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    They're not outsourcing these jobs as part of closing the call centers. They're killing the physical space but not firing the employees.

    Context is useful. :-:

    Also, FWIW, I believe UA's main overseas call center group is in the Philippines, not in India.
     
  9. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    It is interesting (sad, actually) to see how United uses this opportunity to triple dip. First they save money by eliminating he real estate costs. Then they save money by reducing the pay rates. Then they reduce IT costs by forcing employees to buy their own hardware and maintain it (doubt that UA IT is going to provide tech support for a myriad of random hardware and software permutations in employees' homes).

    The latter part is particularly interesting. Most companies are interested in having their employees use a standard configuration as far as hardware and software is concerned, to reduce complexity and increase productivity. For UA these employees and their computes are just a commodity. If a driver update on employee X's personal computer interferes with the software needed to access UA's reservation system... oh well... good luck... Maybe call the Geek Squad. In the meantime some other agent will do your job and earn your money.
     
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  10. Garp74

    Garp74 Gold Member

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    I'm sorry, but I don't agree with this.

    It's 2015. Everything is now done through either a browser or an app. A simple machine that connects to the internet and has a browser and a microphone port is all a home-based agent needs. If they use an app, then that computer also needs a hard disc drive. No IT support is necessary.
     
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  11. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Yes and no.

    As someone who has supported end users for more than 20 years now I can say, without a doubt, that people are stupid and do stupid things on their computers which cause stupid problems. In a corporate environment we can restrict the computer to only run the apps or webpages we want. On their home computer I have no such control. About all I can do is enforce a rule which makes sure the AV is running and current when they connect to the VPN endpoint.

    The systems are mostly idiot-proof at this point and shouldn't have much in the way of maintenance requirements so long as the user isn't completely an idiot, but that's hard to ensure in this era.
     
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  12. ssullivan
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    ssullivan Gold Member

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    Exactly. I work with other technology consultants who consistently have issues with their laptops that are mostly caused by user error, yet the person using it has a great grasp on configuration of some extremely complicated payroll software. Just connecting to Wi-Fi is a challenge for some. There's always some support involved, and that increases with work from home agents where the computer is likely going to be used for a lot more than just handling UA reservations, and is likely to be touched by other family members as well.
     
  13. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Not if they're smart about it.
     
  14. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I work from home. I have a corporate laptop (and plenty of personal hardware as a fall back). I don't generally need IT support, but I also have multiple CS degrees, experience building computers from components, and (I think) some general "street smarts" about what I do with my systems. I don't install random software, certainly not on my work laptop, don't share my computer with others in my household, and if the poop hits the fan, I can easily reimage my machine and reinstall what I need. Recently my work laptop's hard disk died, and I was up and running with a (personal) spare disk within an hour. Next time I am in the office, I will give the dead disk to IT and ask for a replacement.

    But I have also observed coworkers and friends/family messing up their systems. Many times. In many interesting ways. But they are salaried and if their system needs service from IT, they still get paid. Will UA pay its reservation agents while they wait for the Geek Squad beetle to pull up?

    You may just need a browser for many tasks these days. True for UA reservation agents? I find that difficult to believe considering UA's trouble rolling out their public website. If so, browsers get updated on a regular basis, often automatically. And updates may break stuff. What if that UA browser app was actually written in Java and suddenly Chrome and Firefox pull the plug on the installed browser plugin for security reasons? Or you upgrade from Java 7 to Java 8 and unfortunately your app(let) isn't compatible with it yet? If it's a client application, how does it deal with, say, Windows 10? Wouldn't shock me if UA's call center computers still ran XP, to be honest. Will their stuff work on Macs? Etc. etc.

    As long as UA can assure that the computers connecting to their system aren't introducing a security risk (are they going to mandate a particular anti virus? Enforce somehow that it's kept up to date?), there is little downside to UA. The agents are commodity. They now take all the risks. Dead disk? Sorry, no pay. Internet outage? Too bad, so sad. (happens rarely for me, but if it does, I just head over to a coffee shop)
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2015
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  15. Wandering Aramean
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    Much more likely that it is a remote desktop app (Citrix XenApp or similar). That way the company maintains total control over the work environment and the computer really is just a dumb terminal browser into the system. And there are clients for nearly every OS, version, etc. out there. That also solves the security problem.
     
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  16. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    I was thinking that they might be using Citrix. I fixed few Citrix problems for my wife's remote access in the past. Not completely without problems in my (limited) experience, but of course much better than a local fat client install.

    Some more thoughts:

    I have a dedicated home office with an ergonomic desk, chair, two large screens, proper lighting and a door I can shut, in a quiet house. And a salary to support that. That may not be true for call center agents. I guess they can sell their car since they don't have to commute anymore :/

    Once UA has set up the infrastructure and processes for remote work, there is really no reason to not drive the cost down further because people in lower cost areas can now compete with those in higher cost areas like HNL. In other words, it would seem unlikely that UA would replace HNL-based agents with new Hawaii-based employees if they can get someone to do the same job in a lower cost region of the country (world) for less money.
     
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