This has allowed Odeon to use a single national phone number for customer enquiries. Odeon used to have two national call centres, and a separate information line for each of its 93 cinemas.
Andy Foster, Odeon's contact centre operations manager, explains, "When a customer was transferred to one of our call centres we had to pay the transfer costs. But a national-rate phone number cuts these costs as well as giving us a share of profit from every call."
With more than 1,000 recordings every week for film showing times, Odeon needed an automated system, Foster said. It chose the voice recognition system from supplier Telephonetics because customers prefer natural language to a touch-tone approach, he added.
"We wanted a professional voice on the whole system," said Foster. "All the information is uploaded at 3am each morning automatically - there is nothing for the cinemas to do."
Direct Dial Inwards (DDI) lines detect where the caller is coming from, and then make a relevant suggestion. The caller is given film information, a facility to book tickets, the queuing time and an option to speak to an agent.
The system has proved to be very robust, Foster said. During busy periods, it takes 15,000 calls an hour and recognition accuracy is 97.8%.
"During the opening weekend of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone the system handled more than 208,000 calls," Foster said. "With another Harry Potter movie and the new James Bond film coming up we hope it will be tested even further."
This was first published in October 2002