Contact centre software improves customer service

Wednesday, 14 January, 2009

New Zealand firm Datacom has improved its customer service by replacing existing hardware-based call centre technology with IP-based contact centre automation software.

Datacom is an information and communications services firm. It handles installation and management of outsourced systems for government departments and high-profile multinationals.

The Wellington-based company employs more than 2400 staff and reported revenues of $390 million in 2006.

Since 1999, Datacom had been using separate voice and data networks for its enterprise communications and inbound call centres in Auckland and Wellington. These systems, ranging from PBXs and voice mail systems to call recorders and interactive voice response systems, were hardware-centric and based on propriety architectures.

“Our existing systems were highly inflexible due to their architectures,” says Greg Magness, managing director for Datacom Services. “Each piece of equipment had its own administration, customisation, reporting and user interfaces. This made system management time consuming and response to changing business requirements slow.”

In 2007, these hardware-based systems were coming to the end of their support period and the company began a review of its computer telephony integration systems.

“As a customer service orientated organisation we needed a unified system to manage all of our client interactions and enable us to reliably and rapidly develop applications for a diverse set of client needs,” Magness says. “It had to run on our existing Cisco network backbone in multiple buildings and in different locations. Importantly, it had to run on as few Windows servers as possible.”

Datacom ultimately chose an IP-based contact centre automation software suite from Interactive Intelligence called Customer Interaction Centre (CIC), which offered the functionality required, including a built-in customisation tool, all running on a single, standards-based platform.

“We were initially impressed with CIC because of its unique, ‘all-in-one’ architecture that uses a centralised engine to process voice, fax, email and web interactions,” Magness says. “CIC gave us an organically grown single-platform, single-vendor software solution with built-in switching, IVR, automatic call distribution, dialling, recording, reporting and more.”

Datacom found the solution through Interactive Intelligence’s channel partner, Amtel Communications. Amtel initially installed a proof of concept pilot for Datacom. As part of the pilot program, the software system was used to help Datacom with one of its client’s support queues.

This pilot was up and running in four weeks, and stayed in use until the full system was ready to go. Amtel trained several Datacom employees in the use of the system, who were then able to roll it out to their own customers.

Currently, each of Datacom’s Auckland and Wellington sites have a CIC server installed with switchover, and the company plans to roll out CIC to several business units. The system currently supports a total of 160 agents at the Datacom in-bound call centres.

The company is currently using the system for voice mail, IVR, multimedia queuing, auto-attendant, ACD, unified messaging, screen pop, reporting, recording, faxing, web chat and web callback.

The company has also integrated the call centre software with CA’s service desk applications as well as an in-house CRM application.

According to Datacom, the call centre software is responsible for providing a better experience to the company’s customers.

Magness says this success is due to the singular, all-in-one nature of the system, which has allowed the company to reduce its total number of servers.

“CIC’s single-platform architecture enabled us to reduce our number of servers from 12 to four,” Magness says. “The costs associated with integrating and maintaining these servers were substantial. We will additionally save on pricey vendor maintenance services, since CIC enables us to perform moves, adds and changes in-house.”

Despite fewer servers, the software solution has given Datacom more applications, according to Magness. “With CIC we now have 40 to 50% more applications than our previous system,” Magness says. “This combined with our ability to customise applications, plus CIC’s web-based reporting tools, have given us significant competitive differentiation.”

Overall, the system has met Datacom’s original requirements and expectations.

“CIC gives us virtually unlimited development potential, which protects our investment, and in turn, our customers’,” Magness concluded.

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