Hornsby Shire Council deploys customer interaction centre

Tuesday, 15 December, 2009

Hornsby Shire Council has completed the deployment of a 20-site, 500-seat unified communications solution using the Interactive Intelligence Customer Interaction Centre (CIC) application suite.

The solution was selected following a competitive tender managed by PABX Advisory Services in conjunction with Hornsby Shire Council and was part of the Group Council Tender project (GCT-T7). The implementation began in July 2009 and was completed in early September with the suite being hosted by Optus and maintained on the council’s behalf by Interactive Intelligence’s partner, CallTime Solutions.

The CIC application suite has enabled the council to replace its existing PABXs across three sites and then integrate an additional 17 stand-alone sites including its work depots, libraries, childcare centres, aquatics centres, sports centre and other remote sites under a single wide area network which allows data and voice to use the network. This has dramatically reduced ongoing telecommunications costs for the council and has introduced greater manageability and control in the way the system is administered and used by the 20 locations.

The CIC suite also supports the council’s distributed customer service model across these sites. Rather than routing all calls via a single call centre or receptionist, the interactive voice recognition (IVR) technology channels callers to the most appropriate decentralised customer service area. Automatic call distribution queuing has been introduced to support staff decision making and to enable more efficient answering of calls.

Early monitoring shows that these technologies are helping to deliver faster customer service, with calls being moved to the appropriate areas across council more quickly with lower abandonment rates and overall costs.

Craig Munns, Manager Information Systems, Hornsby Shire Council, said, “One of the main reasons we looked at Interactive Intelligence was because their design is completely computer software based and able to seamlessly offer integrated telephony and computer applications. We saw this as important because it was able to provide us with a stable telephony platform which council could develop based on future business needs. The end result is that we’ve extended our communication capabilities to an additional 17 sites and made it much easier for ratepayers and the community to contact council.”

To ensure business continuity, the council has deployed the core CIC system equipment in a secured hosted data centre. This means that should a disaster occur at the main council premises making it inaccessible, then any of the other 19 sites could be used and quickly set up to allow calls to be redirected to the agreed location minimising the impact on ratepayers and the general community.

Munns added, “The beauty of the Interactive Intelligence architecture is that it offers the potential for better service to Hornsby Shire Council’s ratepayers and its community by keeping council up to date with the modern communications which would be expected. Also, we can see the potential to expand and use existing capabilities including call centre operations, staff presence/availability, working from home, integration with office and mail applications, and also with council’s corporate systems and other core databases.”

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