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Chichester Council Enjoys Significant Customer Service Improvements with CallPlus Contact Center Platform

July 07, 2009

In a time of cutting budgets and dwindling jobs, companies cannot always afford to let their customer service initiatives slide. The same is true for those organizations that are under the public service umbrella.

For the Chichester District Council, the organization has been able to boost the percentage of customer queries resolved on first contact to more than 80 percent. At the same time, this call center cut the number of abandoned calls and boosted customer satisfaction. The improvements are a result of a Council-wide program of customer service investment.

In Housing services alone, the percentage of abandoned customer calls has fallen from 15 percent to just under 3 percent. Even more impressive is that 91 percent of its calls are now answered within 20 seconds. A customer satisfaction poll found that 90 percent of customers are satisfied with the service.

Beyond the improvements that have been seen on the customer side, Housing Officers have had to deal with 79 percent fewer telephone calls. As a result, these individuals have been able to spend more time on important tasks.

The improvements in customer service are the result of a customer contact center and the deep integration of telephone, Web and CRM into the Council’s business processes and established back office systems. Its contact center is powered by Macfarlane CallPlus and Lagan Enterprise Case Management (ECM) technology.

The customer service initiative was launched in 2004 and a pilot contact center was established in 2005 to test the impact of a center on the organization and its customers. All customer calls were routed through the switchboard and by providing agents with access to the Council’s existing Lagan ECM capabilities, the Council sought to resolve more customer enquiries at first point of contact and improve service levels.

Within a short period of time, 8 personnel within the center were dealing with more than 70 processes, over 2,000 telephone calls per week, 150-200 personal visitors and roughly 40-50 e-mail and Web enquiries.

The success of adding Housing and Planning and Building Control services into the customer service centre has led Chichester to add a number of new services - Concessionary Fares, Pest Control, Dog Control, and Land Charge Enquiries. This has boosted the number of contacts handled to around 9000 a month and the center now employs 13 multi-skilled personnel.

By late 2008, the Council needed an enhanced telephony solution that could deliver the flexibility and scalability that they required. It also sought advanced multi-channel contact handling capabilities, as well as the ability to integrate telephony to other in-house systems.

As a result, the Council selected the CallPlus contact center platform from Macfarlane Telesystems, a Lagan gold partner. The system was fully implemented and integrated to Chichester's existing CRM system and Philips (News - Alert) phone system in April 2009.

"The Customer Service Centre initiative has made a huge impact and really changed the ethos of the Council towards service" said Jane Dodsworth, Assistant Director ICT & Customer Service, Chichester District Council, in a statement. "It's now top of the Council agenda!"

The CallPlus platform delivers such capabilities as intelligent call handling, queue management, agent screenphones, call recording, multimedia contact handling, sophisticated management information, interactive voice response and computer telephony integration (CTI (News - Alert)).

Additional features such as an IVR-based customer survey application, a lone worker application and integrated SMS text, & web handling have been purchased and are scheduled to be implemented soon.

"It's been a real pleasure dealing with Chichester Council" said Paul Skinner, Director, Macfarlane Telesystems. "They are totally focused on achieving great results for their customers and have an exciting and fully integrated technology vision that we are delighted to be part of."

Macfarlane has a proven record of providing the services necessary for U.K. companies seeking to improve customer service. The company has been able to demonstrate measurable results that help to demonstrate its core value to the client and the positioning it can deliver to the company in an increasingly competitive market. Customer service matters and this company helps to make it a priority.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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