Speech Technology Magazine

 

Georgia Tourism Voicemails Transcribed to Emails

A custom voicemail-to-email app allows tourism centers to respond quickly to voicemails left after hours and during busy times
By Jean Thilmany - Posted Apr 24, 2017
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With just 35 employees scattered across 12 locations, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Tourism Division, didn’t have enough staff to answer all of the 1,200 to 1,500 calls it receives every month during business hours, much less the ones that come in after the facilities close for the day. It had relied on a few out-of-state third-party contact centers to handle the overflow, but pressure was mounting to have all calls handled within state boundaries. The outside call center agents were prompt, but they didn’t have the same regional expertise as the in-state staff.

“We needed a new system that could route calls to other visitor centers if one center was too busy to pick up,” says Ann Perry, Georgia Tourism’s statewide fulfillment coordinator. “Outside of office hours, we wanted voicemails sent via a transcribed email so staff would still be able to answer questions in a timely manner.”

Georgia Tourism found an answer to its problem in ShoreTel Summit, a communications-platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) solution for building voice and SMS apps. Georgia Tourism now uses an integrated voice response application built on Summit.

Answering calls completely in-state costs Georgia Tourism much less than it did when calls were being fielded by out-of-state representatives. The move to the new system not only eliminated the need to pay out-of-state providers but also reduced wait and hold times and has led to a more consistent visitor experience, Perry says.

“Questions are answered much faster than when we had the 800 number that was answered out of state, because we deal with Georgia tourism questions all the time and know the state,” Perry says. “It doesn’t take us any length of time to answer [customers’] questions.”

“Visitors are always telling us how wonderful the customer call service is,” she adds.

Calls to Georgia Tourism’s toll-free number (1-800-VISIT GA) roll in constantly, even after the centers close. Each center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.

People can also drop by the centers to speak with representatives directly. Though Perry and her colleagues appreciate the opportunity to answer questions in person, such interactions mean time away from the phones. Speaking to tourists over the phone has made Perry and her staff feel more connected to those who visit Georgia, she says.

The key to answering questions left after 5:30 p.m. is the Summit system’s integrated voice response application. The service lets Perry receive and read transcribed voicemail messages via email (which she checks every morning). She can manage voicemails the same way she manages emails.

Travelers and potential travelers can also email the tourism centers, and those questions go to a separate email inbox, which Perry checks and manages in the same manner.

“The first thing in the morning, I look at any calls that have come in after hours. I get back to them, and I check them off,” Perry says.

The move to ShoreTel Summit has been a time-saver because Perry can read and log emails faster than she can listen to voicemail. She also has each caller’s question and phone number, in writing, in front of her, meaning she doesn’t need to listen to the voicemail, notepad by her side, to transcribe the information. She can begin her research that much faster, she says.

The voicemail-to-email message includes the name and phone number of the caller, the day of the week, the date, the time and time zone of the call, and the length of the voicemail message.

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