Braintree District Council Selects Telephonetics ContactPortal

Braintree is a rural district in Essex, covering 612 square kilometers. It has a population of 134,900, approximately half of which live in one of the three main towns of Braintree, Halstead and Witham. The Customer First Programme was developed to combine the government's E-Government agenda with a program of delivering benefits to customers.

The Customer First Programme is aimed at using technology to improve access to a wider range of services to the Braintree District Council's customers. Braintree District Council has integrated its main switchboard with the Customer Service Centre (CSC) and relocated staff to create one central point of contact. The Customer Service Centre was relocated on August 31, 2005.

Prior to the implementation of the ContactPortal, Braintree Council communicated through a basic telephone system.  For Braintree's workforce of 900 members, staff had to spend time searching for colleague contact details in the council directory and staff working off site had to go through the switchboard unless they knew the extension number of the person that they needed to get in touch with.

The Telephonetics ContactPortal, a speech driven virtual operator, allows staff to dial '77' and say the name of the person to whom they wish to be connected. The solution was recommended by another local authority, Dacorum Borough Council.

Brian Cox, Customer First Programme manager, Braintree Council explained "We considered a number of alternatives; the Telephonetics solution was chosen as it fully met our requirements. It was also the solution that offered the most attractive ROI (Return on Investments); not all of the solutions considered included the voice recognition facility." 

Cox explained, "The use of the ContactPortal has resulted in faster resolution of customer queries and an overall increase of customer satisfaction. The internal voice recognition facility (77) also saves staff time and effort in their daily duties.  Financial savings are difficult to cost but any saving multiplied by 900 people would suggest a significant reduction in money and also in wasted time."

"The 'Missed call notification' offered by the ContactPortal has also improved internal communication.  Members of staff are now informed via an email or SMS from the ContactPortal that they have missed a call; the email also includes the time of the call and instructions of how to return the call," he continued.

Development of the ContactPortal has also allowed Braintree to provide a voice recognition service to outside business callers.  Introduction of an additional phone line has meant that Braintree can take business-to-business calls out of the customer service center and direct them straight to the requested member of staff.

Cox explains, "Telephonetics offer a highly professional and pro-active service which is above the industry norm. They assisted in the cleansing of the council directories.  We now have one central telephone directory instead of the 3 or 4 that existed previously".

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