Scottish Governing Body Rolls Out an IVR

ARGYLL AND BUTE, Scotland -- The Argyll and Bute Council implemented a virtual customer contact center powered by Macfarlane Telesystems’ CallPlus Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.  

Previously, the local government chapter had no formal customer service center, despite having customer service queries coming into its various offices. “We had no record of how many customer calls were being answered, how long they lasted, or how many calls were being abandoned,” Mhairi Renton, Argyll and Bute Council customer services center manager, said in a statement. “With the Macfarlane system, we have all that information plus more. We can plan better for peak calling times and, if a call report throws up issues, we can rectify them.”

The Macfarlane CallPlus platform provides the council with an extensive set of contact center applications, including intelligent call handling with skills-based routing, call recording, management information, interactive voice response, and computer telephony integration (CTI). It also enables called number details to be stored on the CRM system so that when customers call again from the same number, customer details emerge on advisors’ screens as calls are delivered to their desktops. Advisors also use the Macfarlane/Lagan screenphone, a software-based system that enables users to make, receive, and manage calls from their desktop screens.

According to Michael Gray, a spokesperson for Macfarlane, the Argyll and Bute Council now has “standard customer service functions where every advisor within the council, regardless of which office they’re sitting in, has access to the same CallPlus software, plus the same CRM software. It’s a completely new setup.”

The virtual customer service center went live in June to handle inquiries about Council Tax, the main form of local taxation in Great Britain. These queries were handled by a four-person team at a single location, fielding 700 to 800 customer calls per week. In a few months, this operation is expected to be many times bigger and to operate across multiple sites. By December, the council anticipates adapting other government concerns, such as benefits, leisure bookings, and its library catalogue, to the Customer Service Center system.   

Implementing the system to handle these disparate areas will require the Argyll and Bute Council to take an explicit look at the specific problems that arise in each area. “For instance, with Council Tax, they looked to the processes, the needs of people with Council Tax queries, and then actually put that function into the contact center,” Gray says. “They will go through the same examination of processes in a very systematic way for each of the departments and areas within the council that they put into the contact center into the future.”

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