A Quebec insurance group is preparing to add a Toronto office to a centralized call centre system that has used skill-based routing to reduce call overflows by 96 per cent.

SSQ Financial Group Thursday said it expects to have its

Toronto office linked to an IP network of three other locations by the end of this month. A diversified financial firm serving one million customers and employing about 1,000 people, SSQ has built its network using Avaya’s MultiVantage Communications Applications suite to better respond to customer calls.

Eric Bourbeau, SSQ’s IT manager, said the company knew it had to begin replacing its legacy PBX system several years ago and turned to a third-party consultant for help. It was also dealing with an overflow of around 400 calls to its contact centres. The company installed Avaya’s Communications Manager and Call Management System first its Quebec City-based head office before rolling out to a location in Montreal. That’s when Bourbeau said he found out SSQ was growing again.

“”We were beginning to hear about the possibility of a Toronto office, “” he said. “”They were not sure we would have enough agents at each location. The scenario was, when you have a new office, you have a new PBX, a new call centre.””

The Avaya software allows skill-based routing, which means calls are redirected to the most appropriate agent depending on what the customer needs.

“”From the origin of the call — say it’s 416– there’s a good chance that client is an Anglophone, so it would be routed to call centre agent in Toronto,”” said Yves St- Amant, Avaya Canada’s new business development manager. “”We’re routing them based on different numbers. Life insurance questions, for example, would be on a different number.””

Expanding into Toronto, Bourbeau said, is simply a matter of adding remote gateways.

“”That changes the whole aspect of the way we were managing our call centres,”” he said. “”This was more than redirecting calls. This was kind of like managing one big call centre, with some agents in some offices.””

SSQ is not going to have many agents in Toronto at first, for example, so many of the calls will be redirected to head office in Quebec, he added.

Further expansion is not an issue from a technology perspective, St- Amant said. “”We can support to 3,600 end points,”” he said.

SSQ was able to retain more than 85 per cent of its existing equipment in the project, St.-Amant added, since the only thing that really had to be replaced in the PBX were the processor cards.

“”The phones are the same, features are the same. They didn’t need to retrain the entire staff,”” he said, adding that skill-based routing eases the ongoing management of both the equipment and the staff. “”They have more time to train because they have less stressed-out agents.””

Avaya business partner Cygnal Technologies managed the SSQ project.

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