Call centre routes customer inquiries to agents based on knowledge, availability

SynchroSERV has rolled out an IP-based contact centre to measure performance and improve customer service levels.

The Vancouver-based company is a contact centre for the real estate industry, providing 24-by-seven tenant services to companies such as Bentall Capital (which uses the ClikFIX brand name).

But cost savings weren’t as important to SynchroSERV as improving customer service and streamlining business processes through reporting tools and intelligent call processing capabilities. With agents taking calls for real estate covering 28.5 million square feet, the company really needed robust reporting.

“We operate across Canada, and we needed to be able to measure how we were doing performance-wise: our customer service levels, average handling time, average time in the queue, abandon rates,” said Luanne Albino, general manager of SynchroSERV. She added the statistics gleaned from the tool helps managers assign the right number of staff at the right time.

Albino wanted the ability to add new agents to the system as the company grows.

“We were on a beta test of a phone system that wasn’t going to be launched in North America, so we had to go back to square one,” said Albino. SynchroSERV hired a consultant to help identify its needs and work with service providers and vendors to come up with a solution.

It chose Mitel’s Web-based applications for contact centre management, including the Interactive Contact Center, Intelligent Queue and Contact Center Management.

“The Mitel product we chose comes in components and modules so we could size it for our operation today, but it allows us to grow when we have 50 to 300 agents,” said Albino. “Some of the other products were just too big and had a high price ticket.”

Mitel includes skills-based routing, which means customer calls can be routed according to geographic area, skill and language. “We’re funnelling the calls and hoping that’s going to improve first-call resolution,” she said.

Night shift can work from home
They can also program a certain service level into the phone system, which tells them how often they’re hitting that level. The contact centre’s average answer time is six seconds, and its abandon rate is 1.2 per cent.

SynchroSERV also plans to add the Mitel Teleworker Solution, a plug-and-play application that allows employees to work from any location, including remote sites. Albino said this would allow “graveyard” employees to work from home during night shifts.

SynchroSERV rolled out the solution in April, with the help of Microserve, one of Western Canada’s largest resellers.

“It probably took about a month for the actual phone system to go in, but over a lapsed period of four or five months,” said George Young, manager of IT infrastructure with SynchroSERV.

“The biggest challenge with going over to a VoIP system for this number of users — because we’ve never supported one before — was getting clear on the terminology between the reseller and us, and clearly understanding what they were talking about.”

Another issue was that desktop applications had to tie into the phone system. “There’s all of a sudden additional networking components that come into consideration (versus) a normal phone system,” he said. “We set it up on a separate network and we use Quality of Service.”

The network uses HP ProCurve switches and Mitel’s 3300 IP Communications Platform (ICP), which routes and queues incoming calls. Agent desktops are based on IP telephone sets that run over the data infrastructure, which is where integration takes place with desktop PCs. A management and reporting application lets call centre managers manage functions such as workflow, queues and statistical reporting.

“The data network needs to support voice services so there has to be Quality of Service,” said Kevin Johnson, Mitel’s director of channel marketing.

There are two industry trends that SynchroSERV is tapping into, he said. One is virtual customer service groups, where dispersed staff can operate as one cohesive call centre environment. The second is the ability to handle calls, e-mail or online queries at the same time.

SynchroSERV is able to take advantage of the solution they’ve already invested in and add capabilities as their business grows.

“We chose it so that we could better understand our business,” said Albino, “and future initiatives and staff levels (could be) based on those business needs.”

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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