contact strategy, integrating all of the council's disparate contact centres into a single, seamless organisation, to be known as Contact Islington (CI). In April 2005, Islington Borough Council's parking services contact centre was brought under the control of CI, necessitating the transfer of people, processes and systems on to the new CI platform developed by Centrix and Avaya working in partnership with Islington Borough Council.
Prior to its transition to CI, Islington's parking services contact centre was struggling to meet its performance targets and the quality of service offered was adjudged to be poor.
Migration to CI
Chris Bushell, communications consultant for CI, notes: “We really needed to legitimise the complaints process for parking services within the borough and to apply the same customer-focused service in our approach to parking that had been so successful in other areas of the development of the Contact Islington strategy.”
The parking services contact centre was migrated on to CI's Altitude uCI (Unified Customer Interaction) contact centre platform, which was installed in 2003 to route traffic and monitor the various channels operated by the council – from voice contact through to email, fax and face-to-face queuing within the CI building itself.
Prior to migration, the council's parking service was fragmented, especially in terms of the voice platforms being used. The council was operating six separate parking services sites, and the agents at these sites were using straightforward centrex lines from Telewest, which did not allow for any level of recording or monitoring capabilities. Migrating these disparate services on to a single switch gave CI a much more transparent view of the customer.
In addition, there are certain hotlines that need to be answered 24/7, to report offending vehicles, for instance. It's now possible for priority queuing to be applied to that line. CI now has control of all extensions within the parking services capability, which makes it much easier to manage. Finally, the parking services team now operates in an IP environment, which enables benefits such as remote working.
“Islington Borough Council spent a long period working with us on the planning and strategy for the migration of parking services into the CI platform, and together we built a migration plan to integrate with the council's objectives over 1 year, 3 years and 5 years,” said Ian Calder, commercial director of Centrix.
The migration was given a window of just six weeks to go live, and Centrix worked closely with CI to help it achieve this challenging timescale.
Recording and monitoring
Although Interactive Voice Recording technology from Braxtel Communications was in use within CI, and is now being used for elements of the parking service, CI wanted IVR to be used sensitively, and only when required. Furthermore, CI insisted that call recording was deployed in order to start monitoring the customer calls and adapting the service based on those findings.”
“We wanted to remove the adversarial element from the parking services contact centre so it was important to make sure the call queue was flat and that customers are speaking straight to a real person at least 60-70% of the time,” says Chris Bushell.
“Our approach is really completely different to that of a commercial operation. For many businesses, repeat calls are the sign of a ‘golden customer' – one who is doing repeat business with you, who should therefore be nurtured. For us, if a customer keeps having to call us about the same issue, we're doing something wrong and that call volume needs to be managed downwards.”
There has been a significant increase in customer satisfaction since CI assumed responsibility for parking services within Islington. Call recording and subsequent monitoring suggested customers calling the contact centre on the day that their ticket was issued wanted to pay straight away. As a result, callers are now instantly asked if their ticket was issued that day, at which point they are put straight through to the payment line.
Chris Bushell explains: “The introduction of call monitoring has had a huge effect on reducing the cost of running the parking service. Residents are much clearer on what issues it is appropriate to call CI about, and there has been a marked reduction in CI's outbound phone bill.”