Careers in call centres could be a step closer to becoming a reality for thousands of partially-sighted people thanks to pioneering work carried out by the Inland Revenue in conjunction with technology supplier Aspect Communications.
The technology solution has enabled the Inland Revenue (IR) to successfully transfer Jamie Branford, an IR employee for 16 years, from his service office position at an IR Office in Liverpool to a customer-facing role at its Bootle Contact Centre. The move was made at Jamie's own request.
Jamie, who is visually impaired, is now a Revenue Executive at Bootle. His role involves both managing a team of eight Contact Centre Advisers and handling phone calls from IR customers.
Bootle Contact Centre is the first contact point for Liverpool Sefton area and Jamie handles general enquiries on topics such as Pay as You Earn (PAYE) and Self-Assessment. The centre also handles 'overflow' IR calls from other parts of the country.
Jamie knew from the outset that, while he wanted a more challenging role, the technology used within the contact centre would present him with problems. "Having been in various jobs within the Inland Revenue - from working in local tax and training offices to being a Support Manager in a service office - I wanted to move to a job that involved less paperwork and that was customer-facing," explains Jamie. "Working at the Contact Centre in Bootle met those requirements - and was nearer to my home but it was clear that reading small type on a computer screen and using the keys on a telephone handset would present difficulties".
The IR called upon its key technology partners to work with Jamie. Firstly Supernova, a speech and screen magnification package from Dolphin, was loaded onto Jamie's PC. The software magnified information and images on his computer up to 32 times and provided a voice output that let him move around the screen using keystrokes rather than mouse clicks.
Jamie still, however, had difficulties distinguishing the functions printed on the keys of his telephone handset, making functions such as 'transfer' and 'hold call' difficult to achieve. Things got even worse when he tried to use the handset's 'soft-keys' capability that enables phone users to replicate the functions of keys in software using LED displays. Using soft-keys, he was unable to magnify or read the output screen on the telephone at all.
The solution came in the form of Aspect Communications' Winset software, a product that can replicate the standard functions of a telephone handset on a standard computer screen. The Winset software was integrated with the Supernova software, enabling the telephone keypad to be blown up large on Jamie's screen. Jamie can now handle all his calls with mouse clicks or computer keystrokes without having to touch the telephone keypad.
"We're very proud to have been involved in this project and pleased that it has produced an excellent working solution for Jamie" said Jerry Tweddle, Sales Director of Aspect Communications UK. "While it's important to produce standardised technology solutions that can cater for the needs of the mass market, this case demonstrates the need to also have products that provide a broad range of capabilities, giving customers the flexibility to cater for one-off and specialised needs".
About Aspect Communications
Aspect Communications Corporation is a leading provider of contact centre solutions and services that enable businesses to manage and optimise customer communications. Aspect's global customer base includes more than two-thirds of the Fortune 50 and leading corporations in a range of industries, including transportation, financial services, insurance, telecommunications, retail and outsourcing, as well as large government agencies. The company's leadership is based on 18 years of expertise. Aspect is headquartered in San Jose, California, with 24 offices in 11 countries around the world as well as an extensive global network of systems integrators, independent software vendors and distribution partners. Aspect's UK offices are in Stockley Park, Uxbridge, Middlesex and can be reached on 0800 ASPECT (i.e. 0800 277328).
Aspect, the Aspect logo and the phrases and marks relating to other Aspect products and services discussed in this press release constitute one or both of the following: (1) registered trademarks and/or service marks of Aspect Communications Corporation in the United States and/or other countries or (2) intellectual property subject to protection under common law principles. All other names and marks mentioned in this document are properties of their respective owners.
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