Lancaster City Council has improved the service delivered to local citizens and reduced the number of abandoned service calls to its offices by investing in a new customer contact centre. The centre was set up following research conducted amongst 1,000 local residents which revealed that over 80% would prefer to contact the council by telephone - and that they would like to have their queries dealt with at the first point of contact.
The contact centre, which went live as a pilot in June 2005, uses CallPlus contact centre telephony technology from Macfarlane Telesystems and the Lagan Front Line CRM system. The technology implementation was notable for the fact that the integration between CallPlus and Front Line was completed in under a day.
Lancaster's new customer centre currently employs 5 full time personel and handles up to 300 calls per day regarding City Contract Services (i.e. domestic bins, fly tipping, street cleanliness, abandoned vehicles and litter).
According to Jane Allder, Head of Information Systems at Lancaster City Council, the contact centre has already enhanced service levels for local citizens as well as improved operational functionality and management information for Lancaster Council's customer service personnel. "The percentage of service calls abandoned by citizens has fallen from 30% to only 4% as a result of the centre opening - while a recent survey of 200 callers to the centre found that 99.5% were satisfied with the way their calls were handled. The Macfarlane and Lagan solution makes it far easier to identify who owns what tasks, what the status is on these tasks, how many calls are awaiting action, and whether or not service levels are being achieved. This enables us to plan for the future with much greater confidence."
In September 2005, having studied the evaluation of the pilot, Lancaster City Council's Cabinet decided to extend the centre so that customers can call the customer service centre about a wider range of council services in the future.
Commenting, Cabinet Chair and Council Leader, Councellor Ian Barker, said: "One of Lancaster City Council's key priorities is to deliver modern, high-performing customer focused services that are accessible, cost-effective and reflect what customers tell us they need. The customer service centre has been piloted to do just that and the evaluation shows us that we are finding it valuable and receiving a professional telephone service."
"We're delighted to be involved in this exciting project" said Paul Skinner, Sales Director of Macfarlane Telesystems. "Lancaster City Council has acted in response to the needs of its customers and, in a short space of time, achieved amazing results in terms of customer satisfaction ratings and improved call handling."
About Macfarlane Telesystems
Founded in 1987, Macfarlane is a UK developer and supplier of communication solutions to service providers, enterprises and public sector organisations. Its CallPlus platform supports a range of applications including contact centre, IVR and unified communications. The company delivers cost-effective, market-focused solutions directly and through strategic partnerships with vendors such as Lagan, Capita, Northgate, Steria, Onyx, Sx3, and Deloittes.
Macfarlane has established a strong position in the public sector where it assists central and local government reach e-government targets, providing a citizen-centric approach while working within Best Value practices. Existing customers number more than 60 local councils including those within the Government's Partnership programme such as Somerset Direct Partnership, the Warwickshire On-line Partnership, the Cornish Key Partnership, and more recently the Lancashire Direct project. CallPlus has enabled these Partnerships to link their many local councils and create single 'virtual' contact centres that serve citizens on a county-wide basis. More details can be found at www.macfar.co.uk
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