Leeds City Council has rolled nine call centres into one by building a £1.8m contact centre to house 250 agents and 70 back-office staff. The centre will be capable of handling more than 30,000 calls a week.
The council will use the centre to support its electronic service delivery targets and improve citizen access to key services, including housing, social services, environmental services, council tax and benefits.
Contact centre services company Sabio designed and implemented the multimedia IP-based centre, which uses a telephony system from Avaya. Sabio will support all the centre's systems and applications for five years under a managed services contract.
The centre uses Avaya Interaction Center running on the Avaya Communication Manager multimedia contact centre and IP telephony platform. It also uses Witness Systems Impact 360 for Communication Manager - a workforce optimisation system.
Innovations featured at the centre include Plantronics IP headsets, run by Power over Ethernet technology, and flat screens, which both reduce the contact centre's power consumption.
Supervisors use wireless Bluetooth headsets to manage the agents away from their desks. The council is also considering using video over IP to communicate with deaf citizens via sign language.
"The aim of the programme is to eventually deal with [and resolve] 95% of calls [at the first point of contact] either through one centre, or 17 one-stop shops," said Paul Goode, contact centre project manager for Leeds City Council.
The new contact centre will integrate into the council's existing Cisco Lan and Wan, and Siebel customer relationship management and Blue Pumpkin call-routing applications, and will enable the council to use voice over IP across its corporate network, vastly reducing call costs.
Goode said the project was a success, but had held a number of concerns for him as project manager. "I was anxious about whether the technology would work, whether the new building was suitable, whether the people would move, whether it would be done on time," he said.
"In terms of people, process and technology, the risks involved were massive. There were a lot of human resources issues involved in the staff relocations."
The centre is now operational, but will have an official launch in the first week of March.
This was first published in February 2006