Ebookers uses IP for international call routing

Online travel agency Ebookers has implemented an IP network across 31 sites in 13 countries in just eight weeks.

Online travel agency Ebookers has implemented an IP network across 31 sites in 13 countries in just eight weeks.

The network has made it easier for the firm to route calls between travel advisers around the world, reducing customer waiting times and cutting costs.

Most trips booked through Ebookers are made over the internet, but for more complex transactions, customers often need to talk to a call centre-based travel expert. The multinational nature of Ebookers' operations means that calls must be routed to an agent with the appropriate specialisation and language skills.

"If all agents in Paris are busy, for example, an enquiry can be routed to Dublin to be handled by a French-speaking agent," said Brent Spicer, Ebookers' director of business development.

Ebookers had a clear idea of the environment it needed to replace the traditional TDM telephony systems in its 31 contact centres: it needed to be highly reliable, centrally managed and based on technology from a single provider.

The company chose applications from communications supplier Avaya and services from systems integrator CCT.

"The applications allow all of our travel agents to be treated as a single 'virtual' global resource. Incoming calls can now be intelligently distributed between sites," said Spicer.

As a result, caller waiting times have been substantially reduced. Six months after roll-out, the number of abandoned calls has fallen by more than 35%, he said.

Costs are down, too. "IP Telephony has allowed us to make a huge reduction in our network transport spending," said Spicer.

"Instead of costly leased lines, all of our call traffic is now carried as packets on Ebookers' wide area network. The days of long distance charges are over - all of our inter-site voice traffic essentially rides for free over our virtual private network."

As a result, Ebookers' contact centres are running more smoothly and prompt action can be taken when they do not, said Spicer.

"The real-time information we receive about the performance of individual centres and individual agents allows us to make rapid business decisions involving our market campaigns - the business has never been so agile."

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