Friends Provident is to move all of its UK phone lines to an internet telephony network by the end of the year to improve customer service and business continuity at its UK call centres and offices.
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The UK life insurance company finished moving 4,300 telephone lines - about 95% of all lines in its UK business - to an IP platform this month and will complete migrations in the Isle of Man and at a new call centre opening in Germany by the end of the year. The move is part of a company-wide strategy called Six-Star that has involved using IT to improve response times.
Kevin Sharratt, network consultant at Friends Provident, said using IP telephony (IPT) with software that links an incoming caller's number to their details would reduce the number of transfers needed to route a caller to the correct service agent, meaning calls could be answered correctly within a target of 20 seconds.
Business continuity plans will also be reinforced. "In the event of a disaster, we will be able to set up virtual call centres because staff will be able to log in to any PC terminal and take calls," said Sharratt.
Friends Provident will use Cisco's CallManager software to process calls and Genesys's telephony and desktop software for agents to manage multiple channels of communication including phone, e-mail and web from their computer.
The company tested the system in-house and decided to implement software from Psytechnics to monitor call quality.