Liverpool City Council has deployed a cloud-based contact centre from 8x8, setting a milestone in its digital transformation journey.
The council had previously included the introduction of a self-service model for citizens, but one of the barriers to this effort was the limitations of the council’s existing Avaya legacy on-premise communications and contact centre infrastructure, which was in need of an upgrade.
Driven by cost-cutting measures to reduce the number of council offices, the new setup enables contact centre staff to work from home, rather than at a central service centre, which has become essential given the coronavirus lockdowns.
Discussing the project, Alison Hughes, assistant director of ICT at Liverpool City Council, said: “I previously didn’t see contact centres as transformative but agility is important. It can help to reduce staff travel time and our carbon footprint.”
In her experience, with staff being able to work effectively from home, fielding call centre enquiries, people are much more productive and improve their work life balance.
She said the roll-out of the contact centre has provided the council with a genuine opportunity to improve customer service. In the past, she said handover of calls were not always slick and some of the processes were clunky. The migration involved moving from a Cisco and Avaya-based system to 8x8, and required call scripts and workflows to be copied from the old system onto the new one, which gave Liverpool City Council an opportunity to rethink some of them.
“When you start digging, there is loads of scope,” said Hughes.
At the start of the March 2020 lockdown, the council needed to provide staff with Cisco Office Extend and Avaya phones to work from home as call centre operators, said Laura Jones, ICT programme manager at Liverpool City Council. To roll this out to 300 staff would have been costly, and as the telephony hardware was in need of a refresh, the council assessed alternatives.
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The council selected 8x8 to replace the legacy system and deliver a single, integrated cloud voice, team chat, meetings, contact centre and communications platform as a service (CPaaS). The new platform has enabled staff to continue delivering essential services for residents and businesses while working remotely from anywhere and from any device. Agents now have full transparency, giving them a complete view of the customer journey.
Jones said the platform currently runs the contact centres for ICT, HR, payroll and customer access. In March, finance and social care will be added.
As the contact centre expands, Jones said the council aims to make it multi-channel to cater for an older demographic, people with complex benefit needs or where English is not a first language. It also hopes to trial face-to face video calls.