George S. Hall’s call centre is at the hub of the company’s services. A building services engineering maintenance company, G.S.Hall provides maintenance for the essential services in a building, such as plumbing, air conditioning and lighting, as well as support systems like fire detectors and sprinklers, CCTV and security systems. Contracts are usually long term, both for emergency cover and routine maintenance, so it is important that calls to the in-house call centre are handled, logged, actioned and monitored to ensure that they are all dealt with as effectively as possible. In order to support this objective, George S. Hall has invested in Synthesys, call centre scripting software from Noetica.
The call centre has been in operation since October 1996. It is now open for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year (initially, out of hours calls were outsourced to a bureau). The operators take between 3,500 and 4,000 calls a month. Although this volume of calls is relatively low for a call centre of this size, the processing of the calls is highly complex. Each call is logged, and must then be actioned by passing on information to the appropriate parties. Each action is tracked until its conclusion, with further action taken if need be. For instance, if a call comes in from a client to report a light bulb which needs replacing, operators at G.S.Hall log the call and pass it on to the appropriate maintenance bodies, who send out an engineer to replace the bulb. If the action is successfully completed, this information is passed back into the call centre database. If, however, the engineer discovers that it is not the bulb but the fitting which is faulty, this information too is passed to the call centre, who will continue to prompt necessary actions until the repair has been completed satisfactorily. Of all the calls taken in the last three months, 2,500 of them are still being tracked. Most of these are heating and ventilation maintenance, which are the most likely to be complex or longer lasting tasks.
Until December 1997, the call centre used a basic software package which allowed the operator to log in each call on a universal form. Although providing basic functionality, this software could not differentiate between calls or the different specific details needed by different clients or projects. Mike Keane, Call Centre Supervisor, comments:
“After a while, we found that our original software was inadequate for our developing needs, and had to rely heavily on staff expertise and paperwork. Calls were often taking too long, or important information was being overlooked, necessitating extra calls in order to complete tasks. As a call centre for building maintenance we are in a niche market, which we recognised could grow if we became more efficient and had better call handling. We chose Synthesys as a scripting package which would meet these needs for a relatively modest investment.
“Since Synthesys was installed, we have already seen a marked improvement in the efficiency of our call centre, especially in the speed with which each call is logged. Calls are now handled in about half the time it previously took. When the telephone is answered, the relevant script pops up with the name or company of the caller, so the operator knows exactly who they are talking to and what questions to ask. There is no need for paperwork or follow up calls as we have all the correct information at our fingertips, and the time saved allows us to build customer and brand relationships. The information which is incorporated into the system also makes passing the call a much simpler operation. Synthesys’ simplicity at the ‘front end’ is one of its most useful and attractive features – it is easy to learn and easy to use, and improves agents productivity enormously. We are now able to have calls outsourced to us – for instance, we deal with many of our clients’ out of hours calls.
“The script building facility, though more complex, puts control over the system in our hands, so that we do not have to rely on our IT staff if and when script changes are needed, especially if something unexpected were to happen. When we have had unforeseen and particular requirements, such as needing software refined more subtly to suit our business, staff at Noetica have been extremely approachable, and any queries have been quickly and easily addressed. I see it as a partnership between George S. Hall and Noetica, with the goal of making our system totally reliable and ensuring the efficiency and quality of our call centre which is fundamentally underpinning our business growth.
“Our concern, in the end, is for customer care and service, which this type of scripting software provides. I can only stress how our call centre productivity, accuracy and efficiency have improved.”
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