InContact's ACD Software Unifies Call Routing for WIN211
October 24, 2012
The seven regional call centers in the non-profit Washington Information Network 2-1-1 (WIN211) receive thousands of calls from residents seeking referrals to community resources every year. Since all calls come into the same 2-1-1 number and each call center has different PBX (News - Alert) equipment, the network needed an automatic call distributor (ACD) to interoperate with all phone switches to route calls between and within the seven sites.
Since 2006, inContact’s cloud-based call center platform has efficiently handled the job with a hosted ACD enabling unified call routing, flexible routing, call queue, message and port allotment changes to accommodate shifting call volumes, specialists working from home and a no-installed-equipment model that saved $640,000.
Washington’s WIN211 initiative was launched in the wake of a Federal Communications Commission ruling that designated the dialing code for the use of public help lines providing community information. The code was intended to help consumers navigate through the health services maze in local areas, from food and shelter assistance to employment, medical care, and domestic violence.
“We knew that proper call management was critical for WIN211’s success, but we needed the right technology to make it work,” said Mike Maloy, IT manager of King County 211 in Seattle. “As it turned out, the most efficient and cost-effective strategy was to use a hosted call center platform requiring no on-site equipment installation. That’s where inContact came in.”
There were a number of local 2-1-1 services across the country when the Washington network was being planned in 2004, but WIN211 was one of the first programs designed as a statewide implementation to enable geographic coverage, quality of service, and easy multi-site collaboration in the event of disaster, which made it one of the first 2-1-1 projects to confront the technical complications of setting up a common call handling system for multiple call centers. The system had to be capable of directing incoming calls based on the caller’s location, time of day and day of week. It also had to transfer calls between centers or off-site to accommodate call overflow, office schedules, work-at home scenarios and emergency situations.
“We wanted to record calls for use during training and coaching as well as for quality assurance, but some of the vendors who bid on the project could only offer third-party add-on applications,” said Susan Gemmel, director of King County 2-1-1. “With inContact, we didn’t have that extra expense because call recording was built into the platform, and we didn’t have to worry about whether the different pieces of the system would be compatible.”
The upfront inContact investment was just one-sixth that of the leading premises-based contender, thanks primarily to the SaaS (News - Alert) delivery model. Maloy said, “That saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in capital expenses as well as eliminating the need for IT oversight at each location.”
Today, the inContact ACD routes each 2-1-1 call to the appropriate center in the WIN211 network based on the area code. Each call center continues to operate independently, with its own call queues, IVR and on-hold messages changed as needed using inContact’s configuration tools. At the same time, the shared telephone system offers major backup, reporting and management benefits to the WIN211 network. All call data is recorded in a common database for system wide reporting as well as site-to-site comparisons. inContact’s dashboard provides a real-time view of 2-1-1 call activity anywhere in the state. The system’s call recording feature captures a number of calls per specialist each month for quality evaluation by individual centers as well as statewide WIN211 personnel.
For WIN211, another advantage of the inContact deployment has been the availability of easy, low-cost scalability and home agent support not easily achievable with installed phone equipment. During the busy tax and holiday seasons or when local disasters occur, WIN211 uses inContact’s ability to instantly add extra ports to field increasing call volumes and cut back when the call load shrinks.
Also, many WIN211 call centers take advantage of inContact’s ability to support work-at-home agents with a standard phone, home computer and Internet connection. The service has used this capability to solve problems like limited facility space, provide additional flexibility for experienced information and referral specialists, and prepare for emergency scenarios. With features like these, inContact is helping WIN211 respond to inquiries from callers ranging from single mothers needing food for their children to senior citizens searching for in-home care.
Edited by Allison Boccamazzo
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