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November 16, 2009

Hornsby Shire Council Deploys IP Phone System from Interactive Intelligence

By Patrick Barnard, Senior Web Editor, TMCnet


The Hornsby Shire Council, which oversees Hornsby Shire, a large Local Government Area in the Northern region of Sydney, Australia, has reportedly deployed Interactive Intelligence’s (News - Alert) Customer Interaction Center (CIC) unified communications platform to improve its operations.

Systems integrator PABX Advisory Services Pty Ltd carried out the project, in conjunction with Hornsby Shire Council, after it won the contract in a public bidding process.

According to a press release, the CIC suite was deployed on a hosted basis. The system is being hosted by Optus and maintained by Interactive Intelligence Elite partner CallTime Solutions. Implementation began in July and was completed in early September.

The project involved the replacement of three legacy PBXs at three separate sites and the consolidation of another 17 locations onto a single IP phone system.

The IP phone system connects the Council’s main offices with the work depots, libraries, childcare centers, aquatics centers, sports center and other remote sites it oversees. The result is drastically reduced telecommunications costs, improved customer service and increased employee productivity. In addition, the IP phone system’s Web-based administration means the Council now has greater control over the way communications are used across its 20 locations.

In particular the Hornsby Shire Council is benefitting greatly from the IP phone system’s advanced call routing capabilities. The system sports an IVR with advanced speech recognition and an intelligent ACD that accurately and automatically “steers” callers to the appropriate department or official. Prior to this the Council was using a live receptionist to route all calls.

As a result, the Hornsby Shire Council has been able to deliver faster customer service and reduce call abandonment.

“One of the main reasons we looked at Interactive Intelligence was because their design is completely computer software based and able to seamlessly offer integrated telephony and computer applications,” said Craig Munns, manager of information systems, Hornsby Shire Council, in a release. “We saw this as important because it was able to provide us with a stable telephony platform which the Council could develop based on future business needs. The end result is that we've extended our communication capabilities to an additional 17 sites and made it much easier for ratepayers and the community to contact the Council."

Because the CIC software is hosted in a secure data center, this means the Council has gained a fully-redundant IP phone system that ensures business continuity in the event of a local outage or some other disaster. Should the power go out, or the network fail, at one of the Council’s locations, calls and other communications to that location can failover to any of the other 19 sites.
 
"The beauty of the Interactive Intelligence architecture is that it offers the potential for better service to Hornsby Shire Council ratepayers and its community by keeping Council up to date with the modern communications which would be expected,” Munns said. “Also, we can see the potential to expand, and use existing capabilities including call centre operations, staff presence/availability, working from home, integration with office and mail applications, and also with Council's corporate systems and other core databases.”

In related news Interactive Intelligence today introduced Interaction SIP Station, a simple VoIP network end device that contact center agents plug their headsets into, yet which delivers full telephony features and functionality by way of the PC desktop. The company is positioning the device, which works with its CIC platform, as “an affordable, reliable and simple alternative to IP desk phones.” It’s also an alternative to softphones, which are less reliable and tend to be harder to use.

The 4.5 in. x 4.5 in. x 1.5 in. device, which has no hand set, display, or dial pad, works in conjunction with Interactive Intelligence’s Interaction Client, a PC-based call control software application offering call recording, call rules, conferencing, presence management, company directory look-up, queue monitoring, call history and other features.

The device, which uses power over Ethernet, sports just a few basic physical buttons -- pick-up/disconnect, mute, volume control, emergency speed dial -- and a multi-function status LED. Interactive Intelligence claims it costs about half as much as a typical IP phone -- and a fraction the cost of a high-end multimedia phone -- thus organizations will be interested in this approach to lowering their overall hardware costs.

Patrick Barnard is a senior Web editor for TMCnet, covering call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT, M2M, OCS and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard




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