Bell Mobility converges its processes

Bell Mobility is finding out that sometimes two is not better than one.

With one call centre in Montreal, one in Toronto, and one 800 number shared between both, there are many challenges to routing calls to the best location. But that’s not the first hurdle the company needs to overcome; that is language, said Jim Belluomini, manager of CTI/IVR development and support at Bell Mobility’s site in Toronto. He gave a presentation at Bell’s call centre during a recent site tour offered as part of the CTI World conference.

The company is in the process of implementing a Virtual Call Centre, the first phase of which is to be completed in mid-September. The project will encompass skills-based routing, load balancing, and enterprise routing and reporting, he said.

“All calls hit an IVR (interactive voice response) system before they enter the call centre. Customers choose there whether they want to work in English or French.”

The idea behind the Virtual Call Centre is to route all the calls through one queue, so there is no distinction between the two centres, he said. “The whole idea is to balance our TSF (telephony service factor) so that it’s the same in both call centres. Currently, because they are separate entities, one centre can have 100 per cent TSF — which is great – but the other could have 50 per cent. In the one that’s 50 per cent, the customers are waiting too long.”

Unfortunately, nothing will be implemented after September of this year because of Y2K expenses, and the current project has been delayed because of striking staff in various divisions of Bell Canada, he said.

The company first implemented a Computer Telephone Integration (CTI) system based on Genesys Labs’ applications back in 1995. That application is used to identify caller options chosen within the IVR front-end system prior to reaching the Call Centre.

Dawn Skinner, customer service workforce management business analyst at Bell Mobility, said implementing CTI meant a lot of changes in how the customer service representatives (CRS) did their jobs.

“Originally we had a phone on the desktop, but we found that buttons were of no use. Now the CSRs use the keypad on the computer instead. We tried to make the buttons look and feel similar to those on phones,” she said.

The software allows them to pre-program frequently called numbers and choose a code to identify the type of call. The system can force the CSRs to make their lines busy or it will log them out of the queue after a set time, which makes the system more efficient, she said. “Call coding is pretty handy for call managers to be able to see what is driving their calls.”

Also, managers monitoring the Call Manager system can tell the difference between a ‘forced not-ready’ code and ‘manual not-ready’ code. This means they can collect data on the status of the CSRs calls in real-time. This also gives managers the ability to force the CSRs out of the queue remotely if they forget to log out of the system at night, she said.

Errol Small, senior systems analyst at Toronto-based Shoppers Drugmart, said that although he found the CTI conference lacked the depth of technology detail he was looking for, the Bell Mobility site trip was one of the highlights for him.

“In terms of their technology, and how they want to use it, and where they see themselves going long term, I think [Bell] has a fairly robust and realistic approach to doing this thing.”