Creating a cost-effective and productive organisation-wide communications infrastructure is a challenge that many South African companies find daunting, especially in light of the country's extremely high telecommunications costs.
Whether it's managing staff telephone usage patterns, instituting comprehensive reporting systems or ensuring calls are made via an optimum cost route, the range of products and services on the market can be highly confusing, and often seem to fly in the face of an efficient, optimised telephone management infrastructure.
The reality, however, is that telephone management need not be an expensive or counter-productive headache, if an organisation is able to partner with an appropriately skilled specialist. The Legally Independent People's Corporation (LIPCO) offers a prime example of what can be achieved with the right approach to the communications management.
LIPCO was created in 1993 with the aim of delivering accessible and affordable legal services to ordinary South Africans. LIPCO employs a team of attorneys and advocates who act as legal advisors and mediators in branch offices across South Africa's major centres. More than 300 000 people and small businesses are entitled to access LIPCO's benefits and services.
“Our telephone management system was very problematic. We could not get reporting at various levels of management and we could not identify or control abuse effectively,” says Rudolph Campher, chief operating office of LIPCO Group.
LIPCO also suffered from a fragmented combination of telephone management products, making it exceptionally difficult for the organisation to gain unified control over its entire telephony system. “We were not able to link all the systems together because they were different and insular,” says Campher.
Once the organisation had partnered with telephone management specialists, Multimatics, however, it was able to consolidate its system and focus on optimising its infrastructure across all branches and employees.
“Multimatics' installation of its Telesentry system created a unified solution for us that was able to deliver a completely new range of specialised reports, tailor-made for our needs at all management levels,” Campher continues. “We are now able to get reports drawn on a national basis, which means all our offices are summarised based on any number of criteria we wish to examine. We also get reports that can be used at the individual level for dealing with staff on a one-to-one basis. This was simply impossible before.
“With our new system, once a particular telephone number becomes identified as private, it stays private for subsequent months, even if that staff member transfers to another branch,” Campher adds. “This was not possible beforehand – we had to keep identifying the same number as private month after month, which was frustrating, time-consuming and counter-productive.”
LIPCO's call times and costs are now controlled effectively, thanks to an ability to monitor specific departments and individual's call usage patterns. Once Multimatics’ Telesentry system was installed, the organisation was able to utilise its call-costing and reporting facilities to refine its policy to deal effectively with excessive telephone use by staff, while still being lenient towards those remaining within budget.
“Our staff were a little confused by the system at first,” says Campher. “But Multimatics was able to provide forensic evidence which showed the reporting to be spot on, and staff could see that they were not being penalised. Within a short period of time the staff accepted the new system as it was in-line with labour laws. Now, even when staff transfer to another branch they are familiar with Telesentry and the same rules apply no matter where they move within the company. As a tool for managing staff behaviour on the phone, Telesentry has been superb.”
Previously, LIPCO’s call centre was predominantly inbound, even though the organisation does phone people from various institutions to recruit them as LIPCO members. After the installation of Telesentry, the LIPCO call centre is able to determine and control the cost of outward bound calls, resulting in a more efficient business operation.
Crucially, the Telesentry system was also quick to install and implementation was non-disruptive to daily business.
“Installation was brief and seamless, often taking fifteen minutes or less. There was never any inconvenience and no downtime with any component of our administration or network,” says Campher.
“There is also very little capital outlay. There is a monthly service fee, however – Multimatics assured us that if we were not happy we could get a full refund within the trial period. We went ahead and implemented and we were immediately very impressed. Within a short period of time we were able to reduce costs by much more than the monthly rental.”