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Contact centre gives merSETA 40% cost saving

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merSETA, a subsection of the Department of Labour and skills development facilitator in the engineering and manufacturing field expects to cut its telecommunications costs by 40%, thanks to a new contact centre.

The contact centre was built on Interactive Intelligence's all-in-one platform supplied by Atio.
"We have seven sites in different regions," explains Fabian Brown, merSETA's contact centre manager.  "Previously, each branch had its own switchboard system but now we have one platform for all our sites.
"Our major cost saving results from eliminating the costs of inter-branch phone calls, as well as the use of outbound dialing technology which further cuts telecoms costs."
According to Brown, the organisation also expects to see enhanced customer service, a reduction in maintenance costs and operational efficiencies as a result of the installation.
The new system accommodates over 20 contact centre agents and approx 170 back office users. Typically, a customer would call merSETA, and the agent answering the call would need to transfer the customer to someone in the back office. With the old switchboard system, the agent would have to transfer the call 'blind', not knowing whether that person was available.
"This meant that often our customers would reach a dead-end and have to call back," says Brown. "Now we are able to see the availability of the back office staff, and if the person is not available, we can offer our client some options."
Brown says that this will significantly enhance customer service. merSETA is the administrator of the skills development levy funds in the manufacturing and engineering industry.
The organisation has three categories of customers that make contact: companies that pay the skills levy; the training providers that receive funds and carryout SETA-accredited training; and individuals wanting to apply for the learnership and mentoring programmes.
Another major benefit is maintenance. "Because we are located at different sites, we had seven separate systems that required maintenance – now we only need to maintain one platform," says Brown. "While it is too early to quantify, we expect a significant saving in maintenance costs. These savings are critical, as merSETA is required to keep our operating costs under 10% of the total funds we administer."
Brown also expects to see operational efficiencies. merSETA always had multimedia contacts into the business i.e. customer could make contact via phone, fax or e-mail. Previously, each channel was managed as a silo on its own but now they are combined onto one platform which enables merSETA to track the volumes and response times.
Through workforce optimisation functionality, the system also enables merSETA to plan its capacity to accommodate quiet and busy times, resulting in operational efficiencies.