Sacramento's 311 Service Teaches a Lesson in Call Center Management
May 02, 2013
By Michelle Amodio
, TMCnet Contributor
Back in 2008, the city of Sacramento, California, hopped on board with a 311 service for its residents. Vastly different from the emergency 911 digits, 311 offers easy access to municipal services and information that would otherwise be difficult for some residents to find. What the city didn’t anticipate was the call volume that would ensure once the service was implemented. Customer hang-ups ended up accounting for 100,000 lost calls, thus rendering the service inefficient and a misuse of tax dollars.
In terms of call center management, the hang-ups are part of mismanaging call center function. What the city quickly learned is that technology is a wonderful thing, and so implementing a mobile app alleviated a lot of the long wait times and proved the service was, in fact, a useful and helpful thing for city dwellers.
The customer experience can be a confusing road to navigate. There are apps, mobile Web, voice, social media, and a host of other ways the customer can connect to a call center, whether it’s a business or a municipality. Apps seem to be the ticket, and so call centers are using them both for their customers via mobile and as part of their own call center solutions to extend their services to fulfill specific needs.
Providers like inContact offer inCloud Apps that extend popular inContact solutions. These business apps, much like mobile apps built for customers, are tools to make life easier, but within the call center. Working alongside the inContact platform, these apps provide added value on top of efficiency.
Apps like ACD Direct Text-to-Call prevent long hold times, similar to what the city of Sacramento was experiencing pre-app, allowing customers to send a text message so that a call can be initiated from the call center. Once a text is sent, customers will receive an auto reply, letting them know that their message was received and that an agent will be with them momentarily.
Apps are part of a “multi-channel” idea of customer relationship management, one that has made it more important for businesses to stay on top of the many ways in which they can interact with their consumer base. In the case of Sacramento, it was helping the people who make their city what it is.
Many companies and municipalities are moving toward cloud-based applications within their call centers to help them respond to the rapid advances in today’s market environment while simultaneously ditching many of the high costs and hassles of maintaining complex internal systems.
The benefit of minimal hardware and software costs is a plus for companies, as well. Along with no up-front capital investment, it's clear why executives and city officials are looking at apps for their call center needs.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson