Govt Remote Working Hero

COVID-19 has been one of the most disruptive crises to impact businesses, society and the wider economy in a long time. However, for many organisations, the consequences of coronavirus has brought forward up to two years of technological change in a matter of weeks. This is certainly the case for The City of Edinburgh Council in the UK.

Business as usual

Within days of the government's announcement that home-working was to be the new normal, a team of 60 contact center agents from the council's 160-strong team were efficiently running operations from home. In June, they added another 20 contact center agents on Mitel phones, totaling 80 agents working remotely. They initially handled hundreds of calls per day for key front-line services using their mobile phones and laptops, with incoming calls covering social care, repair emergencies, benefits and council tax inquiries. The team was also managing incoming emails for the property help desk, waste services and social care.

Lisa Hastie, Customer Contact Manager at The City of Edinburgh Council, recalls how it was a challenging undertaking to keep essential lines live, continuing to help those in need in the city, while ensuring employees were also kept safe at home. But the multi-skilled contact center staff rose to the challenge.

The council's contact center team was able to fully use Mitel's contact center technology, which ensures that employees can switch between office-based and remote environments without disruption to communication channels.

The amazing team effort and fantastic camaraderie across all customer and digital services contributed greatly to the success. The agents are comfortable with the Mitel technology, with many requesting cordless headsets. They can still access all the features and functionality as if they were in the offices such as IVR, email, voicemail, call recording and call tracing. Initially, employees only had mobile phones, which meant calls could not be forwarded and hunt groups weren't possible.

Tangible results

The Mitel-powered desktop and telephony system usually averages 70,000 inbound calls and 30,000 outbound calls per month. Even with all agents based at home, they have been able to maintain a consistently high level of service to help Edinburgh's citizens, as the call data provided to the Scottish government has testified.

In April, there were 35,317 inbound calls from 36 core/critical lines, with all green SLA levels. By May there were 32,400 inbound calls from 36 core/critical lines and the contact center maintained all green SLA levels.

At the end of April, The City of Edinburgh Council added two new lines as part of the National helpline for COVID-19 services: "Shielding" and "Vulnerable" lines, for those who need help and support during these challenging times. Mitel technology enabled these calls to be routed to internal specialist services if required, such as the health and social care departments or the welfare team.

Recovery and adaptation

The pandemic has given us all food for thought about how and if we will return to our previous "normal" working patterns. COVID-19 has heralded a shift away from the office environment and many organizations are looking to continue a more flexible working life.

In the case of The City of Edinburgh Council, remote working has been hugely successful. Pre-lockdown, the council employed over 2,000 staff at their city center headquarters, Waverley Court. Remote working during the past few months has shown that not all roles need to be 100% office-based and many can be fulfilled remotely. It's also a great benefit for staff to continue to have the opportunity and choice to work from home.

When The City of Edinburgh Council upgrades its MiContact Center technology in the next year, they will quickly and easily be able to implement web chat and chatbots, which will help to further enhance the citizen experience.

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