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Issue Date: June 2002

Calling the competitive shots

June 2002

Call centres are big business. All types of companies use their services to give customers a quick method of obtaining information or assistance. But running a call centre is also a tough business.

Whether a caller rings the emergency services, a breakdown company or a banking information line, they demand a rapid response at any time of the day or night. For providers of call centres such as Care Assist, how well it can meet the needs of the callers has become a vital competitive differentiator.
The business challenge
To remain at the forefront of its industry, Care Assist must create and maintain the highest possible levels of service. If someone is under threat, then responding quickly and accurately to a call can literally be a matter of life or death. Although other services may not be so dramatic, in a world where the customer is always right a similarly urgent approach is required.
According to Alta Cornelissen, manager Care Assist Call Centre, responding quickly and effectively to calls is the lifeblood of Care Assist's business. "In any 24-hour help line call centre, superior customer service is essential. It is, quite simply, the only way we can maintain a leading position."
Until recently, Care Assist had to search manually on a map to locate the position of the caller, perhaps by looking up a suburb, and work with the caller to pinpoint their precise location. Only then could they find a local service provider, help the caller work out the best route or provide whatever was required. It was a slow process and often meant relying very heavily on the local knowledge of call centre operatives, which for places such as Cape Town and Johannesburg, was often a tough call.
The MapInfo solution
To ensure its call centres can maintain the highest possible levels of service, Care Assist uses a solution delivered by MapInfo Premier Partner in southern Africa, Spatial Technologies. The location-based solution brings together geographic data from The Knowledge Factory with core MapInfo spatial technology. This is then integrated with Care Assist's own textual application, GoldMine.
This enables call centres operatives to input the caller's data and visualise their precise location quickly by using a postcode or doing a search based on landmarks. Once positioned, a search is undertaken for - in the case of, say, a breakdown - a mechanic in the vicinity. With this established, a route is automatically plotted, complete with text directions. In the event of a request for physical assistance, the operative can therefore ensure that the service provider is given the most accurate instructions. This is an element of functionality that has also become invaluable for Care Assist's information lines.
"The whole process is speeded up because the information is literally at the call centre's staff's fingertips," says Cornelissen. "All of the functions are available without the need to move between applications so that the whole process runs as smoothly as possible. That translates to a faster response, not least because the atmosphere in the call centre is a lot more professional."
The benefits for Care Assist
Like any call centre provider, Care Assist's success is measured by how well it can meet its Service Level Agreements. These specify that calls must be answered within a few minutes and the relevant service provider must be on the scene within 35 minutes. By anyone's standard's these are stringent targets. Yet, with accurate information available to it, Care Assist can offer and, crucially, maintain them. "Far and away the greatest benefit this solution has brought to us is the fact that we can guarantee our customer's call centres have the most competitive Service Level Agreements," says Cornelissen.
Furthermore, the fact that all information is recorded automatically means that the company uses it to analyse their calls within a geographical context. Simple information such as where a high rate of breakdowns or medical incidents have occurred can help Care Assist to ensure that they have the right resources available in those areas and, of course, improve their service levels even more.
"Since the introduction of the MapInfo solution, we have been able to offer our existing customers a dramatic improvement in our services," says Cornelissen. "That is great news for fostering loyalty. And, we are also able to attract many new customers through demonstrations to potential customers of just how we use this solution to respond to calls. The solution has given us a differentiator which has proved to be a very impressive revenue generator."
MapInfo software and data used
MapInfo MapX(r)
3rd Party Routing Software
Customer profile
Care Assist delivers call centre services for a variety of organisations including emergency services, breakdown and insurance companies. It also supports a range of 24-hour information lines delivering health, household and legal services. Care Assist responds to the queries of over 2 million callers a year.
Care Assist - Call Centre - Retail Finance - Roadside Assistance
Spatial Technologies
011 807 3807

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