New comms supports debt counselling service

The initial roll-out was simplified due to the plug-and-play capability enabled by ShoreTel's distributed voice architecture and completed late in 2010. This was helped, Paterson said, by the work he and his team had carried out with Astro the previous year to update the charity's underlying network infrastructure. But the addition of the ShoreTel advanced redundancy features also helped to increase the reliability and uptime of CCCS's contact centres.

When people are worried about debt it is important for us to make the process of getting advice as quickly and easy as possible.

"The initial system configuration was carried out by ShoreTel," added Paterson. "But then a couple of our team went for training and our third-party supplier provides ongoing support. Since the initial roll out, we've spent time getting to grips with the system's additional functionality, should we need it, like call back requests online, that can help us maximise the use of features that fit with our work."


Paterson said the charity completed the addition of the new UC and contact centre systems to that last of its sites last September. As well handling additional growth in the organisation and its call volumes, the charity has been able to streamline the delivery of its counselling services and so improve the work it does to help people experiencing financial difficulties. This included, according to Paterson, the ability for call agents to resolve calls without having to call the person back.

"When people are worried about debt it is important for us to make the process of getting advice as quickly and easy as possible," he said. "Before, a helpline advisor would make an initial assessment, then arrange for a counsellor to call the person back. We wanted to offer the service end-to-end, if a counsellor was free. Now the advisor can speak to the counsellor before handing the call over, passing them the caller's details, so the person doesn't have to go through them again." As a result, CCCS now transfers 45 per cent of its helpline calls straight to its counsellors, exceeding initial targets for the ShoreTel deployment.

Paterson said the UC and contact centre overhaul has also given CCCS a consistent interface from both an IT and management point of view. "If staff move between sites or areas they have a consistent experience," he said. "It was important for us that our use if of the systems could grow." Staff need only be trained to use the two and appreciate their extra functionality like call history, which enable them to handle greater call volumes.

"To add a new user or group takes a couple of clicks and you're done," he added. "We don't have to re-patch phones for desk moves. And the reduced call volumes into the service desk means we can spend time introducing new features and functionality, not just maintaining the systems."

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.