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Faced with a failing system, circa 50 helpline numbers and not enough staff to field calls, Ian Whitelaw had to come up with an innovative idea to transform the Council’s telephony set up.

Thanks to his research, the hard work of his team, the Council IT department, and James Mathieson – Improvement Analyst, the Next Generation Contact Centre (NGCC) is now live - and getting results!

But how did the team turn an initial idea into a successful Council of the Future project? Here Ian provides some insight:

“We were facing a huge business continuity issue because our old telephony system was failing and customers were complaining because they couldn’t get through. We needed to be proactive because we provide an essential service to those in need. We aren’t just fielding calls for repair delays or missed bins; we are the contact point for essential services such as MECS, so people’s lives would be at risk if the system failed.

“We knew the telephone tender was up for renewal in 2016. At the same time it became apparent that the Council needed to find significant savings. Research highlighted that a Next Generation Contact Centre would be exactly what we needed - intelligent enough to route calls based on need and provide others with a way to self-serve.

“One of the main hurdles was cloud based technology which was alien to us all, and we had to learn how to write code to make it work. ICT also had to look at the network infrastructure. It had to be improved to allow Voice Over Internet Protocol calls so calls would be transmitted over a digital network rather than a copper line. This was a significant achievement for ICT and they should be congratulated for making it happen.

“What I’ve learnt as a project manager is the ‘just do it’ attitude goes a long way – no fear, and keep pushing till you get it right for the customer. My advice to anyone with a project idea is put your idea on paper, talk about it, share it with anyone who will listen, and listen to their feedback to improve it. We all have different skillsets and can learn from each other and collaborative working can bring real benefits.

“The NGCC team should be very proud of themselves, they are helping Falkirk Council radically improve service delivery to its community. The technology is the tool to help us do our job but it’s the people who make the difference.”