Origin Energy creates virtual contact team to improve customer support

Agents are multi-skilled and work across states

Oil and gas company, Origin Energy, has overhauled its contact centre operations across Melbourne and Adelaide and created one virtual team of 80 agents.

The company employs 3000 staff with around 400 working as agents at its contact centres in Adelaide and Melbourne.

Together, the centres handle about three million calls annually from South Australia, Victoria, NSW and Queensland.

To meet the demands of providing energy to three million homes, Origin Energy set out to reduce call waiting times, improve operating efficiencies and standardise processes across the Adelaide and Melbourne contact centres.

To create a single virtual team, agents had to be multi-skilled in handling both gas and electricity accounts from both states.

Origin Energy's contact centre solutions manager, Trish Campbell, said the first goal was to create one team that could handle calls regardless of where the agent or customer was located.

"But we still wanted to ensure we provided consistency of operations in our customer service. This included cradle to the grave reporting enabling us to see a customer interaction from the moment it was logged onto the system to when it was completed," she said.

To do this Origin Energy upgraded its Avaya PABX call centre solution with the Comms Manager 3 platform for virtualized queues.

The platform can effectively scale from less than 100 users to as many as 36,000 on a single system and to more than one million users on a single network.

The energy provider selected Sirius Technologies which was recently acquired by GlobalConnect to deploy the solution.

The new system provides for redundancy and disaster recovery enabling the Melbourne group to automatically take on calls coming in from South Australia should the Adelaide contact centre have an outage.

Another benefit is that maintenance on the telephony infrastructure is reduced as there is only one system to maintain and not two separate infrastructures, creating cost savings in the actual equipment itself.

"Our reporting also suggests benefits in economies of scale," Campbell added.

But there was still more work to do after Origin Energy acquired Sun Retail in Queensland, adding 880,000 customers to its network.

"We can exploit the platform's scalability features to handle this growth. In addition, we're also looking at how a virtual contact centre might enable us to provide agents with the option to work from home if they want to have this flexibility," she said.

Headquartered in Sydney and with offices in Melbourne and Adelaide, GlobalConnect Australia Pty Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Avaya GlobalConnect Ltd.

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