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Knowledgebase Provides Payoff For Ratepayers

Hindin's Knowledgebase Provides Payoff For Ratepayers

March 2006, Christchurch, Hindin Communications:

A creative implementation of KnowledgeBase software from Hindin Communications has made it dramatically easier for residents of seven Councils to get their queries answered. Palmerston North City Council and Horizons Regional Council have joined forces to create a Local Government After Hours Contact Centre with the aim of improving customer service and streamlining call response.

The Contact Centre utilises KnowledgeBase to tap into the collective knowledge of the participating Councils. KnowledgeBase software, which is designed to capture and quantify business workflow and processes, allowed for the Council information to be gathered and maintained in a searchable way, so that Customer Service Agents (CSAs) could give consistent, accurate responses to customer enquiries.

Project managers chose KnowledgeBase after extensive experience with the product; PNCC has been using the software for their daytime Contact Centre for five years. The After Hours Centre, however, was first to get the benefit of the latest version, which will be deployed to PNCC over the next couple of months.

Mike Manson, Palmerston North City Council Representative, says, "Our primary requirements for the software solution were that it be adaptable, flexible, easily learned and robust enough to handle thousands of calls per month. The KnowledgeBase product has all of those attributes, and we were able to configure it to suit our processes in a matter of minutes."

In order to obtain the necessary information for the CSAs, Horizons Regional Council and Palmerston North City Council first developed a Local Government after-hours toolkit. The toolkit essentially served as a standardised information base, which each participating Council reviewed and modified as appropriate (rather than starting from scratch). It included templates for contact information, FAQs and model request for service forms.

The Contact Centre is running so smoothly that 92% of all calls answered by the CSAs are resolved at point of first contact. This type of immediate resolution exceeds customer expectations while significantly reducing burden on day staff and emergency personnel. In acknowledgment of its effectiveness, the Centre was named both the Technology Application Winner and the Overall Winner at the SOLGM NZ Post Management Excellence Awards last month and also took first place at the ALGIM Innovation awards.

KnowledgeBase also provides a great deal of flexibility for the Contact Centre. While every Council may have a requirement for, say, a noise complaint, the specific information required by each Council will be different, as will the follow-up steps. By setting a field to hold the names of each Council, one CSA can respond accurately to calls from any participating area.

"The After Hours Centre was an ideal application of KnowledgeBase software," says David Johnstone, General Manager of Hindin Communications. "We were delighted to work with Horizons and PNCC. Their ability to plan ahead and coordinate all of the diverse informational requirements allowed this project to run smoothly right from the start."

While it had already been on the drawing board, the project really got underway after the hundred year flood in the Manawatu-Wanganui region in February 2004. With hundreds of thousands of people desperately trying to get information, one Council's phone system failed while another received calls on a tape recorder.

The disaster served as a dramatic reminder of the need for a 24-hour contact centre. In the case of the flood, residents had specific emergency response questions; on a day-to-day basis, people frequently have queries outside of business hours.

This need was reconfirmed when the Contact Centre went live on 26 April 2005. Despite no advertising (part of a risk reduction strategy), the Centre took over 6,000 calls in its first month. It is also set up to quickly upsize in capacity on short notice, providing the ability to effectively respond to emergency situations.

About Hindin Communications

Hindin Communications, established in 1987, is a New Zealand owned innovator of advanced knowledge management solutions. The company has produced its flagship software product KnowledgeBase, to support Contact Centres and Service divisions within large organisations.

KnowledgeBase promotes efficient quality customer service. It avoids passing customers from department to department and typically allows 80% of all enquiries to be completely settled at the first point of call. For those items that can't be resolved immediately, KnowledgeBase measures and manages the service level from initial enquiry to resolution either by external contractors or internal service divisions. In addition, KnowledgeBase enables improved customer and stakeholder relationship management.

With KnowledgeBase, customers can realise large productivity gains in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars per annum. For further information visit www.knowledgebase.co.nz

About PNCC

Palmerston North City Council is one of New Zealand's fastest growing Provincial cities.

The Council looks after the water, sewage, stormwater, refuse & recycling collections, roading, parks and reserves, planning and regulatory activities including liquor licencing, environmental health licencing and community development, emergency services, animal control, parking enforcement and building inspections.

Palmerston North City, the windfarm capital of New Zealand, prides itself on innovation and working together with other Local Authorities to deliver maximum value to the communities each serves. Palmerston North has become a centre for call centre excellence hosting 18 call centres including one of NZ's largest centres. For more information see www.pncc.govt.nz

About Horizons

Horizons Regional Council is the regional authority over Tararua, Horowhenua, Manawatu, Palmerston North City, Rangitikei, Wanganui and Ruapehu. It also encompasses some parts of Taupo, Stratford and Waitomo Districts.

Horizons is endorsed with protecting and maintaining the environment and managing the natural and physical resources of fresh air, clean water, productive land and natural ecosystems.

Its work includes flood protection, soil conservation, transport, pest control and environmental monitoring and protection, helping to create tomorrow's environment today. For more information on Horizons go to www.horizons.govt.nz

ENDS

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