Case Study: West Lancashire Borough Council
The Challenge: Real-Time Appointment Booking with Multiple Contractors
In February 2012 WLBC awarded a new repairs contracts to begin in April 2012 with DLP Services Ltd and JC Construction Ltd. As part of their ongoing service improvement, a core requirement of the new contracts was for the council's call centre staff to be able to book real–time appointments into the contractors dynamic scheduling system from within their existing Northgate front office system.
The key challenges were:
- Tight deadlines - from contract award in February, to go live on April 1st, 2012
- Links between Northgate CRM, Aareon QL, MARKUS® AMS
- Multiple contractors' diaries integrated seamlessly together
Solution: appointment booking portal with SOAP Web Services
Working closely with the council's own IT providers, BT One Connect Ltd, Epix Systems worked on a solution to deliver systems to both contractors for appointment integration by April 1st.
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Combined Contractor Appointment Portal
The system features a single combined diary to share scheduling information from all the contractors. This includes real-time appointment availability for all engineers who match the criteria of the jobs being appointed.
The graphical view of availability includes a summary of workload, proximity and a list of jobs already allocated to an engineer to allow the customer services team to allocate appointments to suit both the resident and the contractors.
SOAP Integration with Existing Systems
The solution comprises two-way data exchange between MARKUS® AMS and a custom web services solution developed by BT One Connect Ltd.
The web services manage all the data interaction between the appointment portal and the rest of WLBC's disparate systems and includes links to Aareon QL to access all jobs created via Northgate CRM and other back office processes.
Real-time Data Exchange
Tight integration and direct access to both contractor systems are used to provide real-time information into the portal.
The web service is used to immediately update new job details and appointments booked back to Northgate CRM so the customers services team have instant access to the information in their own systems.
Tight Integration with Existing UI
Links were embedded within Northgate CRM to seamlessly launch the portal within the customers service workflow, and to hold the call processing until the receipt of a successful appointment.
The user interface of the portal was kept small and simple to minimise the training requirements for the contact centre staff.
Continuous Development and Improvement
Whilst appointment booking at the point of taking the resident's call was the highest priority the solution has been extended to cover back office appointment booking, re-appointments, and enquiries.
Future expansion includes extending the portal to cover other specialist contractors so all works can be appointed.
Result: smooth appointment booking from contact centre to contractor
The integration of appointment booking within the fault reporting work flow has enabled a reduction in telephone calls, an improvement in the no access rates of both contractors, and is expected to show an improvement in resident satisfaction.
When a call is received from the resident the contact centre team walk through a series of diagnostic screens using Northgate Repair Finder which produces a basket of repairs. This basket is interfaced across to the Epix appointments portal via a web services call to a bespoke back–office database developed by One Connect Ltd. Once the appointments have been made, they are interfaced back via another web services call to Northgate CRM. Final job information, including the appointment details, is interfaced across to WLBC's repair management Aareon QL system, and the final client order number is interfaced across to the contractor's MARKUS® AMS repairs system.
A month after going live with the portal one of DLP's users commented:
At first we were scared that the client would be booking appointments directly, but it's turned out to be fantastic and is working really well.
One of the biggest challenges of this project was bringing together three completely independent systems and displaying the appointment information in an intuitive and simple manner to deliver the maximum benefit to the resident. With close cooperation between Epix Systems, One Connect, and end users at both contractors and WLBC this has been achieved.
Both DLP Services Ltd and JC Construction Ltd are using the full MARKUS® Asset Management System including mobile working, job control, engineer management, and sales order processing, to manage the full life–cycle of repairs requests and voids.