Touchbase networks RACQ with Avaya

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Networking vendor Touchbase has begun overhauling three contact centres for the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) in a five-year $4.7 million deal that could be one of the largest such refits in Australia.

Touchbase will install Avaya contact centre technologies and provide associated support for three pivotal Brisbane RACQ sites – two call centres and one technical services location – totaling 1,000 users. In time, the network may serve all RACQ's one million members.

Peter Murray, business development director at Touchbase, said RACQ runs one of the largest contact centre operations in Australia.

The overhaul will also be one of the most complex Touchbase has ever done, involving voice, email, fax, and web interaction management using multiple peripherals and providing around-the-clock support over an IP network.

“It's not bleeding edge but it is leading edge,” he said. “We [Touchbase] certainly don't have anything much bigger than this and we have a lot of very large call centres.”

Flowing voice and data via Avaya IP throughout rather than using time division multiplexing of data streams had already sparked interested enquiries from other companies in Australia, India and Singapore.

“We don't believe that's happened before ... We have lots and lots of references coming out of this,” Murray said.

Bruce Rice, GM of shared services at RACQ, said Touchbase replaced the initial winner of the tender when the incumbent failed to fulfill terms. “We selected [another] vendor who did not complete to our satisfaction. Touchbase was initially our second choice in terms of technology and bang for buck,” he said.

Rice said only time would tell whether the new system would save RACQ money but it would provide “obvious” gains in the quality and speed of customer service and call management.

“I certainly think that this integration will give us great benefits in terms of efficiency of the interface and make the call centre appear more knowledgeable [about customers],” he said.

Avaya “screen-popping” meant a member's history and specific details, including location, could be instantaneously brought up on screen by a contact centre operator, no matter where the agent was based.

Calls could also be automatically routed to the most appropriate agent and location, he said.

Rice said RACQ handles about five million calls via its contact centres each year, “about 1.3 million” of which are road service calls. The three sites represent about 90 percent of RACQ's telephone calls.

All overflow calls are routed via Brisbane. RACQ expects to connect its Gold Coast branch and Toowoomba office to Brisbane by year-end.

Previously, RACQ had been running an outdated and “run-down” Fujitsu system for some years. “Fujitsu decided it wouldn't do any further work with that product range in the Australian environment so that was really the last straw to push us off it,” Rice said. “It was clearly under-functional.”

Touchbase designed, implemented and will support installation of Avaya MultiVantage call processing software, Avaya Interaction Centre and Avaya Predictive Dialing System automating outbound dialling, two Avaya S8700 Media Servers, one Avaya S8100 Media Server and Virtual Routing to balance call loads and distribute incoming calls over the three sites.

Operators using IP telephony will link to the new technology at the main three sites, so RACQ won't have to install entire systems at each site. Call centre agents will also be able to work from home.

“RACQ will also gain web chat and email interaction for customers. Being able to network agents in from their homes via IP telephony is also a big advantage,” said Sunny Rao, general manager of enterprise solutions at Avaya South Pacific. “As is the ability to monitor all sites from one location using Avaya Interaction Centre, whether they operate via IP or traditional telephony.”

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