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Budget Direct unifies call centres

Budget Direct unifies call centres

Upgrades digital telephony, realises business continuity benefits

Insurance firm, Auto & General Insurance (A&G), is probably best recognised for its Budget Direct brand, but the organisation also provides insurance for several partners. It is an element of the business that continues to grow and A&G’s director of information technology, Paul Malt, wanted to ensure the company’s telephony system could support business growth.

The company has more than 650 employees and the opening of a second call centre on the northern side of Brisbane provided the impetus to upgrade its existing digital telephony infrastructure to a full IP solution. The company engaged the NSC Group for the Avaya computer telephony integration.

“It has been a process that we have gone through over the last two or three years to take us from a traditional telephony environment through to where we are now,” Malt said. “We have taken it fairly slowly and cautiously, making sure we could realise the benefits as we went along, rather than going with a big bang and hoping it worked.

“When you implement this sort of project you really are changing a lot of things across the business — there is an impact on business processes, an impact on systems — and there’s an impact on our people. So we do have to take things at the right pace and make sure that everybody is tied into the process.”

Read the full interview with Paul Malt.

Business continuity was also a high priority, and a key reason for the second call centre. A&G was running its existing call centre on two floors, each survivable from the other.

“We wanted to extend that to a second call centre and to apply the same sort of rules,” Malt said.

The NSC solution includes Avaya 8700 series server technology, Avaya Enterprise Survivable Servers and Verint voice recording system, and the new site includes a main switch and duplicate synchronised equipment in other offices.

“It provided us a lot of benefits around handling that sort of disaster recovery situation — what would happen, how it would failover and how resilient it was along the way — and from that perspective ,we were very happy with the outcome," Malt said. "We have had a couple of minor issues that have meant we have briefly gone into the failover situation and the good part is that often the business units don’t know that anything has gone wrong. They don’t know that a network link has gone down – it just seamlessly transitions to another server and continues on.

“We sell something that is quite intangible – it is only when somebody needs to make a claim that they realise the benefit from insurance, so we need to make sure that, regardless of what happens, we are there to give them that benefit at the end of the day.”

The new system allowed the A&G to respond quickly to claims from the Melbourne and Perth hail storms. Staff were on the ground and operational “with a full suite of telephony and technology services to start assessing people’s homes and cars,” Malt said, thanks to tight integration with the organisation’s back-end systems.

“For us, it is not a telephony system, as such,” he said. “We have really gone the way of tying everything completely into our back-end systems and back into the business process. It’s not just a case of ‘here’s a telephone on your desk’.”

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Tags telephonyinsuranceA&GAuto & General Insurance (A&G)businessPaul Malt

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