The Local Government Ombudsman Call Centre System
Cloud Contact Centre
Delivered by Foehn
The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) was established to look at complaints about councils and some other authorities and organisations, including education admissions appeal panels and adult social care providers. Run as a free service, its role is to investigate complaints in a fair and independent way without taking sides. The organisation employs around 200 staff at sites in Coventry (HQ), London and York.
Telephony challenges and drivers for change
As a publicly funded body, the LGO is continuously focused on delivering the best possible value for money and began looking at productivity and efficiency gains by moving to shared office space and by introducing flexible working through ‘hot-desking’ including the ability for employees to work from home.
To support these initiatives, the LGO’s IT infrastructure had to be flexible and resilient enough to cope, but there were some limitations, as Adrian Beaumont, LGO IT Manager, explains: “Our IT network hadn’t really come with us on the journey. It was still very set and fixed; it didn’t fully support the features that we needed from it and clearly we needed to do something different.”
The procurement process – G-Cloud and the Digital Marketplace
With a year left on its existing phone system contract with its incumbent supplier, the LGO decided that it needed to look at changing its network and search for a new supplier that could deliver what it needed. Given the time pressure to implement the changes, the LGO decided to procure a service from the Crown Commercial purchasing system.
This approach allowed the LGO to narrow its search quickly, as Adrian outlines: “We were keen to use the G-Cloud framework to procure the services, which meant that we wouldn’t have to go through a very lengthy drawn out process. On G-Cloud there were pre-qualified suppliers we could be confident were capable of delivering what we needed at a competitive price.”
The LGO initially searched the G-Cloud site to look for suppliers that could tick the boxes on the organisation’s new phone system specification. “We undertook some research on those suppliers and went from a long list to a shorter list. We then made some requests of the potential suppliers, asking them to provide more information about their businesses and the services they offered.
Having identified companies that had the capability to deliver, Adrian and his team invited them to informal meetings where they could present and speak about how their services could potentially support the changes being made by the LGO.
“Some of the things we look for in suppliers are those who can meet with us regularly, communicate with us effectively and offer the support that an organisation of our size needs. One of the things that struck me about Foehn was their ability to meet these criteria.”
Avoiding potential lock into proprietary vendor technology was another important part of the LGO’s requirement. Adrian explains: “If we needed to change our phone system supplier in the future, we didn’t want to be left with a system that was unsupportable. It was key for us that Foehn were strong advocates of using Open Source technology and had massive experience in this area.”
Once the LGO decided to proceed with the implementation of a cloud phone system, the contract was awarded to Foehn who then appointed a project manager, working closely with Adrian and his team to deliver what the LGO needed.
“I’m very pleased to say that the system was put in on time and to budget, giving us enough time to test it before we cut over from the old system to the new system,” says Adrian. When we did finally make that transition it was all very seamless and painless. We had regular project meetings and the work was completed quickly and with the minimum of fuss.”
Transformation of services and financial benefits
The solution that Foehn provided the LGO has been twofold.
“We had a new Wide Area Network implemented using resilient links to provide the reliance of the system that we needed and then on top of that a hosted PBX giving us a phone system in the cloud, explains Adrian. “The phone system not only had to support staff working out of all three offices on traditional phone handsets, it also needed to support staff working from home using softphones. This gives our employees the flexibility to work in a more agile way as they’re able to take calls from members of the public and from colleagues, and also make calls.
“We also had to support our Intake Team, which is our call centre, and that call centre takes calls from members of the public and other bodies for advice. One of the requirements for that was to have a full IVR system, call recording and a call queuing call management system. The team at Foehn was able to provide all of these to our specification.”
In terms of the financial and operational benefits to the LGO, significant cost savings and productivity and efficiency gains feature highly, as Adrian highlights:
“One of the key benefits has been the significant cost saving and overall we’re now saving at least 30% on the phone and network system costs and yet we have 50% faster network connections than with our previous supplier
“And not only are we saving with the lower cost of the system and the connections, but also in day to day things like provisioning new handsets for new members of staff, making changes quickly. We can undertake some of these ourselves, giving us far more autonomy, yet we’ve still got the Foehn helpdesk to rely on if the matter’s more complex or something outside of our control.
“Our network is far more resilient then we’ve ever had plus it’s s a lot more flexible. It’s certainly cost effective, but most importantly it underpins the changes that we’ve made to the organisation and will continue to help us improve going forward and provide the critical services that we provide.
Commenting on Foehn’s implementation and service, Adrian concludes: “For me, the mark of a good supplier is one that can take responsibility and ownership for issues and make changes quickly and communicate well, and that’s certainly the experience we’ve had with Foehn.”