The Automobile Association of South Africa (AA SA) faced mounting costs from a legacy communications system, in addition to requiring an omni-channel solution that enabled easy integration into existing communication channels. Itec developed an easy-to-implement and cost effective solution using the Mitel communications system.
AA SA mandated Itec to transform their existing legacy communications contact centre into a digital omni-channel system that integrated easily into existing technology, was scalable, and included full disaster recovery options.
AA SA has been around since 1930, as an advocate for road users, and a roadside assistance service provider. They engage with governmental institutions around road safety, as well as providing a service for road users that includes roadside assistance, insurance, technical service and trade services. They offer this service around the clock through agents who provide assistance to drivers.
AA SA prides itself on the human element of its service – in an emergency, having a reassuring, competent agent on the other end of the call is imperative to a smooth resolution of any problems, especially where safety is concerned. Also imperative is the quick response time in emergencies so that drivers in high-risk situations are never left in a vulnerable position for longer than is absolutely necessary.
This almost 100-year-old organisation has the same service ethos as when it began, but it was time to update the way the service was implemented, by looking at a more cost-effective and efficient communications system.
A legacy moves on
Jaco Van der Merwe, General Manager of IT at AA SA, was tasked with improving customer engagement by transforming their legacy contact centre to a digital enterprise system that made full use of the communications technology now available.
The existing contact centre was clumsy and becoming less effective with time, requiring expensive hardware updates. Van der Merwe established that the way forward was digital transformation, with the ability to integrate into an omni-channel environment, thereby giving AA SA agents more flexibility and mobility when responding to calls. This included multimedia capabilities, outbound dialling and effective workforce management.
With business growth in mind, another requirement was the ability to scale the platform across all functionalities, in a cost-effective and tech- savvy manner. Full digital disaster recovery was another important consideration in an organisation that requires 24/7 uptime, with client safety at risk during service interruptions.
Itec worked with AA SA to develop a Mitel communications solution that virtualised their existing business processes, integrating their mobile app with multiple channels including voice calls, SMS and other forms of communication.
Van der Merwe was particularly impressed by the well-defined APIs provided by Itec, that enabled a smooth transition and set-up when integrating the AA SA app into the Mitel communications platform. He also commented that the platform itself was easy to understand and operate.
The solution enabled full portability from the legacy to digital systems, with the added benefits of full disaster recovery options, secure connectivity and easily-integrated new diallers.
In an agent-based operation, workforce management is imperative, and the Mitel system is one of the few that has it as a native component, which makes it both cost-effective and easier to integrate. Van der Merwe noted that they are already seeing the benefits of a properly managed workforce.
With the consideration of mandatory uptime, Itec worked closely with the AA SA team to ensure a smooth transition between platforms. There was a good synergy between the teams, and the agents adapted easily to the new system
Key factors and future
The future for AA SA’s communication strategy is about customer service. The main focus will be to increase agent reaction speed, with the goal of a mere 20 seconds between notification of emergency and the agent’s call. This will enhance the reassurance the customer receives during a breakdown or accident.
The call centre is a key focus, streamlining the functionality and making it work most efficiently on a practical level. They are also looking at using AI and bots for initial data capture, to streamline and speed up the entire engagement with the customer.
AA SA wants to engage with its customers based on their needs, customising the user experience to include a wider range of channels, such as WhatsApp or social media. They want to take full advantage of the omni-channel environment, scaling it deep and wide, by rolling out to a higher number of both agents and customers.
Van der Merwe noted that they have seen a five-figure reduction in cost per annum compared to their previous solution, which is an obvious excellent ROI. The Itec rental model, in this case, included no escalation, so the AA SA can accurately budget for the next four years, giving them the ability to scale the solution as their business grows.
Another benefit is the reliable service provided by Itec, which in the 24/7 environment of emergency response, allows AA SA to provide excellent service in turn. This includes up-to-date technical maintenance of the Mitel products, at a much lower cost than before.
With a platform that doesn’t have technical limitations, AA SA can cost-effectively take their business to the next level, improving their already excellent customer service, by partnering with Itec as a value-adding supplier.