South Devon NHS Founcation Trust

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Atereo’s Operator Console delivers flexible working and consistent call handling for both VoIP and legacy telephony systems.

Like many hospitals, the Torbay switchboard operators deal with thousands of callers experiencing a wide range of emotions.

These callers need to be handled sensitively, professionally and quickly, and put through to the right person, first time.

The Torbay switchboard also handles internal emergency calls and general enquiries. 

The Problem

The replacement of its legacy telephone system with a state-of-the-art Cisco Unified Call Manager posed a number of significant challenges for the Trust.  The Trust was determined to ensure that the quality of the switchboard service was not compromised by ease-of-use issues or reliability problems.  The Trust also wanted to address the longstanding issue of providing the operators with a powerful and accurate telephone directory that would be updated automatically, avoiding the need for significant time-consuming and therefore expensive editing. 

The Solution

The Trust had already invested in an Atereo Call Logging system and now decided to take the Atereo Console and Call Handling solution as well.

The call logging system’s powerful Microsoft SQL database was extended to include all the information that the operators required, and this then became the core of the call handling solution.

The Trust also deployed Atereo’s Database Integration Service to deliver automatic directory updates and a single point of update for directory changes.

The Operators’ call handling capability was enhanced with Atereo’s extension presence, using a Cisco TAPI integration, which allows them to see if an extension is available before trying to put a call through.

The South Devon Health Informatics Service team chose a number of optional items from Atereo, including: 

  1. Voice recording for every console position, allowing Operators to record the entire call from the start, even if they are some way into the call before recognising they are dealing with an abusive or threatening caller.
  2. The Supervisor Wallboard application, displaying real-time information on Operator availability, queue length and handling times etc.
  3. Dual servers, to provide additional resilience.
  4. The addition of Hunt Group Plus has provided call queuing solutions to a number of different departments and GP Surgeries managed by the Health Informatics Service. This final option provides flexible delivery of calls to various groups of extensions with pre and in-queue messages, skills based routing, and real-time and historic management information.
The Benefits

The benefits of the Console were quickly realised by the Operators. In particular, its ease of use allowed them, with minimal training, to take advantage of its wide range of call handling features.

The combination of an up-to-date directory and extension availability information enhanced the Operators’ confidence when putting calls through and noticeably reduced the number of returned calls.

Particularly popular with the Operators is the “Speed Dial” feature, which allows calls to be put through to individuals, extensions or departments with a single click, significantly reducing call handling time.

Hunt Group Plus has allowed cost effective call queuing features to be supplied to other areas managed by the Health Informatics Service, including a flagship GP Surgery, providing improved answering services via the existing telephony.

Simon Lobb (Telecoms Manager) observes, “It isn’t so often that you find a company with such an innovative product, backed up by so many years’ experience in the industry, and with such an established customer base.

The Atereo system has proved itself an overwhelming success since deployment, in what is a very busy and demanding environment. The Voice Recording, Wallboard and Hunt Group Plus options in addition to the main system offer outstanding value for money. I am pleased to be working with Atereo.”