Deal Allows Nonprofit Group to Automate Center

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Through a special arrangement with TruePoint Inc., Legal Services of Northern Virginia has automated its call center for the first time, adding an automatic call distributor and screen pop technology.

"Before we just had a receptionist who would see who was available, and if nobody was, calls were transferred to voice mail," said Doug Bates, operations manager for Legal Services, Falls Church, VA, a non-profit group that provides legal assistance for disabled, elderly and low-income people in civil actions. "We got a break on this because we are a non-profit agency. Otherwise we would never have been able to afford this, but cost savings was not the main purpose for the purchase."

The system used is TruePoint's Continuum. As part of the agreement reached between TruePoint, Fairfax, VA, and Legal Services, the agency will be an avenue for TruePoint to showcase Continuum, and will be featured in brochures and other marketing material. The agreement was reached when a Legal Services computer technician met a TruePoint sales representative at a local trade show in Virginia.

"They just met and they worked out a deal," Bates said. "Since we weren't using any kind of phone system before it is a good thing it happened."

Legal Services has one call center with four agents who take an average of 16 calls an hour. The system is connected to two computers that act as a server. One computer routes calls to an available agent and the other tracks call activity and how long callers have to wait in queue. The system will also capture client information and ensure accuracy by remembering statistics.

"We are just starting to use it," Bates said. "There are still a few bugs we are getting out, but it will be better then what we had. We didn't have any automation before."

The new system also allows Legal Services' call center agents to enter application information directly into the company's database. Previously, agents wrote on paper the information gathered during phone calls.

"One of the big issues they had was trying to determine what agents were available," said Dave Luvison, vice president of TruePoint. "The application process could take as long as 20 minutes."

The Continuum system guides agents through the call through prompts on the computer screens, making it easier for agents to conduct the screening process.

"It was a relatively easy installation process," said Luvison. "But not because of the size of the call center. Whether the center is big or small, there is still some troubleshooting and configuring that has to be done but a small call center could have a more sophisticated system that makes installation more difficult."

Working with Legal Services was a departure for TruePoint from its average client, which is usually a credit union, but the system is similar.

"Continuum is well suited for this type of organization," said Peter Giudici, vice president of sales for TruePoint. "It will boost the quality of their service without putting undo stress on their budget."

Since Legal Services just implemented the program, Bates could not comment on its impact."We have only had it up and running for a few hours," he said. "In a couple of weeks I'm sure it will be easier to judge how much it improves things."

Legal Services is a state agency with attorneys on staff in addition to outside attorneys who do pro-bono work. They also provide a referral service.

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