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The ASSIST-CARD operation finds in BT a partner for integrated helpline assistance right around the globe
When travellers face an emergency they want help, fast. With ASSIST-CARD they get it by phone, wherever they are. But lines from local suppliers in each country were an administrative nightmare for Sergio Piroli. A switch to BT Inbound Contact in 37 countries has made things simple, with 83 more countries lined up for connection.
Now, without multiple contracts, multiple bills, and multiple support packages to manage, Sergio and his team can put more time into customer service and business expansion. Meanwhile ASSIST-CARD clients will have the peace-of-mind of always getting through 24/7 to a friendly expert.
We have been very satisfied with the service from BT. The company has a good understanding of the challenges we face and can offer technologies which not only solve those challenges but also help us build our business.”
- Sergio Piroli, IT Director, ASSIST-CARD International
ASSIST-CARD is an emergency travel assistance service. Founded in 1972 in Geneva, it provides round-the-clock assistance to its six million clients anywhere in the world. They can call on the company for help with matters such as concierge services, accidental death, medical assistance, relay of urgent messages, or reimbursement of expenses incurred through delayed or cancelled flights. Calls are routed through a free phone number to one of 49 alarm centres worldwide.
The telephone is the backbone of the ASSIST-CARD service. If a customer is in trouble and cannot get through, the company fails in its obligation to its clients. To make sure this does not happen, backup numbers are provided in each country.
Historically, those numbers were supplied and maintained by local service providers, but this meant that ASSIST-CARD had to deal locally and individually with a large number of such companies over contracts, maintenance, and billing. While providing the resilience the company needed, it was a highly inefficient way of operating – requiring significant administrative input and management effort. In addition, there was no way of reconciling individual suppliers’ bills with traffic in the countries of origin.
As a consequence, ASSIST-CARD management looked at options for consolidating its helpline services with a single supplier. The aim was to simplify management, improve cost effectiveness, and maintain resilience and reliability. Increased efficiency and agent productivity and improved customer service were other important objectives.
“We were not looking to cut back on our phone service in any way, because it is so critical to our business,” says Sergio Piroli, IT Director at ASSIST-CARD International. “However, it was evident that the move to a single global supplier might be more efficient for us in terms of back-office support, so we were very interested in investigating the possibilities.”
ASSIST-CARD in Argentina had not worked with BT before but a proven track record in helping other global customers made BT a prime candidate to solve the company’s phone number challenge. And it happened that BT had the answer: the first-ever Latin American deployment of its Inbound Contact global service.
Used by major corporations throughout the world, BT Inbound Contact is a hosted and managed IP-based contact centre service that supports multiple channels. The back end platform provides extensive routing capabilities and treats all types of channels in the same way so that they can be centrally managed and reported on. A One Desktop interface provides a single point of access to information held within BT service and third party applications, thereby tackling the issue of application toggling.
Originally contracted to provide network terminations to Argentina and the United States from 35 originating countries for ASSIST-CARD, BT speeded up the rollout of Inbound Contact in Latin America in order to provide the service more quickly. The phone numbers provided are a combination of paid-for and toll-free lines. BT ensures resilience through the provision of several numbers per country. There is also a Traffic Reporting System for online network statistics and a Customer Traffic Design tool for real time management of call routing.
With Inbound Contact global, international toll-free callers and domestic toll-free or paying callers are routed over international or domestic public switched telephone networks to ingress nodes on the BT global voice network. From this, there is a dedicated egress node to the ASSIST-CARD Argentinean call centre and a switched egress node via PSTN to the ASSIST-CARD United States call centre.
In order to carefully monitor implementation of the system, ASSIST-CARD requested that lines be migrated country by country over a period of roughly two years. Among others, the first countries to be moved onto BT Inbound Contact included Australia, Portugal, New Zealand, Ireland, Austria, and Belgium.
All the switchovers to date have gone ahead without a hitch and ASSIST-CARD is using Inbound Contact as a foundation for geographical expansion. As well as the countries originally scheduled to move onto the new system – the number of which has gone up to 37 – BT is now also tasked with connecting 22 countries where ASSIST-CARD does not have a footprint. Ultimately, ASSIST-CARD hopes to have Inbound Contact connections to around 120 countries when the rollout finishes.
The company is already starting to enjoy benefits in terms of improved back-office efficiency, with fewer resources needed to process telephony supplier bills and issues, and greater management control thanks to the BT traffic reporting tools. This translates to greater cost effectiveness, and ease of management and efficiency. It also allows the company to dedicate more resources to improving customer service.
The relationship between the two companies has developed to the point where ASSIST-CARD is now also considering BT for other projects, such as a regional BT IP Connect multi-protocol label switching network and a BT MobileXpress roaming service for customers, being developed in conjunction with the ASSIST-CARD marketing department.
“We have been very satisfied with the service from BT,” concludes Sergio Piroli. “The company has a good understanding of the challenges we face and offers technologies that not only solve those challenges but also help us build our business.”
- BT Inbound Contact global
- BT Traffic Reporting System
- BT Customer Traffic Design tool