So today (30th June 2017) we are celebrating 80 years of the “999” service. First introduced in 1937, after a fire in a doctor’s surgery tragically took the lives of five women, the 999 service has played the single most important part in saving many lives. In any emergency situation speed is of the essence. Lives depend on somebody raising the alarm and help being called for with as little delay as possible. Back in 1937 there was no way for the operator to identify an emergency call amongst the thousands of routine enquiries. The simple answer was to set up an easy to remember dedicated number that would be prioritised over all other traffic and easy for the operator to identify. “999” was born and has been with us ever since.
This could well be the first ever example of traffic prioritisation techniques in a contact centre. Technology has moved ever forward and improved upon this simple, but effective, method. We can now prioritise calls based on the number they dial and route the caller to specific groups of agents based on the number they are calling from. We have skills based routing which allows the caller to be put through to the agents most relevant to their enquiry. We have voice recognition software to provide a more human interaction. We can do so much more with the technology at our disposal, and we will be able to do so much more as it continually improves.
Contact centres are no longer just about answering volumes of calls. It’s moved on, improved, and at the centre of all of this improvement sits one thing. Customer Experience. In the way that callers of 999 require immediate and relevant assistance, business callers require the same. Technology now makes it possible to create intelligent contact centres to enable businesses to provide their customers the best possible experience when trying to communicate with them, whether that is through voice, web chat, email or social media.
A contact centre solution, big or small, can make your communications infrastructure more meaningful, more relevant to your needs and more beneficial to your customer’s experience.
Finally, as we celebrate 80 years of the “999” service, here’s a selection of interesting calls received by Devon and Cornwall Police in 2009.
- ”The Chinese takeaway I ordered is 45 minutes late. I want you to prosecute the takeaway for ripping me off.”
- ”My power has gone off. Will my Sarah Lee gateau defrost in the freezer if I keep the door shut and how long would it take?”
- ”Can one of your officers come around to my house to tell my sons to calm down?”
- ”I can see a really rare bird sitting on top of a telegraph pole – who shall I ring?”
- ”There’s been a pigeon in my back garden for the past three days – it’s got a tag on.”
- ”I have lost my shoplifting ticket I was given when I was arrested last week.”
- A woman dialled 999 after waking up with her duvet covering her head and panicking.