DAFM implement Dynamics to provide unified Customer Engagement Contact Centre
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine plays a lead role in promoting competitive and sustainable economic development in the agriculture, food, forestry and fisheries sectors, including overall responsibility for public policy and administration. The Department also has major regulatory functions, with the objective of maintaining the highest standards of food safety, consumer protection and animal and plant health. With more than 3,000 staff, the Department operates from six large centralised locations across the country, with a presence also in a further 16 regional offices and a large number of other locations countrywide. The Department has a diverse customer base which includes farmers, taxpayers, consumers, food processors and other commercial operators, those involved in sea fishing, forestry, bio-energy, research as well as diverse EU institutions, other State bodies and special interest groups.
Company: Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine had been operating two call centres to deal with external farmer queries, both using different procedures. These contact centres assisted with queries from support programmes administered under the EU Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), for which there are circa 130K beneficiaries in receipt of over €1.4 billion annually. In addition to the client themselves, their associated agents and nominated contacts may also contact DAFM. Historically, from September to end of year, approximately 10K calls per month are received by the areas managing the CAP funding.
The challenge was to provide a unified, consistent and streamlined customer service to the Department’s large and diverse customer base, whereby operators would have access to the relevant amount of information to resolve the majority of calls at the first point of contact.
In order to ensure the project addressed the needs of both the client and the Department, an examination of the existing call logging system and processes was undertaken. This work provided context, garnered a comprehensive understanding of the existing limited service and helped to align the new requirements with relevant digital strategies.
The project team carried out extensive research and sought advice from leading experts in the field of digital transformation. The team visited several large- scale contact centre facilities in the public and private sectors to identify best practice processes.
Several workshops and brainstorming exercises were then held with internal (Management Board, business areas who deal directly with clients and support business areas, e.g. ICT Division) and external stakeholders (farmers and farming agents, farming bodies and representatives’ groups, the agriculture agency community, OGP and leading public and private sector organisations in digital contact centre delivery).
To ensure internal awareness of the project and to encourage further ‘buy-in’, the team carried out ongoing awareness campaigns with all relevant stakeholders. This included presenting regularly at Management Board meetings, Divisional Management meetings and town hall events.
DAFM sought to leverage current and new technologies and to streamline internal processes to provide a unified Customer Engagement Contact Centre (CECC). This would provide a single view of the customer and allow for multi-digital channels of communication.
DAFM partnered with Codec to customise a solution to create a platform on which the DAFM CECC operates. This required ongoing cooperation between the project delivery team, external ICT contractors, internal ICT Division, CAP Scheme Divisions and the Corporate Affairs Division.
The new solution was developed by integrating Microsoft D365, Cisco Telephony and bespoke DAFM n-tier applications. This is the first integration of three major technology platforms in the Irish Civil Service, allowing clients to use their PPS number to pre- authenticate their identity. This is cross referenced against the Department’s Corporate Customer System, informs the Contact Centre Operator and pre-populates a client snapshot on the operator’s screen.
The solution allows for a multi-channel digital ticketing approach to customer service, whereby a client can contact DAFM by phone, online portal or email. All interactions are recorded to the client timeline thus supporting the holistic view of the client, in addition to providing out of hours contact options.
The application allows for the escalation and tracking of cases past the initial point of contact and provides enhanced interoperability among the CAP business areas. It also allows for real-time connectivity to operators in other locations within DAFM’s network.
In 2020, the system was enhanced to support a mobile application which allows DAFM’s field officers to view and respond to queries remotely, which allows for more staff flexibility.
Enhanced data reporting and forecasting in respect of client queries/cases also provides CAP staff and management with a better insight of customer interactions. This identifies areas for improvement in terms of digital delivery and process efficiencies.
From September 2019 when the system went live, all calls related to CAP schemes were routed through the CECC, ensuring the Department had a more comprehensive record of client interactions. This one- stop-shop approach to digital customer engagement provides efficiencies in the related business areas, resulting in an improved experience for both internal and external customers. It also allows a larger number of staff to concentrate on processing the applications rather than answering client calls.
This new unified digital solution allows the Department to offer more digital services to its diverse customer base and has strategically enabled the Department to explore more enhanced digital services as appropriate, such as Power Virtual – adaptable Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbots and full mobile app capabilities. It is expected these services will be rolled out as part of an expansion of services to the Regional Office network in DAFM.
The CECC mobile app, coupled with the advanced digital alerting systems, will ensure that all the relevant field staff can react to potential agriculture related emergencies more efficiently and effectively as the relevant data will be available instantly on their hand-held mobile devices.
The project is continually being enhanced and developed to meet the ever-expanding needs of DAFM clients.
“The benefits delivered by the Codec implementation of Dynamics 365 CRM are clear for all to see. Based on the level of professionalism shown by staff, their willingness to assist/help in achieving tasks & goals on the project and their commitment to delivering quality solutions ensure that I would have no hesitation in recommending Codec. ”
Darren Murray, Head of Digital Transformation at DAFM