Technology and justice unite to give people better access to services.

Most of us don’t spend much time thinking about how technology impacts daily life. It’s become so ingrained in everything we do, we take it for granted – until it gives us a problem. These days, when something doesn’t work the way it should, it can almost always be traced back to a broken piece of technology somewhere. Nowhere is that more evident than in unified communications.

Ignite Collaboration Services Group (Ignite) CEO, Steven Taylor, says a robust technology solution requires a multifaceted approach and an eye on customer experience.

“As an advanced solutions architect for Cisco in the collaboration space, we bring together all the technical capabilities to understand the products,” Taylor says. “Then we take them and design them, implement them for a customer at the satisfaction level that they are looking for.”

“We’ve saved 312 days of on-hold time. That’s nearly a year of on-hold time for our clients. More than that, each call is a lot more efficient. Call Center staff don’t have to deal with frustrated clients, and they can get to the heart of the matter. And important to me, the service helps Legal Aid Alberta achieve its vision where everyone is able to understand and protect their legal rights.”

John Panusa, President & CEO of Legal Aid Alberta

Everyone knows the frustration of navigating a poorly designed telephone system. You desperately press ‘0’ hoping to reach an actual human, only to sit on hold for what can feel like an eternity. Now, imagine going through one of the worst times in your life. You are struggling financially. Maybe you’re even  experiencing some health issues. Sitting on hold waiting for help is the last thing you need.

Legal Aid Alberta (LAA) provides legal services to clients in support of fairness in Alberta’s justice system – services that help ensure Albertans in all circumstances understand

and are able to defend their legal rights. Many of these clients are vulnerable, and the phone is their lifeline for legal support.

“Clients contact us by phone primarily, and we get a lot of calls. That creates various volumes and our wait times can vary significantly during the day and even minute by minute,” says John Panusa, LAA President and CEO.

The LAA call center receives more than 200,000 calls per year, including clients who have questions or need to apply for assistance, as well as judges, lawyers and other connections.

High call volumes are common, and wait times have been known to reach two to three hours. Until now.

Running on Cisco’s Unified Contact Center Express (CCX), the answer was simple yet effective – a feature with potential that just needed to be unlocked. Automated callback.

“Callback functionality has been a longstanding request from staff and from clients. In the first three months since it’s been implemented, we have saved the equivalent of 312 days of on-hold time,” says Panusa.

LAA partnered with Ignite to assess and review its unified communication system. The sole purpose was to investigate solutions to improve wait times so LAA could deliver same-day service to its clients and ease the stress and frustrations being felt on both ends of the line.

“Our calls have been much more efficient, and our staff morale has improved tremendously,” he says.

From Ignite’s perspective, LAA had all the building blocks. The pieces just needed to be reorganized for maximum performance.

“We looked at their existing contact center and existing phone system,” says Taylor.

“We were able to upgrade those technologies and wrap them around a solution that could actually benefit their employees, as well as their customers,” he says.

For Ignite, it’s really about serving people, and it all comes back to experience.

“We’re really very much an experience company, so we try to think beyond technology. The best way for us to do that was through a full assessment of LAA’s technology and business processes in terms of interaction with clients,” Taylor says.

“We wanted to understand the delays and the issues they were already having so we could reorganize and be able to deliver something that’s going to address their clients in a much more timely fashion.”

And LAA couldn’t be happier. Growing from their work together, Panusa invited Ignite and Cisco to participate alongside LAA in the 2020 Legal Aid Summit, a conference on best practices and innovation in providing access to justice across Canada. Panusa says callback functionality has made a significant difference in the lives of their clients, and it’s enhanced the functioning of the justice system in Alberta.

“Most importantly for me, this callback feature helps Legal Aid Alberta achieve its vision of an Alberta where everyone can understand and protect their legal rights.”