How Connect helped Ireland’s Health Service Executive to maintain services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the Irish government announced the planned return to school
of primary age children following lockdown, antigen testing was a
key part of its strategy. But getting the test kits out to schools at
speed was a major challenge. At the instigation of Vision Consulting,
Connect helped set up an Amazon Connect contact centre within
48 hours to manage orders from schools. The solution went live
within 5 days of Connect being approached; from there, Connect
helped fine-tune the system, adding new features to meet the Health
Service Executive’s needs.
The business need.
As countries across the world emerged from COVID-19 lockdowns, one of the priorities was getting children back to school as soon as possible. Ireland was no exception. But a central part of enabling that return was a strategy of mass testing of pupils, to try and control the virus and minimise further outbreaks.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) was responsible for distributing antigen testing kits across the country, and it had to mobilise fast to meet the target date. The HSE partnered with Vision Consulting, a leading business consultancy headquartered in Dublin, to deliver the testing programme
Both the HSE and Vision recognised that organising the accurate distribution of testing kits would necessitate frequent contact with thousands of families. With the HSE’s main customer contact centres already managing exceptionally high volumes of calls, resulting in long wait times, both partners knew an alternative was needed.
A decision was made to set up a separate contact centre specifically for families to order test kits. The one problem? The contact centre needed to be live in time for the public launch – which was just five days away. It was at this point that Vision Consulting approached Connect.
Connect had built a reputation as an expert in deploying the Amazon Connect contact centre suite. Because this is a cloud solution with payment based on usage, it is incredibly flexible and can be set up at speed – which was exactly what was required.
Nonetheless, the timetable in this instance was phenomenally tight.
Connect and Vision met on Wednesday to discuss the requirement and agree on a plan. Connect then rapidly mobilised a team of accredited Amazon Web Services specialists to design and build the solution. By Thursday evening, the solution was built, tested, and handed over to Vision for it to conduct further testing. Connect also worked with another partner, Occam, to carry out robust load-testing to ensure that the solution would cope with the predicted call volumes.
In parallel, Vision was recruiting the resources to staff the contact centre. Connect supported the training of the first cohort of agents over the weekend. On Monday morning, just five days after the initial discussion, the service went live as planned with fully trained agents able to handle the antigen testing kit requests for the primary schools.
During the initial week of operation, Connect provided specialist support to monitor the system and assist with any problems that arose.
From the outset, call volumes were extremely high as expected. While the solution was robust enough to handle those, the number of agents at first was – perhaps understandably – too low. Connect worked with Vision to refine the solution to improve queue management and offer a better customer experience, while further agents were being trained and introduced to the service.
Once the initial system went live, Connect continued to work closely with Vision to refine the solution so that it better met the needs of the HSE. That led to the development of a bespoke, automated reporting system that provides detailed management information for the HSE about the overall contact centre volumes and performance. In addition, Connect implemented performance dashboards to support the dayto-day management of the contact centre.
A further addition was the introduction of a callback service, designed to help returning customers deal with the same agent without having to go through the full interactive voice response system – improving the customer experience. As the requirement for testing kits reduced, the contact centre itself could be easily scaled back, thanks to the cloud-based model. Connect has continued to work with Vision to repurpose the solution and agents to provide other services for HSE.