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The problem for ONP in late 2011 was clear: its IP telephony provider had planned to stop providing technical support for its infrastructure during the following year. “For us, this meant that we would no longer be able to change this infrastructure in accordance with our new requirements,” Marc Vandersmissen, ONP’s Chief Information Offi cer explains. ONP set out its new requirements in a list of specifi cations – a mandatory procedure for local authorities – which included IP telephony, managing the call center, and an internal collaboration system (chat) that was integrated into the existing office software. “In theory, this amounted to turning our 2,100 or so agents into agents who could provide information on and interpret the pension calculations performed elsewhere by our computers, like some gigantic multichannel call center, ranging from the Internet to the telephone, and including regular visits to our offices. All this was to be done according to the tightest possible budget,” Vandersmissen adds.
Neither telephone nor voicemail
In this situation, Proximus’ proposal won the day, combined with the Voxtron call center solution, and the integration of Microsoft Lync. “This combination enabled us to benefit from an attractive per-minute pricing, even for our 0800 service. Meanwhile, the project lasted several months, and involved teams of three to five people for each function, both at Proximus and at ONP. Ultimately, after a few understandable hiccups, everything is now working perfectly,” ONP’s CIO observes. Aside from the technical aspect, particular emphasis was placed on internal communications and on the phased introduction of functions. “The system is particularly user-friendly whereas, in the past, the agents found it difficult to manage cascading calls or absences. The system virtually sold itself in our case, even though we organized a few extensive information sessions.” Nonetheless, the change has been noticeable. “From a physical standpoint, the agents no longer have a telephone on their desk, as it is integrated into their laptop. Thanks to the ‘at work’ function for the agents, we were able to do without having voicemail boxes and concentrate our efforts on more interesting functions, like video conferencing, or sharing documents,” Vandersmissen adds.
A dynamic environment and a transparent system
In addition, the new infrastructure enables us to promote remote working and so free up space in the famous Tour du Midi, which houses ONP’s head office on seven to eight floors, including significant travel cost savings and the option to relet the space that was freed up. For ONP’s CIO, “The administrative authority wanted to introduce a more dynamic working environment. The previous infrastructure did not allow us to deal with changes in the world of work or changes in the service provided to the public.” The system is completely transparent, both for the agents and for the public. “Thanks to VPN, an agent can work at home and print a document remotely, while our print shop then takes charge of mailing the physical document. As far as the public is concerned, the system distributes calls in the same way, regardless of whether the agent is in our offices or at home,” Vandersmissen concludes.
The Belgian National Pensions Office (ONP) is one of the largest social security administrative authorities in Belgium. Its remit is to inform the public about employees’ pensions, the pensions for self-employed workers and the guaranteed income for the elderly, and to calculate and pay those pensions and income.
Marc Vandersmissen arrived at the ONP in 2003 as CIO. He led the transformation of the ONP from a decade of paper and calculators on mainframe to electronic dossier, automated processes and multi-channel communication with citizens.
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