City of Hasselt

The City of Hasselt needed a communications system that better matched its customer experience goals. By updating their communications technology, they were able to centralize and improve multiple functions and provide citizens with better overall service.

The City of Hasselt in Belgium had historically operated the government offices and the social welfare departments as separate entities. They decided to build a brand new City Hall, to amalgamate the Municipality (Government) and Public Centre for Social Welfare (OCMW) into one new, modern building and to operate as one centralized organisation.

Challenges faced

The Public Centre for Social Welfare was a step ahead in terms of technology as they already had a Mitel MiVoice 5000 phone system. The municipality had a legacy Alcatel PBX system and they wanted to integrate it with the Mitel technology by migrating the PBX to plug in SIP trunks, which kept the costs down.

The city began researching a new communications platform that would help them in the long term, focusing on the implementation of a customer contact center and the integration of Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams for collaboration purposes.

A phased migration and deployment

The council chose BKM-Orange, a local trusted IT partner, to deploy the new solution. Experienced in dealing with Mitel technology, BKM worked closely with Mitel in Belgium to complete a smooth implementation.

The solution was deployed gradually, starting with the physical move to the new town hall at the end of 2018. At the start of 2019, MiContact Center was implemented and deployed to 12 agents. Immediately they saw the benefits with calls answered quickly, with no queues and customer service rated as “very good”.

By the summer of 2020, the Mitel CloudLink web chat was activated. It’s already been well-received. Built on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing platform, it provides enterprise-level uptime and stability, multi-layered security and data protection.

Small groups of about 10 employees at a time were in the process of being set up with Mitel MiCollab and softphones, with the rollout due to be finished by the summer of 2020. However, the project was accelerated because of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown and was actually completed in March 2020.

"There have been no issues with the Mitel technology. The integration was seamless, the system is working well and it is very user-friendly."

Hasselt Council purchased 800 MiCollab softphone licenses and about 500 users were working from home by March, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, while also benefiting from using Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business.

Training was obligatory for City Hall staff, helping them to quickly familiarize themselves with the Mitel technology. They were shown the basic functionality and also learnt how to use hunt and pick-up groups so they could enhance the user and customer experience.

Positive outcome for all

Hasselt Council now has several separate locations under one centralized Mitel telephony system. As well as the new town hall, there are also two nursing homes, a leisure center, two libraries and a center for elderly people to gather for lunches, dancing and new skills training.

The nursing homes had legacy analog lines. Now they have deployed SIP trunks and VoIP telephony. The buildings have WiFi access points for stability and resilience for nursing staff so they can log all activities on their WiFi phones. There are still analogue lines in residents’ rooms, but they can push a button which links into staff WiFi phones, which is very responsive. The libraries still have DECT phones with local break out for greater resilience.

The reporting tools are more accurate with Mitel’s technology and they have shown that the customer experience has improved, with contact center agents responding to citizens’ queries quickly and efficiently. Kris Vrancken, Telephony System Engineer at Hasselt Council, said, “There have been no issues with the Mitel technology. The integration was seamless, the system is working well and it is very user-friendly. We currently have about 600 home workers and most are happy to have the flexibility to do their jobs from home; they just call the ICT service desk if they have any support queries.”

"We know we are only using about 60% of Mitel’s capabilities, so the technology has the scalability and agility we need as we grow or evolve."

Stability, flexibility and scalability

The voice quality of Mitel’s technology is excellent and the telephony platform across all sites is stable and reliable, with good features and functionality. For example, there is calendar integration between Outlook and Mitel MiCollab, so the phones automatically default to voice mail or hunt groups when you are in a meeting.

The introduction of softphones has given staff more mobility and flexibility. The ‘one number’ concept is great for users like leisure center staff who only had desk phones before. Vrancken continued, “We know we are only using about 60% of Mitel’s capabilities, so the technology has the scalability and agility we need as we grow or evolve. Hasselt Council has 1,800+ employees and we have invested a lot of money in our voice technology. Mitel and BKM-Orange are very receptive to constructive feedback, listening to our ideas and suggestions; it is a good working relationship.”

At a glance

Situation

  • The City of Hasselt’s government offices and social welfare department merged to become one centralised organisation. The main objective of the collaboration was to provide better customer service for the citizens of Hasselt, which also meant integrating and centralizing their communications.

Solution

  • MiVoice 5000 phone system
  • MiContact Center
  • MiCollab-softphones
  • SIP DECT handsets
  • CloudLink web chat

Results

  • A better customer and user experience through feature-rich communications like real-time collaboration
  • Enhanced productivity using a single, unified service for collaboration, conferencing and messaging
  • Better customer satisfaction due to more reliable contact center technology
  • Improved business processes from internal reporting capabilities

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