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Intercape integrates voice, web chat and WhatsApp for seamless customer and employee interactions.
Intercape integrates voice, web chat and WhatsApp for seamless customer and employee interactions.

In the vast landscape of Southern African mobility, Intercape shines, prioritising safety and reliability for its travellers. Yet, beneath the surface, lies a complex digital communication network. Managing immense call volumes and inter-company chatter, Intercape — alongside tech partner Telviva — has embarked on a digital journey to elevate its communication infrastructure.

Due to the nature of the business, there are high volumes of calls to the company’s contact centres, as well as high volumes of intercompany calls. Intercape also used two-way radios at its major depots, adding to communications complexity.

As a result, Intercape was constantly looking to improve its communications infrastructure to better serve its customers and its own internal purposes.

A journey of digital transformation 

Traditionally, Intercape used a hybrid voice solution to harness the benefits of voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). This included a blend of legacy PBX systems connected via PRI lines from a fixed-line provider or via cellular router, as well as the company’s own on-premises Asterisk PBX servers. The company has had a long-standing partnership with Telviva (then Connection Telecom), which initially provided assistance and support for the Asterisk PBX servers.

As cloud telephony matured, Intercape connected its Asterisk servers to Telviva’s voice service via a SIP Trunk and began shutting down other services, with all services moved to the cloud. With Intercape having numerous branches around the country and recording huge volumes of inter-branch calls, including calls to the contact centre, moving everything to a single platform was the ultimate goal. 

“We are on a digital transformation journey — we have grown with technology and have been an early adopter in many cases,” says Ivor Kettles, Intercape’s chief information officer.

“The ethos of Intercape and Telviva are the same. Telviva has the right mindset of being able to fix things; if there is a problem, they are on it. We selected Telviva because they are a tier 1 provider and not just a reseller; they have their own infrastructure and engineers and are in a better position to meet our unique requirements or solve any issues.”

Improving operational efficiency

Intercape has a strong software development team working on technology solutions for the company, including having built its own ticketing system. Partnering with Telviva meant that the transport company opened up greater opportunities for integration. In one example, when the company’s call centre receives an incoming call, a call recording would automatically be attached to the ticket created by the system for future reference.

Intercape also worked closely with Telviva to implement a callback solution for bus drivers, with voice being the primary means of communication while they are on the road. Through this system, drivers phone a number and then hang up before they are called back by the operations centre, which has all the necessary information and tracking data on hand. 

If there is a technical issue, operations agents can seamlessly see where the bus is, contact the nearest mechanic, and set up a conference call that brings together all three parties on the same line.

Previously, the two-way radio system had to be added into the conference call as well, leaving agents juggling multiple phones. In addition, if there is a huge influx of calls, the communications system automatically starts escalating calls and routing them through to staff members’ cellphones. With over 150 vehicles on the road at the same time, enabling seamless communications has resulted in major improvements in efficiency.

Enhancing customer service and experience

As a bus company transporting passengers around SA and beyond, customer experience and customer service efficiency are key to Intercape’s operations. This includes having high-quality voice communications, which is critical for a call centre, as well as a well thought-out IVR system that ensures calls are routed to the right people — and routed properly (there’s nothing worse than calling a call centre, being put through to another person, and the call being lost along the way).

While Intercape’s main means of communications with its customers has traditionally been telephonic, customers are now looking to engage through other channels.

The transport operator has seen a 200% year-on-year growth in the use of WhatsApp and web chat (a text-based system that allows users to communicate through web interfaces) while the use of phone calls has declined and has employed call centre staff to specifically manage chat queries from customers.

We have ... a strong understanding of what technology can do to enhance Intercape
Ivor Kettles, chief information officer, Intercape

Chat engagements also reduce the burden on call centre employees, with a single agent being able to attend to four chats simultaneously, as opposed to telephonic queries, where agents can only service a single caller at a time. As a result, when looking at chat interactions, the company has improved its turnaround speed for resolution, while a searchable historic record of communications has helped provide a more personalised service.

Streamlining communications to a single service

WhatsApp messaging should not be run in isolation, however, and needs to be used through a platform that brings together multiple communications channels, so they can be used efficiently.

In the case of Intercape, the company uses Telviva Engage, which gives contact centres, customer service centres and customer-facing teams a single user-friendly view of all the channels on a browser they can access anywhere, on any device, for a more authentic, immediate customer experience.

“The main benefits of taking the cloud route have been flexibility as well as a quantifiable reduction in cost by streamlining all communications to a single service,” says Kettles.

“It also means that the company can now engage with customers on the channel of their choice. There was a time when our communications costs were coming down even as the company continued to grow. We have a strong relationship with Telviva and a strong understanding of what technology can do to enhance Intercape.”

Is your business looking to improve overall customer experience by integrating multiple communications channels, including fixed-line and mobile voice, video, web chat and third-party instant messengers? Contact Telviva today.

This article was sponsored by Telviva.

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