National Contact Center
Saudi e-government Program

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Prior to National Contact Centre ” AMER “ launch in 2012, citizens across the Kingdom had raised several issues and concerns with the way in which e-Government services were managed. Many complained that: it was difficult to memorize and in some instances locate a different contact number for each e-Government Service; calls to e-Government services were costly to make, with long wait and hold times; and there were limited hours of operation which meant some consumers were never able to utilize the telephony services offered. In addition to concerns raised by the public, a number of Government Agencies had also raised concerns to Saudi e-Government Program “Yesser” about the low quality of services offered, the high volume of citizen complaints, a lack of consistency between how each government service operated, poor service, and in some circumstances, no availability of a call centre; a lack of key performance indicators and operational targets; limited channels to provide citizens with the support they need and the overall high cost of operating standalone call centres.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
AMER is the National Contact Center(NCC) for e-Government services within Saudi Arabia and was established by the Saudi e-Government program (Yesser) and according to Yesser second action plan 2011-2015 and following the feedback received from citizens and government agencies about problems with the previous approach to the delivery of e-service support. Yesser made the decision to establish a national contact centre after it became clear that there were a large number of challenges to address; many of which would be impossible to resolve on an individual, case-by-case basis, due to the large number government agencies and the wide scope of services offered. The main objectives of NCC is to Professional instant response to queries relating to e-Government issues through various channels, Providing solutions and response to individual customers, businesses and visitors through various communication channels, Facilitating processes of searching and e-communication with individuals and organizations, Reducing load on main service providers, Improving response time by government agencies particularly in emergency and critical situations and Gaining more skills and knowledge and Keeping up with the progress in IT area for the benefits of the existing and future phases The national contact centre resolves the previous barriers impacting citizens and the national contact centre proudly offer: services at no cost, which are covered by a toll free number; improved accessibility with 10 communication channels available and no wait or hold times, as there is a dedicated team of trained professionals who are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year. In addition to addressing barriers impacting citizens, the national contact centre also addresses issues affecting government agencies and the quality of services offered. All government agencies attached to the national contact centre are centrally managed by internal policy and procedures, which govern: the expected performance and conduct of call centre agents; the training, coaching and support that must be provided, along with complaint handling, effective problem escalation and many others. By centrally controlling e-government services, Amer can ensure that consistency is maintained and that quality metrics do not drop below the expectations of the end user. Amer has adopted a ‘phased rollout’ strategy, whereby government agencies are ‘onboarded’ individually, based on factors such as estimated call traffic and future government legislation. Onboarding simply defined, is the process of induction and handover of standalone government agencies to the national contact centre. One approach of Amer has been to target government agencies with the highest levels of call traffic, thus enabling the maximum citizens to benefit from the improved level of service offered, while another strategy has been to onboard government agencies that have planned initiatives that are going to create a big demand for service support, as seen recently with the onboarding of Saudi Post and their national database scheme, which requires every household register their address.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Amer is the only national contact centre in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, combining all the support numbers into a short code(199099) which is easy for citizens to memorize. Unlike other contact centre across the Kingdom, the national contact centre utilizes multichannels of communication, which are phone calls, emails, SMS, online live chat, Facebook, Twitter, post, fax, mobile application and USSD. The website for National Contact Center(AMER)

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The aim of this project is to establish the Saudi National Contact Center (NCC) which will serve as a single point of contact for all interactions with the Saudi government agencies for all inquiries about the e-services of the agencies. The National Contact Center will play an important role towards achieving the e-Government Program (YESSER) goals; it will provide a central access point for all citizens, residents, and businesses in Saudi Arabia. The project consists of two major phases, the solution development phase (6 Months) and the operation phase (36 Months). Throughout the project life cycle there are many milestones that have been divided as per the following time period: Month 3: -Deliver final analyses document for NCC CRM & Portal -Deliver The call center system architect and workflow document -Sign SLA with government agencies & Yesser Month 6: -Complete NCC CRM & Portal implementation -Complete NCC call center systems implementation -Complete integration with Government Agencies system and databases. -Start the Quality monitoring program -Start NCC Operation Month 8: -Complete updating Knowledge base system for current GA services. -Deliver quality monitoring results and improvement plan. Month 38: -Signing final acceptance -Closing & handover Major Deliverables by End of Month 3: Documentation -Project Charter -Project Scope Document -Test Plan -Training Plan -Project Management Plan -Project Schedule Software -Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 -NCC SharePoint Portal with Modules: Knowledge Management System Document Management System Major Deliverables by End of Month 6: Services -Call Center Business Processes -System Integration with government agencies -Avaya IVR -Avaya CTI -Avaya ACD -Avaya Call Management System -Web Chat and Multimedia collaboration -Email Routing Postal Mail -SMS Service -Fax Service -Agent Desktop -Sites Redundancy -Speechlog Recording System -Inbound & Outbound Voice Services -Microsoft Dynamics CRM Services: -CRM Business Management -In Bound Services -Out Bound Services -Case routing workflow -Escalation workflow -Case assignment workflow -Case resolution workflow -Monitoring & Reporting -Call Center Operations -Agents Recruitment -Agents Training -Quality Monitoring -Statistical Reporting FINAL DELIVERABLE: -Fully implemented call center business processes identified in envisioning and planning phase. -In- Bound and out-Bound Services. -NCC portal with related information and modules. -Data &Telecom integration with related agencies.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The initial idea for the national contact centre was suggested by the project sponsor Yesser, who represent the Saudi National e-Government program. Following the initial concept a request for proposal was developed by Deloitte and issued by Yesser to a number of private companies and from that, Smart Link Customer Contact and Outsourcing Services, put forward a successful operating model and project plan for running the national contact centre. Once the partnership between Yesser and Smart Link was established, Amer was created and a number of government agencies joined the scheme, such as: Saudi E-government Portal, Department of Zakat and Income Tax, Ministry of Civil Services, Saudi Post, National Center for Digital Certifications, SADAD payment system, Communications and Information Technology commission. The technological development of the call centre was a joint venture between several subject matter experts. These were: Avaya who provided knowledge required for configuration and integration of the unified support number and calling systems; a company called SURE, who provided expertise on the configuration and development of a Microsoft dynamics customer relationship management system; Deloitte who developed the RFP and Smart Link, who project managed the implementation process and now oversee the operation of the national contact centre.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The total financial cost for the Amer national contact centre will be distributed over three and half years and is budgeted to be $10.6 Million. The initiation phase which lasted 6 months, represented 10% of the total cost and it was invested in the development of technology, software, premises creation and other resourcing costs. In order to meet the objectives of the national contact centre; the project team evaluated several technological systems to select the right solution which mean the needs of the national contact centre, ensuring that any system chosen would enhance the process of communication for the end user. The specific system selected within the national contact centre, is the Avaya Aura contact centre (AACC). Using AACC we have enabled our customers to communicate through multiple channels, which are combined on one screen that individual agents can manage, thus eliminating the inefficiency of using multiple systems. In addition to the Avaya telephony system, Amer have also invested in the development of a Microsoft Dynamics customer relationship management system, which is a distinguished CRM product, known for being both user friendly and up-to-date with the latest features required for successful contact centre management, allowing for the attainment of national contact centre objectives. Following the successful development of Microsoft Dynamics for the NCC, it has also been rolled out to our partners in other government agencies, to ensure a unified system between both parties and cases can now be raised, handled and resolved, all within the same system. To boost the knowledge and maintain the quality of information among NCC agents we have used a knowledge management system to unify the information and represent as repository of the government agencies service catalogue that the agents can refer to when answering customer questions. A strict set of evaluation criteria’s for technology partners and for partners whom were selected for participation in initiating the National Contact Centre were put in place. During the initiation phase of the NCC, multiple resources were used from different parties and we have utilized Deloitte as a consultant , using their capabilities to help build and develop the RFP which resulted in a focused and targeted scope of NCC services. Microsoft consultants were engaged during the analyses phase of NCC CRM system to ensure all the objectives stated in the RFP were reflected in the design of CRM solution which resulted in a very successful implementation of the MS dynamics system. The whole project of NCC was sponsored and funded by the Saudi E- Government program (Yesser).

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Before DZIT (department of Zakat and income tax) joined the NCC, they had no automation for supporting their clients, seldom support channels and centralized offices for support. On average they were received around 20 calls per day. In order to get assistance, beneficiaries had to visit DZIT offices, sometimes having to travel considerable distance to a regional office, in order to complete paper work and submit an application. This resulted in lost time and money for beneficiaries whom had to queue up in line and wait their turn during official working hours 8am – 2 pm, with no ticketing system to track their application progress. After joining NCC, things have changed for DZIT clients, who now benefit from a toll free number and 8 support channels. Engagement resulted of DZIT users has consistently increased week-by-week, starting at under a hundred calls per week upon induction and now averages circa 700 calls per week. The DZIT example is indicative of concrete outputs visible across all government agencies attached to AMER. These output listed are: less time consuming, less cost, faster service, multichannel support, in addition to organizing users complaints.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
To ensure a successful implementation we have explored different aspects of the Contact Center operations as follow: Control the project implementation by implementing the PMI standards throughout each of the project phases; from initiation of the project (signing the project charter) to the planning and approval of the project scope, time, cost, human resources, risk and procurement management plans, creating baselines and setting project delivery milestones to executing the plan as per the approved plans and monitoring and controlling the project life cycle by ensuring the project deliverables meets the set requirements and approved by the sponsor to the final approval and project closure. Establishing a solid and unique Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) of the contact center operation to ensure a smooth are provided within a timely manner. Created a very comprehensive Service Level Agreement with the contact center operator that covers and control all of the required components including but not limited to availability, quality, service conditions, KPI’s. Applied Quality Monitoring plan, QM program measures how will agents comply with internal policies and procedures and interact with customers by phone, email, SMS, Fax and web chat. The QM program will also go beyond these basics. It will combine the results of customer satisfaction surveys with internal measurements to provide a 360-degree view of the customer experience. NCC Quality Monitoring program is designed to demonstrate the contact center commitment to its customers and agents, and is essential for building world-class contact centers. Key benefits are varying and can be summarized as the following: increase Customer Satisfaction, Increase agents Efficiency, and Tune the training programs, Enhance the overall quality performance.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
There were two main problems at the implementation stage of the national contact centre, these were: 1. Time: The project took a lot longer to develop than was initially anticipated. This was due to involvement from several technology companies, which each had a dependency on one another. Due to late delivery of a couple of technological components, we were unable to commence operations until several months after than planned launch. 2. Mindset: The government agencies which were onboarded to the National Contact Centre were required to complete a handover of their call centre operations. Some government agencies were reluctant to complete the required handover documentation, or comply with the required processes and procedures put in place by Amer. This further delayed implementation, while conversations were held with the government agencies to emphasis and explain the importance of the handover process. In order to overcome and address the problems encountered during implementation, the Amer project team ensured that they communicated and explained the value of the NCC to government agencies and the positive impact it would have improving the accuracy, integrity, availability and cost effectiveness. To combat the delayed project launch, Amer increased their efforts in recruitment which allowed for government agencies to be onboarded at a quicker rate than planned. This resulted in the national contact centre actually being able to service more customers than was initially forecast, for the same period, has there not been the delay.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Easier access for government services, the idea of having a unique contact center that provides support for all the GAs was the main idea behind the initiative. Before NCC, most of GAs did not have their own call center and thus there was no support channels to back up their services. Others who had their own call centers had limited operational hours, with very basic support channels (email and phone) and low customer experience & satisfaction scores. Simple channel for the voice of the customer, NCC was developed to overcome the aforementioned issues and to also provide: high quality of service, 24x7 supports for all the beneficiaries and to engage the public in the feedback about the E-services provided by conducting surveys, questionnaires and public voting via Amer website. Saving costs and efforts for Government agencies to have customer support, Government agencies can connect to the national contact center free of charge where the investment they need to make is the training for the agents about the services supported by Amer. Onboarding seven government agencies on Amer indicates the added value of the service provided by Amer and the level of engagement from the public using these services. When the government agency shifts their tier one support to NCC their operational overhead decreases and the budget allocated for supporting their services is utilized in other investments. The Government agencies onboarded are Saudi E-government Portal, Department of Zakat and Income Tax, Ministry of Civil Services, Saudi Post, National Center for Digital Certifications, SADAD payment system, Communications and Information Technology commission. Improve government agency customer engagement and collaboration, the NCC traffic shows the importance of how the customer provides their feedback on the level of support and express their opinion on specific services, driving the government agencies to reflect and improve the services in a better way. Government agencies benefit from NCC by receiving and documenting the clients’ complaints and suggestions which lead to major change in the internal management, raising the quality of service they provide, statistical data about the most frequently used services and the public feedback about the upgrade features. Cost saving examples: Average cost for a centralized call center per agency running around 30 agents including operational cost and infrastructure upgrade about 1 million dollars. Upon joining NCC, joining fee is free of charge and the only investment is the training on the GA’s services. On the other side, since the call center infrastructure is built and designed to be upgradable and a shared resource strategy, the cost to onboard a government agency on NCC is on average of 120,000$/year thus resulting direct saving by 88% per agency. Average cost per phone call per minute is 0.13$ and the average waiting time is 10 minutes which resulted of 1.13$ per phone call on the end user whereas after joining NCC the end user can benefit of the toll free number with Zero cost per phone call. Average calls received per agency before joining NCC was 350 calls per day; 127750 calls per year multiply by the average cost per call 1.13$ is 144,358 dollars. Current transactions received are 135,564 with an average cost of 152,000 dollars. Expectations of 2014 is to receive 2 million transactions with an average cost of 602,667 dollars saving on the public users benefiting from the toll free number with cost 0$. Customer survey feedback Before the establishing the contact center, the customer feedback received upon conducting surveys about the quality of service provided by GA was almost similar in the frustration about the poor quality of service, centralized support offices, shortage in resources providing services and lack of consistency and availability with a satisfaction rate of less than 10%. After building the national contact center and hiring government agencies, the customer feedback has been shifting to a positive vibe where the traffic increases, more transactions were received and the customer surveys conducted has proven that over 70% of the users are benefiting from the services. • Professional instant response to queries relating to e-Government issues through various channels • Providing solutions and response to individual customers, businesses and visitors through various Professional instant response to queries relating to e-Government issues through various channels • Providing solutions and response to individual customers, businesses and visitors through various communication channels • Facilitating processes of searching and e-communication with individuals and organizations • Reducing load on main service providers • Improving response time by government agencies particularly in emergency and critical situations. • Gaining more skills and knowledge and Keeping up with the progress in IT area for the benefits of the existing and future phases • communication channels • Facilitating processes of searching and e-communication with individuals and organizations • Reducing load on main service providers • Improving response time by government agencies particularly in emergency and critical situations. • Gaining more skills and knowledge and Keeping up with the progress in IT area for the benefits of the existing and future phases

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The AMER Initiative is sustainable because of its uniqueness, success and positive results. The Initiative has gained a lot of attention and popularity among both the public and government agencies and it is quickly becoming a model of best practice for the ministries and governmental institutions. The Initiative does not hold any significant restrictions on the scope of services offered and as a result, AMER can ensure sustainability of the contact center through an ability to quickly adapt to change. AMER acts as a settling government influence for the public, in a sometimes unsettling environment. AMER is also a sustainable initiative as it is based on clear engagement rules mandated by the Saudi e-Government Second Action Plan, which is: “to establish shared application to be used and utilized by government agencies for the benefit of citizen, expatriates and visitors of KSA” From an economic point of you because, AMER has reduced the cost of establishing multiple contact centers with a huge operational and maintenance cost (GA cost) / free of charge support channels for the service users (customers). AMER ensure transferability as we are branded the national contact center and institutionalized as a national shared resource. We have created the unique brand of “AMER” for the contact center and we set various processes and procedures governing how it is operated and the fundamentals of decision making within the public sector; is essentially the same on all levels.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Over the past year we have transformed traditional government services support and now offer a full range of modern communication channels. We have defined the value of e-government service support to both leaders and managers and have clearly conveyed the message and advantages to the public. Before further expanding the national contact centre operation, it has become clear that we need to: improve internal policies and processes; reduce attrition and improve staff loyalty to the project; develop agent incentives, along with a development and promotion program and improve our quality monitoring, linking it as a core key performance indicator on the staffs balance scorecard.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Saudi e-government Program
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Ahmad ALkhiary
Title:   Assistant Director General and CTO  
Telephone/ Fax:   (011) 4522133
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   King Abdulaziz street
Postal Code:   11112
City:   Riyadh

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