Service: Environmental inspections
Service area: Inspection
Sector: Government and public bodies
Specialist area: Central government
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) manages the National Car Testing Service (NCT) in the Republic of Ireland. The NCT performs safety inspections on more than 1.4 million vehicles each year at 46 centralised test centres across Ireland. These tests evaluate all safety components, including brakes, headlights and exhaust emissions. Drivers are required to make an appointment at one of the centres, and appointments may be scheduled via a call center or on their website. The NCT's 60-seat call centre handles approximately 10,500 calls per day.
The RSA was seeking an integrated-technology solution that would effectively meet its commitment to providing a high level of customer satisfaction. The customised, integrated solution had to ensure proper handling of the RSA's high call volumes and make vehicle data immediately available to call-centre agents; include an updated website through which customers could schedule an inspection appointment at any of the 46 test centres; ensure that inspection facilities provided efficient and accurate vehicle-safety testing; and be intuitive, requiring minimal training.
The Applus+ solution
Applus+ leveraged its extensive experience as a provider of custom technology solutions to develop a comprehensive, multi-faceted technology solution that specifically met all of the RSA's needs. The resulting Applus+ Car Testing Solution delivered versatile, integrated applications to support the NCT with bookings, vehicle check in, cash management and data collection. The multi-faceted Applus+ solution enhanced and strengthened the efficacy of the existing call centre, included a dashboard architecture with a role-based security access model; streamlined the public website to be more user friendly; provided management of all 46 test centres and included an integrated cash management application.
The call centre
The Applus+ call centre solution was customised to manage the NCT's high call volumes. It provides secure functionality to call-centre agents and administrators through an intuitive, user-friendly interface that requires minimal training. The call centre supports between 60 and 90 concurrent users with functionality that rapidly accesses, retrieves, and updates vehicle and owner data. When a call-centre agent updates a booking record, it is sent in real-time to all 46 inspection facilities. Call-centre agents use a role-based dashboard that allows them to create, reschedule or cancel appointments for vehicle safety inspections. The dashboard calendar feature displays available appointment slots for each of the testing facilities. Agents can also view vehicle information, including registration date, the vehicle inspection number (VIN) and tests, as well as booking history. They can add or remove cancellations and inspection fees. Administrators have additional access that includes key performance metrics and compliance measurements. This level of the dashboard enables administrators to run various reports such as statistical analysis of the number of tests passed or failed, the type of tests requested and the number of tests currently booked. They can also set several configuration options that control appointment-slot capacity, test types and staff-management features.
Applus+ leveraged innovative technology to develop the dashboard, which is a web-based portal application that serves as a single point of entry for all users of this solution. The call-centre dashboard has specialised integration features and interfaces with the Vehicle Inspection Database (VID), which is a central transaction processing database. The VID provides a robust, redundant-data management solution due to its 46 mirrored databases. In addition, the role-based functionality is integrated with Microsoft Active Directory. While all users see the same interface, the role-based security model ensures that they have access only to data and functionality specific to their job functions. Call-centre agents, facility managers and vehicle inspectors use job specific sub-modules accessed through the dashboard. For example, call-centre agents have options for booking appointments while administrators have access to the reporting functionality. The dashboard architecture is designed around a flexible development framework that can be easily modified or enhanced with new features. The technologies leveraged to develop this solution include Microsoft .NET, SQL Server, and .NET XML Web Services, as well as AJAX.
The NTC public web site
The public web site, hosted by Applus+, provides information about the locations of inspection facilities, the car-test manual and test statistics. Motorists can also schedule, change or cancel an appointment via the website.
Applus+ manages 46 centralised test centres for the National Car Testing Service. In addition to performing vehicle safety inspections, the testing facilities print inspection certificates (and discs), and vehicle inspection reports. They also sell disc holders used to display certificates on vehicle windows, and perform visible retests of vehicles or documents where issues have been detected.
Each facility has a front-desk application, which is a specialised dashboard. Facility employees use this application to check in vehicles for testing, randomly assign inspectors to vehicles and manage onsite staff. Management features include tracking the availability of on-site inspectors including break times, leave history and transfers.
Each vehicle-inspection lane is equipped with an Applus+ AutoLogic workstation with customised testing equipment, including a brake tester, smoke meter and emissions analyser and interfaces with a specialized workstation dashboard. This dashboard collects emissions and other data, and allows inspectors to update vehicle information.
Applus+ developed an integrated cash management application to track money in up to five different cash registers per facility. The application maintains incremental and decremental cash values in real time. Using established financial rules, it also controls cash transfers and minimum cash requirements for each register. The cash management application uses the .NET framework to integrate with SAP in the Applus+ corporate office. This integration provides financial teams with the flexibility to generate reports as needed.
Applus+ successfully delivered a comprehensive and high-quality solution meeting the customer's needs on time and within budget. The call centre handles over 10,500 calls per day, with zero downtime since day one of this new solution. Even as new users, call-center agents were able to process bookings and other customer requests more efficiently. This enhanced performance was matched at inspection facilities where traffic flow increased, wait times for motorists were minimised, and equipment functioned with complete reliability. The Applus+ commitment to software quality assurance guaranteed that the vehicle-testing process was highly accurate and vehicle data was immediately available. Call-center agents and vehicle inspectors were able to navigate the dashboard with a high level of competency. In addition, the transition to the new public web-site proved straightforward for, contributing significantly to customer satisfaction.
And a last word from the client
Feedback from operations management highlights the Applus+ commitment to high quality software that provides user-friendly interfaces and maximises employee productivity. Applus+ continually receives comments such as "The station dashboard and lane software are well presented to the user, and very intuitive for the test centre staff to use." The enhanced usability of the dashboard allows inspectors to focus on vehicle safety and motorist satisfaction with the inspection process, contributing to the overall success of the National Car Testing Service. Additional comments from the NCT focus on the excellent technical support provided by Applus+ professionals, which was a significant factor in the seamless transition to the new call-center software. The technical expertise demonstrated by Applus+ guaranteed the call centre's ability to meet the demands of high call volumes and provide high-quality customer service to Ireland motorists.