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IID delays vote on phone system upgrade

June 01, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors delayed voting on a $600,000 upgrade to its integrated voice response unit at a special meeting Thursday because it was not immediately clear how the district would pay for it.

In a presentation to the board, project manager Stewart Booher explained that information gathered since the new unit was installed about six months ago shows the IID call center is still overloaded with calls, one of the problems the new system was to alleviate.

The board of directors approved spending $243,423 to upgrade the system in February last year.

The system automatically answers phones and, using information provided by customers, pulls up account information on a computer screen for IID customer service representatives.

Most of the calls are from people reporting changes of address, credit requests and various complaints.

The system originally needed upgrades because it did not interface with the district's computer system.


There are 11 customer phone lines coming into the call center, Booher explained.

If those lines are all in use, customers get a busy signal.

Often customers will then start dialing random IID phone numbers in attempts to reach someone, said Jane Alsip, manager of finance and treasury at IID.

That frustrates the callers and IID employees, Alsip said.

Though some changes were made, such as having another employee man a service representative's phone while he or she was unable to answer the phone, the call center remained overloaded, Booher said.

"Our first instinct was to throw people at it, but that didn't solve the problem of needing more lines," Alsip said.

The upgrade will increase the number of customer lines from 11 to 23.

Booher said other advantages include making the six outlying division offices fully functional, flexible call routing through the system and the ability to collect precise information from the call center.

Because the approximate $600,000 cost was not in IID's original budget the money will have to come from reprioritizing other projects.

Director Bruce Kuhn and board President Andy Horne requested the item be brought back before the board for approval at its regular meeting June 12 with details on how the upgrade will be funded.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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