The issue of bringing the operations centre that manages rail disruptions for Finland's VR Group up to date was put out to tender. An ordinary contact centre solution would not have matched the group's needs as the work carried out by the operations centre differs from ordinary call centre operations. Nevertheless, when disruptions occur, the phone is the most important communication and management tool.
It is easy to manage the situation for one individual train but 90% of the Finnish rail network is single track. This means that a problem with one train usually quickly expands to affect tens of others. The operations centre thus involves a sudden large number of calls both inwards and outwards. However, it is impossible to keep a large number of workers available to answer calls just in case a disruption should occur.
For us, ensuring smooth-running operations in the event of disruption depends on identifying critically important calls and picking them instantly out of the phone queue," says operations centre development coordinator Martti Uusinarkaus. For example, the driver or conductor of the train that has encountered a fault, or possibly the driver of the replacement bus service can be identified by the phone number when they call in so that we can react to their call as fast as possible," Uusinarkaus continues.
When a disruption occurs is not the time to start to learn how to use the tool, so another special requirement was that the new phone system had to be easy to use.
"Besides their trustworthy references, we chose Advania because of their agile way of working and genuine enthusiasm for developing a solution for our specialised needs. The solution provided by Advania also differs from others thanks to its call identification and clear user interface. Work ran smoothly with Advania although we had to change our requirements from the original plan while the project was in progress," says Uusinarkaus.
The new system perfectly meets the aims set for the operations centre and has improved practical operations. The new system has shown what it can do and experiences when rail delays occur have been good with positive feedback from users. From a management point of view, the new system means taking things up a notch, as it means adopting reporting and so improving measurability. Other new functions of the systems will be taken into use in the future.