In response to shifting demand patterns, we’ve been working to identify key drivers for control rooms in improving its demand management practices.
Here, we look at the Top 8
- Improve first point of contact resolution
Integrated technology and systems empower operators to get the whole picture at the first point of contact, which in turn speeds up the resolution time and prevents unnecessarily tying up further resources. This approach can be cultivated through working with collaborative suppliers that are passionate about connecting your tools to give a single view of your caller, their circumstances and previous contact history.
- Manage public expectations
The control room community is forging ahead with campaigns that educate the public about how and when to contact them.
Social media is a powerful tool for enforcing that message. For example, to highlight the dangers of the use of fireworks and having garden fires during bonfire night, FRS control rooms are reaching out on Twitter with high-impact visuals that show the devastation of mishandling fireworks and giving tips on how to have a safe time, whilst enjoying the evening.
- Provide online automated channels
Online automation, for example, web portals with information about frequently asked questions and a quality knowledge database is key to the future of demand-management. It’s important that these tools are accessible to the public and simple to understand, or else they won’t be used. These channels are useful sources of feedback too, which will help in future demand planning – for example, by understanding which topics are commonly searched for.
- Use IVR and Chat Bots
The most natural starting point for using chatbots in the control room to manage demand is call triage for those on hold, waiting to be answered. A simple deployment could be a chatbot that asks a caller if the call is an emergency, with danger to life or not. If not, it prompts them to leave a voicemail. Situations where this would work could include – for instance – when a member of the pubic calls to alert the fire service that there is an abandoned, burnt-out vehicle.
Chatbots with more sophistication could let callers identify the type of emergency and location, and either prioritise human handling of the call or route the call to a backup or secondary control room. Within a call, chatbots could also identify the need for a language-line translator to automatically engage the resources needed to help the call taker.
- Encourage the multichannel approach
Digital contact channels into the control room are growing fast and they can help manage demand.
SMS is one of the channels that’s becoming a firm favourite with control room teams due its low-cost and high impact. With one simple SMS, Fire Control can better-manage a major fire incident by texting everyone in a certain postcode asking to keep windows closed or to stay indoors until further notice.
- Use integrated software
Innovative technologies are constantly emerging from new and established players that can, and are already are, helping to improve demand management in the control room.
For example, cloud-based CAD systems with integrated vehicle tracking and route optimisation can get crews on-scene, faster.
What3words is another example; a free piece of software, it pinpoints a person’s exact geographical location within a square metre – helping identify members of the public who are calling from an unknown location.
In short, make sure you take advantage of the very latest and best tools available. You can do this by working to an integrated approach with multiple suppliers that offer open APIs for your control room technology suite, instead of choosing a single vendor end-to-end.
- Record, analyse and share all possible data
Capturing non-urgent information – for example using a Customer Relationship Management tool, like our Aspire solution – not only helps identify demand patterns but can also include information about a caller or related building.
For example, it can capture whether a caller is disabled or if they need medical support by using oxygen canisters so that if the caller ever rings the fire control room, it’s instantly clear that this person is disabled and will need help getting out of the building – highlighting to the crew that there is oxygen in the building.
Understanding your community better can also inform resource planning, threats and opportunities – all of which supports improved demand management in the control room.
- Proactively manage staff turnover
One of the biggest challenges is managing turnover in the control room.
With increasing demand often comes increasing pressure, which can make it more difficult to retain people with long-term operational knowledge and experience.
Celebrate your staff and work hard at employee engagement programmes to ensure mental health and wellbeing.
International Control Room Week, which runs 21 – 27 October, is an excellent way to show your support to everyone in the control room. A full week dedicated to highlighting the amazing work that happens in the control room and shining the spotlight on the frontline team who often get forgotten.
Register at: www.internationalcontrolroomweek.com from September 2, 2019.
Talk to us about managing demand in your control room.
We develop innovative communications technologies for mission-critical control rooms around the world – for the police, fire and ambulance services, international airports and major transportation hubs.
Our people are passionate about creating solutions that support and transform how our customers interact with and protect the public.
Get in touch if you would like to know more – we would be delighted to see how we can help.