Inchcape Motors Australia (IMA) might not be a household name in Australia but the car manufacturers it distributes for certainly are. IMA is a wholesale/retail trading group with ties to Toyota, Subaru, Ferrari and Ford, and right now the company is in the process of marrying some funky multimedia ideas with an integrated communications layer provided by UK-based Touchbase.
Systems integrator Touchbase has secured a long-term contract with IMA to roll out an Avaya-based voice-over-IP (VoIP) system and wireless infrastructure, which the car company expects to boost productivity, efficiency and, most of all, "the customer experience".
Staged over several phases, Touchbase will deploy a number of integrated technologies under Avaya's Enterprise Class IP Solutions (ECLIPS) platform, according to Jane Armstrong, Touchbase's head of marketing. The ECLIPS platform will provide the backbone for a VoIP network between IMA's offices, dealerships and service centres throughout Australia, a unified messaging system for IMA's staff and a wireless infrastructure for onsite entertainment and multimedia concepts.
IMA expects the ECLIPS technology to pay for itself within five years through cost savings achieved by routing calls over its data network, linking its customer service centre to the Web and providing wireless phones for its staff.
"One of the criteria set by our management was that if the customer rings, e-mails or faxes, the message must get to the person that can answer the question with a maximum of two hops," said David Starr, IMA's information systems manager. "So if the appropriate person is not at their desk, the call or message will follow them to wherever they are."
IMA's Melbourne complex, Subaru Interactive @ Docklands, is being billed as one of a kind in the world.
"The site in Melbourne is not only a showroom and interactive area, but is also an AWD [all-wheel drive] track and a driver training track where you can actually experience the vehicles," Starr said. "We will have open days where a qualified driver will be able to drive on our skid pan and talk on his Avaya phone. His commentary will be amplified through a speaker system so he can explain to our visitors what he's doing."
IMA plans to stream live video coverage of car rallies and other events, which will be projected onto large screens around the complex. Computer games and interactive entertainment will also be incorporated into the multimedia environment. Another aspect of the IMA concept that is being facilitated by the Avaya technology is the absence of traditional receptionists at all of its sites.
"When you walk in the door, someone will greet you and point you in the right direction but there will be nobody sitting at a reception desk or answering a switchboard," said Starr. "Outside calls will be handled by a customer service centre based on Avaya ECLIPS in the Sydney office with another ECLIPS system in Melbourne as a backup. The people in the customer service centre will put you through to whoever is appropriate to handle your enquiry. For instance, they will be able to oversee the service engineers and then pass you through to one that's currently in the office and unengaged."
Touchbase became an Avaya Platinum Partner in October last year when Avaya pledged a 100 per cent channel model for the South Pacific region under a new go-to-market program, dubbed Direct Touch. The program saw Avaya opt for joint ownership of key customer accounts that were traditionally dealt with directly and transferred a number of its skilled staff to Touchbase.