CRM the jewel in Policelink crown

Policelink, the non-urgent contact centre for Queensland's police service is set to go live this Sunday, with customer relationship management (CRM) software set to slash call response times.
Written by Luke Hopewell, Contributor on

update Policelink, the non-urgent contact centre for Queensland's police service is set to go live this Sunday, with customer relationship management (CRM) software set to slash call response times.

Greg Flint

Acting superintendent Greg Flint addressing the Australian CIO Summit 2010. (Credit: Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia)

Speaking at the Australian CIO Summit 2010 this week, acting superintendent Greg Flint said that the Policelink project was about setting up a contact centre that could deal with the reporting of non-urgent crimes and the designation of crime severity.

"It was becoming increasingly complex to deliver effective policing services to the diverse Queensland community, with 90 per cent of calls to 000 police emergency services relating to non-urgent matters," Flint said.

The Policelink project was established to manage police response to issues such as property damage, car theft, lost property, general police enquiries and manage Crime Stoppers reports, which fall under the banner of non-urgent policing.

The contact centre for Policelink is powered directly by two separate telephony exchanges to handle the load of calls through the centre. Two more telephony exchanges are employed to deliver services via the Brisbane-based datacentre.

"[Queensland Police Service] already had a significant investment in Alcatel-Lucent switching solutions around the state, we chose to expand on that with the [Policelink] contact centre," Flint said.

By leveraging its existing telecommunications relationships, Policelink is also in a position to quickly establish and handle incoming traffic for special event and disaster management lines, taking the strain off front-line police and the 000 emergency centre.

Policelink is primarily designed to support front-line officers in the day-to-day job of response management, as well as filing paperwork pertaining to crimes through a new CRM platform.

Managing director for Sword Ciboodle Australia/New Zealand, Brian Donn, told ZDNet Australia that its CRM product had been specifically tweaked for the Queensland Police Service to facilitate the reporting and management of crime reports.

"The idea was to make it a simple, step-by-step reporting system that would be easy to use," said Donn.

Policelink will use the Ciboodle system to log calls coming into the contact centre, with callers keying in their details before they speak to an operator. Similar to a standard customer service environment one might find in a telco, Policelink staff will be able to see a caller's prior call history and track the status of open cases, as well as view recent reports made by that caller.

The acting superintendent told the summit that the previous average call-handling time for crime reporting was 15 minutes and 30 seconds. With the ability to streamline a contact centre using the CRM system, Flint said that the time would be able to be cut by almost four minutes.

"CRM gives us significant advantages in the area of telephony integration ... with a highly configurable, well-structured system giving our staff the ability to handle calls 30 per cent faster than before," he added.

Flint also said that now the Policelink CRM system was in place, the Queensland Police Service had the capacity to establish online and text message-based reports from the public. However, the acting superintendent told the summit that the police needed to be very specific about the services it offered in that area.

"The problem is with letting people report via SMS or online is that they will report things we can't follow up on, like incomplete reports or even drivers texting us the licence plates of cars behaving badly which has no context."

After the Policelink roll-out on Sunday, Victoria will be the only state without a non-urgent police contact centre.

If you are in Queensland and need to report a non-urgent crime, call Policelink on 131 444. If you are in an emergency, or need immediate assistance, dial 000 Emergency Services.

Updated at 3:00pm. 6 August 2010: clarified that the calls were non-urgent and that the second two exchanges were used to provide services via a datacentre.

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