Case Study: King’s College London

How we helped King’s College London to respond to 99% of enquiries throughout the busiest week of the year

The Problem

King’s College London is one of the world’s leading research and teaching universities, with an international reputation for academic excellence. In 2014, the number of applicants to the College topped 40,000, the equivalent of ten students for every available place. A small percentage of these failed to achieve their expected results, creating opportunities for other candidates to gain places.

On A-Level results day, the College therefore became inundated by thousands of calls from students eager to find out whether they had secured their conditional offers and accommodation, or whether they had qualified for one of the few places left open by failed candidates. In previous years the infrastructure at King’s, comfortably able to meet demand throughout the rest of the year, became overwhelmed at this time. Once the system reached maximum capacity, excess callers simply received a busy tone. Administrators had limited visibility over these calls, preventing the College from quantifying total demand for services during peak times.

Irrespective of the limited number of spaces available, King’s wanted to provide all applicants with a prompt and professional response, reflecting its importance and the urgency that prospective candidates feel at this critical time in their careers. However, expanding the College’s existing on-premise infrastructure would have required investment in an overly expensive and powerful system, the capacity of which would only be utilised once a year.

The Solution

Content Guru deployed its mass-scale cloud communications integration platform, storm, to overlay King’s College London’s existing communications infrastructure. storm provided a cloud buffer, automatically scaling to handle any volume of enquiries before they hit the College’s confirmations line. Because of the platform’s licensing model, King’s was charged only for its actual use of the service, with no requirement to continue to pay for surplus capacity throughout the year.

storm’s PSTN pairing enabled agents to continue to use their existing PBX handsets, landline and mobile devices to take calls. Automated contact centre services and iACD® (intelligent Automated Contact Distribution) functionality seamlessly routed place confirmation and accommodation enquiries to the most appropriate agent group or service. Excess calls overflowed to groups of contingency agents which had been configured on the platform, helping the contact centre to successfully answer 99% of enquiries.

When all agents were at maximum capacity, storm queued calls in the cloud; as soon as agents became available, they were automatically connected to a caller, optimising King’s resource distribution. Administrators were also able to account for every call received on the platform through storm’s real-time and historical reporting dashboards, providing in-depth analytics on caller behaviour and helping the College to consider how to optimise future services.

Before & After

Before After
In previous years, calls from prospective students quickly overwhelmed the King’s contact centre, leading to up to an unknown percentage of enquiries being left unanswered. storm provided the College with Automated Contact Centre Services and iACD functionality to handle calls more efficiently, reducing the number of unanswered calls to less than 0.7%.
Upon reaching maximum capacity, callers would simply be presented with a busy tone, leaving many prospective students frustrated and having to continually redial the service. When all agents and contingency agents were busy, calls were queued on the storm platform. Automated prompts advised callers of their places in the queue and estimated wait times.
Administrators had restricted visibility over the number of callers reaching a busy tone during peak periods, limiting their ability to accurately measure total call volumes and demand levels. Real-time & historical reporting dashboards enabled administrators to monitor key metrics, such as queue size and call count, providing valuable data for scaling services.
The College’s existing system was unable to handle the volume of critical enquiries received at peak times, but King’s had limited budget for specialist agent software or equipment which would be left unused for much of the year. storm enabled King’s to leverage the platform’s massive cloud-based capacity for just one month during the busy exam results period. storm agents used a standard desktop browser and leveraged existing handsets to access the service.

Testimonial

“A-level results day represents our contact centre’s busiest time in the academic calendar. We can receive up to a thousand student enquiries within the space of an hour, which in a typical year outstrips the capabilities of our on-premise infrastructure.

“In 2014, storm helped us to better meet this challenge. Its effectively unlimited capacity for contact handling, with vast numbers of simultaneous enquiries queued in the cloud, enabled us to automatically scale up our contact centre’s capacity and address the excess traffic. Furthermore, the College only paid for the actual capacity it used; we were thus able to respond to 99% of enquiries whilst comfortably staying within budget.”

Barry Malet, Project Manager, King’s College London

The Problem

King’s College London is one of the world’s leading research and teaching universities, with an international reputation for academic excellence. In 2014, the number of applicants to the College topped 40,000, the equivalent of ten students for every available place. A small percentage of these failed to achieve their expected results, creating opportunities for other candidates to gain places.

On A-Level results day, the College therefore became inundated by thousands of calls from students eager to find out whether they had secured their conditional offers and accommodation, or whether they had qualified for one of the few places left open by failed candidates. In previous years the infrastructure at King’s, comfortably able to meet demand throughout the rest of the year, became overwhelmed at this time. Once the system reached maximum capacity, excess callers simply received a busy tone. Administrators had limited visibility over these calls, preventing the College from quantifying total demand for services during peak times.

Irrespective of the limited number of spaces available, King’s wanted to provide all applicants with a prompt and professional response, reflecting its importance and the urgency that prospective candidates feel at this critical time in their careers. However, expanding the College’s existing on-premise infrastructure would have required investment in an overly expensive and powerful system, the capacity of which would only be utilised once a year.

The Solution

Content Guru deployed its mass-scale cloud communications integration platform, storm, to overlay King’s College London’s existing communications infrastructure. storm provided a cloud buffer, automatically scaling to handle any volume of enquiries before they hit the College’s confirmations line. Because of the platform’s licensing model, King’s was charged only for its actual use of the service, with no requirement to continue to pay for surplus capacity throughout the year.

storm’s PSTN pairing enabled agents to continue to use their existing PBX handsets, landline and mobile devices to take calls. Automated contact centre services and iACD® (intelligent Automated Contact Distribution) functionality seamlessly routed place confirmation and accommodation enquiries to the most appropriate agent group or service. Excess calls overflowed to groups of contingency agents which had been configured on the platform, helping the contact centre to successfully answer 99% of enquiries.

When all agents were at maximum capacity, storm queued calls in the cloud; as soon as agents became available, they were automatically connected to a caller, optimising King’s resource distribution. Administrators were also able to account for every call received on the platform through storm’s real-time and historical reporting dashboards, providing in-depth analytics on caller behaviour and helping the College to consider how to optimise future services.

How it Works

1. Services, Agent Groups and Queues were provisioned on storm.
2. Upon receipt of their exam results, prospective students called the College.
3a. Automated Contact Centre Services and iACD routed Confirmations enquiries to the relevant agent group.
3b. Accommodation enquiries were forwarded to a separate specialist service.
4. storm automatically routed excess calls to contingency agents during busy periods. If all agents were busy, calls were queued in the cloud.
5. All calls received were recorded for quality control purposes.
6. Administrators monitored and updated live services using service builder and reporting applications.