LA court automates ticketing

Busy signals, caller complaints down, productivity up
By Kathy Porteus

LOS ANGELES — With the recent addition of online payment capabilities, the largest municipal court in the country is witnessing significant improvements in handling thousands of traffic violation tickets each day.

Since installing ClientCall CourtTalk from San Diego-based Sonant Corp., the Los Angeles Municipal Court continues to chalk up benefits from automating its traffic ticket-handling and information delivery.
Most notable benefits include:
Reduced caller hold times by more than 550 percent
Near-elimination of busy signals
Reduced caller complaints by more than 90 percent
Freed up 35 percent of existing staff for other tasks
Doubled the number of callers processed per day without adding head count
Automated nearly $1 million per month in credit card payments via telephone and Internet
Significantly decreased the amount of regular mail received

According to Bernadette Duncan, division chief of the Metropolitan Branch Court of the Los Angeles Judicial District, only 12-13 agents are needed to handle the roughly 15,000 calls the department receives each week. “What is significant is that only one-third of these calls actually requires a live agent, whereas before, everybody calling needed to speak to someone,” she says.

The Sonant system is designed specifically to help courts manage the information most frequently requested by the public and enables the public—“customers”—to perform routine activities. The scalable system is based on redundant servers running on Microsoft Windows NT. The court selected Sonant, Duncan says, because of the rich functionality of ClientCall CourtTalk. Sonant also had, through previous work with the LA court, a thorough understanding of the court’s processes, system needs and decision-making timeline.

The Los Angeles Municipal Court’s online payment and traffic information capabilities went live in early 2000. According to Duncan, Internet use is rising significantly each month as the public becomes more aware of the Web option and more comfortable using the Internet.

To encourage even greater public use of its automated telephone and Web-based service, the court prominently displays the telephone number and Web address on traffic tickets. Call center agents also promote the Web site to further educate callers. “People can pay fines over the phone or online, as well as check on their last payment, give themselves a one-time 60-day extension, sign-up for a ‘trial by declaration’ or register for traffic school,” Duncan says.

With this kind of success, the call center under Duncan’s management will soon become the centralized center for the entire county. Today, there is a different call center for each of the 23 other municipal courts within Los Angeles County. As the call centers consolidate, their workload will be pulled into Sonant’s ClientCall solution.

In addition to providing self-process capabilities for citation payment or information, the Los Angeles Municipal Court’s Web site also enables the public to download court forms. “The main thing, from a court administrative and service perspective, is you want to cut down on foot traffic,” Duncan says. “This will be easier to do as more people become computer-literate and the service media of choice will be the Internet.”

Posted with permission of CC News from the February 2000 issue. Copyright United Publications, Inc., Yarmouth, ME. #26182 Managed by Reprint Management Services, (717) 399-1900

About Sonant
Sonant Corporation, a privately-held technology company based in San Diego, provides customized phone- and Web-based contact and information management systems for a wide range of industries and government organizations. ClientCall eCenter™ is the foundation platform of Sonant's family of contact center and electronic payment automation products. The products and services include such contact center automation features as Automatic Contact Distribution (ACD), Automated Speech Recognition (ASR), Interactive Voice Response (IVR), electronic payment by phone and Internet, Computer Telephony Integration (CTI), and fax-back. ClientCall eCenter™ is designed to enhance an organization's customer service and reduce operating costs.

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