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TMCNet:  Hello, is anyone there?

[February 13, 2013]

Hello, is anyone there?

CLAREMORE, Feb 13, 2013 (Claremore Daily Progress - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- When citizens call the City of Claremore on Friday, they will no longer get a real person. They will have to navigate a series of prompts provided by a new automated telephone system.

The system goes live at 11 a.m. Friday.

Claremore Police Department, Street Department and the Will Rogers Library will be the last departments to join the system.

This is the final transition completing the city's telephone system upgrade.

In an effort the system was implemented to provide more efficient customer service to our citizens, according to Communications Director Cassie Woods.

"The new automated system gets the caller to the person they want to talk with faster and with fewer transfers," Woods said. "As with any new technology, there will be a transition period and we thank you for your patience as we work to improve this service." The new system is a Shoretel System providing several options to callers.

"The costs for the Shoretel system have been $98,262.74. This replaces the phone systems for the entire city and integrates all the seperate locations together into one system," said Information Technology Director Tim White.

Recently, the city transitioned the receptionist for the city to another department since the new system replaced that position.

Additional cost savings for the city include future telephone service charges at approximately $2,100 per month, according to White.

"Adding the Police Department was a big step in completing this transition. All emergencies should, of course, still first be reported to 911. But, this upgrade to the non-emergency phone lines will enable the customer to get the quickest response by dialing the main police line without tying up emergency lines," Woods said.

Direct-dial numbers will now be available to the public.

"When the system changes, a customer who frequently calls the same city employee can make note of that employee's extension and get directly to them by dialing that three-digit number at the main menu," Woods said. "This will eliminate lost messages, delays on hold while transferring calls and being sent to the wrong person." Woods said that for people that are not comfortable with an automated system, the caller would have the option to dial zero to be connected with a live operator.

"We think those who are familiar with automated systems will find this one very user-friendly and efficient," Woods said.

Citizen feedback has been good and bad, she added.

"Some people are glad to get to the directory and find the exact person they are trying to reach without being transferred multiple times. Others are impatient and angry and they want to talk to a human immediately. Because many of our citizens treat us as a phone book, calling to ask for the number to a county office, the school or even just to Pizza Hut, we do have some frustrated callers from time to time. But those who are calling the city to actually conduct city business have responded to the new system favorably. They really like that we now have voicemail boxes set up for individual employees and they can call a department head directly without having to be screened through a receptionist," Woods said.

___ (c)2013 the Claremore Daily Progress (Claremore, Okla.) Visit the Claremore Daily Progress (Claremore, Okla.) at claremoreprogress.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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