Call center answering services offer possibilities even when integrated with other systems. Boston mayor Thomas Menino has been in office since the early 1990's and has consistently used live operators to answer calls. However, that will be changing soon, according to a recent piece featured in the Boston Globe.
The new service will not replace the old one completely. Rather, it will bring voicemail into City Hall for the first time since Menino's appointment as mayor, and it will only be used during hours when offices are closed. Menino's administration, especially Chief Information Officer Bill Oates, says that the new system will be more cost-effective, and is now easier to implement than in years past. It also plays into a larger project to update the phone systems of local agencies and government buildings.
"Our policy is you don't use [voicemail] during the day unless somebody specifically asks for it," Oates told the Globe recently. "Then you can be transferred in. After hours, you will go into voicemail, but you always have the option to kick out to a person."
For a long time, the lack of voicemail was a deliberate part of Menino's personal style, ensuring callers that someone would be there to answer them at all times. The mayor was known to be a stickler on this subject, even calling up officials who were using voicemail and leaving them condemnatory messages.
The city will still maintain its 24-hour call center, which should appease those who may fear the "Mayor for Life" has gone soft on this or changed his mind.
An answering service that utilizes both full on-site support and automated messaging could offer benefits to businesses and governments alike. The practical advantages of such a combined effort have the opportunity to become more visible as systems like Boston's are put into action.