DWP seeks £190m partner to deliver digital overhaul for mega-contact centre

Department publishes procurement notice outlining intent to deliver customer service centre incorporating automated features, enhanced call routing, and tools to help manage the workload of tens of thousands of staff

The Department for Work and Pensions is planning to replace government’s largest contact centre with a near-£200m new facility incorporating a range of new digital systems and automation capabilities.

The department has fired the starting gun on the bidding process for suppliers interested in serving as the main partner in developing and delivering a new Digital Channels Contact Centre (DC3). The chosen firm will be appointed to a initial five-year contract, with two potential one-year extensions beyond this. If it runs to its full term, the engagement will be worth £159.2m – plus VAT – to the winning bidder.

The contract notice reveals that, in addition to basic software-based telephony features, the DWP wants the new facility to incorporate digital and automated systems for both voice and text customer-service support, and internal staff operations.

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“DC3 will provide enhanced capabilities including softphone inbound and outbound calls, work force optimisation, webchat, interactive voice response, advisor skills-based call routing, call recording and call transcription,” the notice said. “It will be cloud hosted and will renew integrations with existing platforms that delivery capabilities for non-geographic numbers (0800 etc), video, payment card industry compliance, automated customer experience as well as integrations into business group CRM and call-routing strategies.”

The implementation of the new digitally optimised telephony system forms part of the DWP’s wider Contact Centre Modernisation Programme.

The department said the scheme “is directly aligned to the DWP strategy and departmental plans to transform our services and deliver an effective welfare system for citizens when they need it, while reducing costs and achieving value for money for taxpayers”.

The department describes its existing in-house contact centre as “the largest across all UK government departments and is one of the largest contact centres in Europe”.

Some 36,000 operators work on the platform, including 13,500 at any given time, operating from one of 200 locations around the contract.

Procurement records indicate that, over the course of the last decade, the DWP has used signed deals for contact-centre staff and technical services with a range of providers, including Serco, Capita, and G4S.

Sam Trendall

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