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Union Pacific steams ahead with ISDN.

The perception of railroads within the transportation industry produces an image of an antiquated industry with little opportunity to exploit today's technology.

However, the Union Pacific Railroad, with the help of Rockwell Switching Systems and Union Pacific Technologies, has developed a very successful ISDN application to support its National Customer Service Center (NCSC) located in St. Louis, Missouri.

Centralization and downsizing of 40 regional customer service offices into one national center presented many technology opportunities and challenges.

What is the best way to serve 30,000 customers and track 185,000 freight cars on 23,000 miles of track across 19 states? How does an agent in a centralized operation begin to replace the face-to-face service of the local freight agent who used to be located in the office down the street?

ISDN utilizing Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS) and Automatic Number Identification (ANI) provided part of the solution to this problem. Every call to a Customer Service Representative at the St. Louis NCSC generated a list of routine questions--who is this, what type of freight car meets your standard requirements, what is your preferred/scheduled pick-up/drop-off time.

Repetitive retrieval of this routine information on a per-call basis proved to be time-consuming for the NCSC and aggravating to the customer.

Development of the Union Pacific ISDN application began in mid-1988 with the commitment of Rockwell Switching Systems to develop the software that interfaces its Galaxy transaction link data feature vehicle with Primary Rate ISDN protocol (PRI ISDN).

Union Pacific Technologies agreed to develop the host computer software required to link the ISDN ANI to a customer profile data base within the Union Pacific's Transportation Control System software.

All required software was developed and the integrated system was fully brought on-time in February 1989.

Since that time, ISDN has been paying dividends to the NCSC in the form of faster cll handling and more personalized service from the service representative. This enhances the customer's perception of quality service.

Customer satisfaction surveys confirm rising levels of customer satisfaction with NCSC services.

Call handling times have been reduced through the use of ISDN. Utilizing a single, nationwide 800 number with DNIS, all incoming call signaling is handled over a single D-channel, the DNIS is received, and the Rockwell Galaxy routes the call to a station within the correct gate.

The ANI is forwarded, along with the number of the Galaxy station that will receive the call, to the host computer. The host computer scans two data bases--ANI to customer profile and Galaxy station number to CRT LATA.

The agent is alerted to the incoming call by a tone and then looks at the CRT which is now displaying the customer profile of the calling party.

This process saves the 30 to 35 agent keystrokes that would be needed to retrieve a customer specific information profile; plus the agent is immediately delivering personalized customer service.

The NCSC processes approximately 25,000 calls per day and operates 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.

The ISDN application has proven to be extremely durable and reliable, with all involved systems displaying uptime percentages exceeding 99.9 percent. The initial projection on the number of incoming calls with ANI was placed at 60 percent, but during the most recent month, 79 percent of all calls received from our nationwide 800 number were received with ANI.

In general, ISDN applications and services have not been widely utilized nationwide due to problems with tailoring applications, conflicting manufacturer standards, and user expectations. Therefore, ISDN is usually considered to be a technology of the future.

But the solid, flexible performance of Union Pacific's National Customer Service Center application may help prove that the future is now.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Travel/Hospitality; integrated services digital network
Publication:Communications News
Date:Mar 1, 1991
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