When it comes to communications in the justice system, the stakes are high – participants in court cases need to know when and where they need to appear, or else face potential legal consequences. The jury trial system is built on citizen participation but is something most people will only interact with a few times in their lives.
It’s essential that the courts be able to communicate information efficiently and in an accessible manner. Because any given citizen could become involved, these tools need to be built on a foundation even more universal than email. The courts serve people of all backgrounds, living situations, and income levels. They can’t assume that recipients will have reliable access to a computer or a smart phone, let alone the comfort level to use it.
The right Unified Communications solution can add powerful applications to the court’s toolbox, enabling more efficient, frictionless interactions with the public.
Modern Automated Attendants
Most people are familiar with the concept of an Automated Attendant (commonly thought of as a “phone tree”), a program that answers and routes calls based on caller input. Automated Attendant technology has made rapid advances since it was introduced, and a modern version offers several benefits that can be particularly useful to court systems.
As a government entity, court systems must serve all citizens. In diverse regions, it is possible for there to be multiple different primary languages spoken by residents. For example, in many parts of the US, there are sizeable minority populations who speak Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, or other languages more fluently than English.
It is essential that these communities be able to access key information, but translators likely aren’t available for every call. A system that supports multilingual Automated Attendants can take care of the heavy lifting by covering frequently asked questions.
In addition to offering these alternate languages via the starting menu, the system should be able to leverage DNIS-recognition to automatically answer in a specified language when calls come in from a specific number (e.g. a phone number specifically for Spanish language speakers). This allows the court to put the specified number in any websites, paperwork, or other documents published in this alternate language for a more seamless user experience.
Extension and Schedule-Specific Attendants
The ideal Automated Attendant should be able to offer callers different menus based on a wide selection of scheduling options. Not just when the court is open or closed, but also menus for specific days of the week, times, or even specific dates (e.g. a national holiday). This allows an automated “set and forget” system, rather than relying on a staff member to activate different functions at specific points (e.g. turning on holiday messaging), but still grants the flexibility to make manual ad hoc adjustments.
It should also be able to present a range of options when callers connect to specific extensions, rather than simply ringing a phone or going to voicemail. This allows different departments (like the clerk’s office) to have their own “sub-attendants” to suit their needs.
Automated Outgoing Notifications
Jury Duty is a complicated program to manage. Beyond using traditional mail, many court systems also want to be able to reach out to potential jurors via the phone. This sort of message can be used to remind them of upcoming obligations, alert them to schedule changes, or even let them know that they will no longer be necessary to fill an upcoming slot.
In the past, court systems have had employees make outbound notification phone calls. A modern Unified Communications Notification system can utilize a database of jurors’ contact information (and the specifics of their assignments) to send out individually-customized messages automatically. This can be done via phone call or SMS text and allows the court to refocus their resources on more critical functions. Each message can pull dates, times, or other recipient-specific attendance information from the database.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
Automated Attendants have been the bedrock of government phone systems for ages. While they’ve continued to evolve, further increases in convenience and efficiency have come courtesy of Interactive Voice Response, or IVR.
Interactive Voice Response systems utilize text-to-speech technology and database read/write access to provide and collect up-to-the-minute information automatically. With an IVR system in place, callers can:
- Pay fees & fines using a credit card
- Hear the latest scheduling information
- Call in to check their status in the jury pool (whether they need to report the next day)
- Hear announcements specific to their case (if available)
- Schedule appointments
Given that everyone organization has its own unique needs and that those needs may shift over time, it’s vital that any IVR system be easily customizable to suit the needs of the organization using it. Solutions that use proprietary programming systems may not grant the necessary flexibility and can restrict an organization’s ability to adjust as needs evolve.
Harness UC for Greater Efficiency and Citizen Satisfaction
XM Connect is a cost-effective, easy to implement Unified Communications solution that can bring these and other powerful features, such as modern voice mail, Unified Messaging, and mobility functionality, to your existing tech infrastructure without the need of a rip & replace.
Government agencies, school districts, leading universities, major airlines, manufacturers, and other organizations across the US and the world rely on this solution for essential communications. Reach out to us to learn what the system can do for your organization and how it can be customized to suit your unique needs.