Sandwell Leisure Trust - Cloud based, hosted voice call handling solution

Sandwell Leisure Trust runs fourteen leisure centres across Birmingham.  Like many trusts within the sector, they need to maximise limited resources to focus on call handling, membership bookings and general enquiries to help deliver strong customer service across their portfolio of sites.


They didn't have access to telephone call reporting or call monitoring yet both were key requirements to enable managers to be able to identify pressure points as and when they occurred.

Sandwell picture of children under water

  • Demanding call volumes putting a huge strain on existing staff and systems
  • Customer service levels compromised
  • Peak times can see forty to sixty customers queuing at the front desk with calls backing up
  • Multiple telephony systems, dropped calls and long delays when rectifying call faults
  • No ability to report on call handling
  • No centralised phone system or data network that connected sites


  • Bespoke Intelligent and logical call routing plan
  • Centralised platform providing one number for all sites
  • Inbound call reporting

“Not only has call productivity increased, the return on investment is visibly noticeable. Active visits to leisure centres are up by 12.5% to £1.8 million, compared with the previous year and membership figures are up 7% to 40,644.  Gym attendances are also up by 21.7%, fitness classes by 25.5% and swimming lessons by 9% (annual report 2014/2015).”  Mark Wildman, Marketing and Business Manager at Sandwell Leisure


  • Simplified communications – All inbound calls are now routed via a centralised 0300 number with full call reporting available. Telephone numbers for each leisure site are no longer advertised
  • Cost-effective – the 0300 number is the same price as a local call and includes bundled minutes for local calls as well as for mobile minutes versus the 0845 number previously in place
  • Staff productivity has improved – call monitoring has dramatically increased productivity
  • More targeted marketing - accurate reporting on callers’ geographic locations
  • Enhanced customer service - calls can now be queued and monitored with Sandwell’s own music and marketing messages played
  • Change control via web portal is available to SLT staff
  • Ability to forward calls easily and quickly to another location in an emergency


Class Networks introduced an inbound call system with IVR (Interactive Voice Response).  This allowed customers to interact with SLT’s phone system via their telephone keypad so they could service their own enquiries by following the recorded dialogue. 

SLT controls the portal on the inbound telephone system so they can log on, make changes and target a specific number straightaway if there is a particular fault, making it a very intuitive and reactive system.  If any site goes down, calls can be immediately diverted so communication is seamless as far as the customers are concerned.

SLT adopted one unique 0300 number, replacing local Direct Dial In (DDI) numbers,  to provide customers with a single, trusted point of contact. The cost of calling 0300 numbers is the same as calling a standard landline number, be it from a landline or mobile, with the added benefit of being able to use bundled mobile/landline minutes.

Value of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Call Handling with Class Networks

  • The multiple IVR options on the phone system were leading to customer frustration and customers were often hanging up rather than waiting to click through the automated options.
  • Call handling was stripped back to basics to deliver targeted and logical routing
  • Calls to the leisure centres were grouped into geographical options, cutting back to only two IVR options to simplify operations
  • Customers can pick which leisure centre to contact with the busier centres listed first
  • A queuing system is in place with targeted audio marketing and social media messages relayed
  • Up to twenty people can be in the queue at any one time (can queue up to 99 SLT choose 20). The system knows not to queue more callers if there are only one or two staff operating the reception desk
  • Customers are directed to the SLT website where they can book online, join up and leave feedback, if they choose not to hold
  • The call logger also allows SLT to see what part of Birmingham the calls are coming in from, enabling Sandwell to accurately target their marketing campaigns by specific area.

Impressive Results

The old DDI numbers were not able to log calls: now that they go through a single 0300 number, reporting is far more accurate.  The leisure centres’ Duty Managers can obtain regular stats with very specific call analysis, based on how and when teams are answering calls.  It enables them to analyse pressure points: for example, if there is a higher volume of callers and members at the reception desks between 5pm and 8pm, they can put on extra resources at that time.  

The inbound call solution is bespoke and very flexible, allowing SLT to route calls through to the back office at pinch points and setting up hunt groups to maximise internal resource. The number of calls answered across all the centres is now averaging 90%.

Support from Class Networks

 “We have built up a very good relationship with Class Networks and they always respond to issues proactively, even giving technical support out of hours and at week-ends. They provide cost-effective solutions and I like their consultative approach, always finding a solution to a problem. We rely heavily on Class to manage our phone system, maintain and support it, leaving us to focus on what we do best: actual sales and booking enquiries.” Mark Wildman

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