Technology Meets Business Strategy: A ShoreTel Contact Center Success Story
By Travis Dillard, President & CEO
Many already know that we have a variety of clients that have many different needs. We’ve said it a thousand times – no two businesses are alike. But the common thread among all our clients is the PBX or Contact Center. And yet, technology is only half the battle for what we do. We offer more than just the technological aspects of running a great contact center and communications platform. We look at the business inside and out, and configure a system that doesn’t just “work” but actually makes the business run better and lead to cost savings.
For instance, we recently had one of Oregon’s largest healthcare clinics contact us for an evaluation. Not only did we find the right platform, we designed a system that would address five key challenges.
1. Old, Expensive Technology: This healthcare clinic was limping along with 20-year-old phone systems that were expensive to maintain and provided little business value to the organization.
2. Business Consolidation: A portion of the organization’s growth had been attributed to an acquisition strategy. The leadership team was pushing to consolidate and streamline business functions across the company. As such, the systems were “siloed” and provided little in the way of station-to-station dialing, inter-branch call flow, and other integration possibilities.
3. Flexibility and Ease of Administration: With evolving business requirements, this healthcare clinic’s technology and communications platforms needed the ability to adapt to change. A core requirement was the ability for IT personnel to easily make company-wide changes to the communications system. The existing legacy systems presented multiple, complex administration consoles with little flexibility. A single image and holistic system was required – complexity was not.
4. Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity: Like most healthcare organizations, DR/BC initiative was priority number one. The current phone systems had multiple points of failure, were old and failing, and offered nothing in the way of redundancy. Any event, from a failed CPU, inclement weather, or dial tone outages, would result in an extended and major disruption in communications service. Literally with lives on the line, this was clearly not acceptable.
5. Roaming Staff: Like most large healthcare organizations, the healthcare clinic’s medical staff needed the ability to move from office to office easily and seamlessly, taking their communications “presence” voicemail, and DID with them.
After undergoing a thorough evaluation journey alongside the client, we developed simple strategies that led to cost savings, better business continuity, remote opportunities for staff and improved data and business intelligence.
· Legacy PBX Integration: The biggest challenge was to not effect day-to-day business as much as possible. To aid in this, Inflow integrated ShoreTel with the existing PBX at the corporate office to maintain station-to-station dialing and other features between systems while the ShoreTel system rolled out in phases.
· Branch Offices: Inflow implemented distributed ShoreTel Voice Switches, a few analog phone lines, IP phones, and voice application servers across the organization. Although a true single-system image, this configuration enabled local branch survivability for voice processing, voicemail, and dial tone.
· Offsite Data Center: The system’s Headquarter Server, which handles web administration and other tasks, was deployed in an offsite data center. Dual SIP trunks, provisioned to service the entire organization, were terminated into the data center and the corporate office. The SIP trunks can fail back and forth to each other, providing dial tone and geo-redundancy. Last, spare “N+1” virtualized voice switches were spun up. Should any production appliance-based voice switch on the network fail, the virtual spare switches in the data center could take over call processing duties for that site.
· Contact Center and Analytics: ShoreTel’s Contact Center application was implemented and configured to provide advanced call routing, agent tools, and supervisor tools for a newly-minted, centralized scheduling department. Inflow further enhanced the solution by adding their own web-based, all-inclusive reporting and analytics package, Inflow Analytics.
· Big Time Cost Savings: By leveraging ShoreTel’s single-system architecture and SIP trunks, the healthcare clinic could eliminate a multitude of PRIs and analog trunks throughout the organization, which led to significant savings. The simplicity of administrating the system also led to cost savings:
· Business Continuity During Inclement Weather: Recently, for the first time in over 20 years, the clinic had to shut down all locations due to dangerous winter weather conditions. Unfortunately the clinic had no time to inform the patients about the cancellations. Because ShoreTel is so easy to manage, IT personnel could change greetings and re-route various clinic and departmental call flows to handle inbound calls and nurse triage lines. The best part was they did this all remotely from their homes.
To add to this, a recent major flood forced the healthcare clinic to close their downtown office for many weeks. Within hours, they were able to move physicians to other offices and allow them to take their extension, voicemail, and DIDs with them. Fortunately, when full physician schedules are critical to business, they didn’t miss a beat.
· Work from Home: The healthcare clinic is currently in the process of moving their corporate office out of the downtown area 20 miles south. This is going to result in a much longer commute for many employees. For this reason, management wanted toallow employees to work from home one day a week to ease the commute pain and improve morale. With ShoreTel, employees, including contact center agents, can easily take a soft phone home with them for the day.
· Dramatically Improved Data and Business Intelligence: All Inflow ShoreTel support customers receive Inflow Analytics, a cloud-based advanced reporting and analytics software package. It augments the built-in ShoreTel reporting by offering a single pane of glass, built exclusively for ShoreTel reporting and Business Intelligence.
If you’re wondering what communications platform to use, keep in mind that it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Choosing the right platform and designing the right configuration will help to truly advance your communications. All businesses are different, but most businesses have ever-changing business needs, need solid Business Continuity for a multitude of failure scenarios, a rich feature set to meet advanced user needs, and the analytics and business intelligence to arm management with data they need to make decisions. The technology and the strategy have to go hand-in-hand to truly meet and exceed your communications expectations.