Simple day to day management
The new system is far easier to manage than the old one, making moves, adds and changes extremely simple to implement. From Ross’s perspective, having one type of handset across the whole business was also a major step forward, and the thing that he liked about the ipcortex solution was that he was not restricted on choice of handset, allowing him to choose the technology which suited the firm best, as he explains:
“Previously we had numerous different types of handset, so there were many ways to transfer calls, for example – which was very difficult for new starters. We also had to maintain lots of sets of documentation. What we now have is just one set of documentation and one easy way for users to do things. The admin is much less painful than before and we spend far less time managing and updating the system, which makes the associated cost far lower as well.”
Useful features and functionality
With the previous system being so limited, even things like voicemail and audio conferencing were new to Shulmans, as was having handsets which can be operated using context sensitive screens – whereas before, they did not even have caller display. These types of features are making a huge difference to the business already, as is the inbuilt call recording functionality which is especially useful for a legal firm. Other features which are also adding value include the audio conferencing facility, and the ease with which things like speed dials and call queuing can be managed.
“The main thing that swung it for us was the amount of functionality that we got for the price,” continues Ross. “The call queuing, for example, was a really good one for us. We have an informal call centre environment which receives more than 500 calls a day, and the fact that we can put all of the call queues onto a visual wallboard is extremely useful.”
High availability (HA)
The solution is based upon a pair of identical synchronised VoIPCortex IP PBX systems units which are configured to take over from each other in the event of a failure. With the old system being so unreliable, staff and customers had actually got used to the fact that the system went down regularly, but this was not a situation which could be allowed to continue, as Ross explains:
“If you’re taking 500 calls a day in one of your departments, then that could be 500 people getting a negative impression if the system fails. It’s one of the key things that we wanted to address, and the high availability solution was all part of that. It would have been preferable for us to have HA no matter what the solution was, but it was a question of economics. With ipcortex we were able to include HA because it wasn’t as expensive as other solutions we looked at, which was a real benefit. We were able to buy that resiliency for the same price as a standard solution might have cost from another supplier and that was a key part of our decision as well.”
The new solution also includes resilience in terms of external connectivity, as it is connected via both ISDN30e and by SIP Trunks. If an ISDN line goes down, the VoIPCortex PBX simply switches seamlessly to using the SIP Trunks, with users not affected at all. This also gives Shulmans the option to move to a full SIP-based solution in the future.
“The failover we already have is a really good feature,” adds Ross. “But we plan to switch completely in the next two years, and now we have the kit to support that. Because we’ll have already been using SIP for failover, we will be able to complete the migration process when we know that our confidence and comfort levels are there, and it’s a suitable time to move on to the next level. That’s very appealing, as are the cost savings.”
Customer service benefits
One of the key benefits for Shulmans’ customers has been the improvement in the call centre functionality. The firm is governed by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority, and whilst there are no specific regulations for phone systems, the Authority operates what it calls ‘outcomes focused regulation’ and one of the outcomes which Shulmans has to achieve is ‘a high level of client care’.
With the VoIPCortex IP PBX in place, inbound calls are now handled more efficiently and there is far more transparency around the performance of the people who are handling those calls, as Ross concludes:
“We get daily reports showing who is answering how many calls, what the average wait time is and so on. We work to SLAs for our clients, and now we now have the intelligence to make sure we are keeping to these. Something as simple as the wallboard means that supervisors can look up and see if there all calls queuing and yet people available. It’s that simple. The new system makes it better for customers as we are able to answer more calls and deal with people’s enquiries more quickly.
We’ve been really pleased with the whole experience, and the ‘hand holding’ and attention we got from ipcortex, and from Westcom, was first rate. In summary, we think you’ve got great products and that you’re a great company!”