Morristown Utility Systems Case Study
ShoreTel UC powers up Morristown Utility Systems to prepare for new market expansion
New business opportunity, tired phone system
After a decision to enter the entertainment and Internet communication market, the utility realized its aging Avaya phone system could not keep up with the increased call volume.
A scalable, resilient, and reliable system
For Morristown Utility Systems (MUS), a local government commission that operates as an enterprise fund of the city of Morristown in Tennessee, this means responding to market demands rapidly and cost-efficiently, and the recent business decision to diversify its offerings and enter the fiber-to-the-home market with innovative entertainment, Internet, and communication products and services made perfect sense. But the decision resulted in the need for operational changes.
“The volume of calls tripled, plus the length of calls went from an average of two minutes to more than 20 minutes, due to the complexity of the fiber-to-the-home business,” explains Mike Fawbush, information systems manager for MUS. “The old system only offered automated call distribution, and agents had to notice the light on the phone to know that someone was on the line waiting. We were getting at least four or five complaints a day from frustrated residents unable to get through to a live person.”
In addition, the old system had three independent PBXs, in three separate sites, but calls could not be transferred to any one site in emergency situations. Since the city depends on the utility company for power and water, especially during any type of emergency or outage, MUS needs a communications system that is highly resilient and reliable.
With just two people on his IT team, Fawbush also needed a communications system that was easy to maintain and manage. After management approval, he issued an RFP and, at the recommendation of local reseller Advanced Communications, he invited ShoreTel to respond, along with three other major vendors.
“Demonstrations showed that the management of the other systems would be a nightmare compared to the ShoreTel UC system,” says Fawbush. “Plus, ShoreTel met all of our requirements: management ease, reliability, functionality, and flexibility, at a much lower price point.
ShoreWare Enterprise Contact Center provides much needed business agility
In addition to the redundancy and failover capabilities provided by the distributed architecture of the ShoreTel UC system, Fawbush and his team were particularly impressed with the ShoreTel® Enterprise Contact Center application (ECC). The rich functionality in the ShoreTel ECC application provides multiple levels of insight and features that enable organizations to respond quickly to changing customer needs.
“The previous call center wasn’t really a call center but simply a group of about seven people responsible for answering the phones,” states Fawbush. “We had no advanced call features, and no way of knowing why people were calling, simply that they were calling and we were not always answering in time.”
MUS upper management approved the purchase of a ShoreTel UC system, and Advanced Communications helped MUS transition from copper to PRI lines. The cutover to the new ShoreTel UC system took less than three hours.
Flexibility of ECC Provides Customizable Customer Experience
Two of the three sites use the ECC application, with a total of 25 agents. The flexibility of the ECC application means MUS can easily accommodate agents at two sites, which helps MUS balance call volume and help improve customer service with minimal wait times.
“THE OLD SYSTEM ONLY OFFERED AUTOMATED CALL DISTRIBUTION, AND AGENTS HAD TO NOTICE THE LIGHT ON THE PHONE TO KNOW THAT SOMEONE WAS ON THE LINE WAITING WE WERE GETTING AT LEAST FOUR OR FIVE COMPLAINTS A DAY FROM FRUSTRATED RESIDENTS UNABLE TO GET THROUGH TO A LIVE PERSON.”
Mike Fawbush, Information Systems Manager
Morristown Utility Systems
The reporting functionality in ECC has enabled MUS to make important changes to improve customer service. Now the system reports on what people are calling about so Fawbush can establish separate groups to answer customer service and technical support calls. This connects callers to the right person to answer their questions, resolve issues on the first call, and improves MUS agent productivity.
In addition, the wallboard functionality provides everyone with a quick glance at how well the center is performing with current call statistics posted on a large screen. Agents can now see the number of calls waiting in the queue and manage call volume as a team, instead of relying on a solitary blinking light on the phone.
In addition to the ECC application, staff at MUS is also using ShoreTel Communicator, integrated with Microsoft Outlook®, which means that directory updates are available to everyone on the system immediately, and the utility no longer needs to maintain and publish a paper phone book.
ShoreTel’s ease of management saves big time for a small team
For Fawbush, the ShoreTel UC system’s ease of management has been a huge advantage to his small IT team. There are no special technical skills required to manage the system and the time savings are enormous.
“It used to take us at least 35 minutes to move a phone,” says Fawbush. “Now it takes no more than two minutes, and I don’t need a programmer or telecommunications expert on staff. I used to spend 25 percent of my time on the phones, and now that’s down to less than 5 percent. That translates to more time to spend on revenue-generating projects.”
“Having no previous PBX experience, the simplicity of the ShoreTel UC system allows me to manage it with ease and confidence,” explains Chelsey Holt, information systems specialist for MUS.
“The ShoreTel UC system is a real power house,” concludes Fawbush. “In addition to exceptional reliability, we’ve seen huge time savings and are paying about the same amount as our old system for far greater functionality. We’re now looking for ways to further improve productivity, including integrating our billing system to make it quicker and easier for customers to pay. This level of flexibility has improved our business agility and means we’re well positioned for future market changes.”
“IN ADDITION TO EXCEPTIONAL RELIABILITY, WE’VE SEEN HUGE TIME SAVINGS AND ARE PAYING ABOUT THE SAME AMOUNT AS OUR OLD SYSTEM FOR FAR GREATER FUNCTIONALITY.”
New business ventures necessitated the need for a highly available communications system, which meant replacing the aging analog phones with modern, feature-rich, and resilient IP-based communications.
The ShoreTel UC solution included ShoreTel Voice Switches, ShoreTel T1 Switches, ShoreTel IP Phones, ShoreTel Enterprise Contact Center, and ShoreTel Communicator applications.
- Dramatic improvement in customer service
- Scalable to meet higher volumes
- Ease of system management
- Increased time for higher-value projects