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How Vicwest escaped the ‘Let me transfer you’ nightmare

A leading North American supplier of exterior building products offers some insight into the SIP trunking transition


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Vicwest has been around since 1905. While part of our longevity can be attributed to our high quality line of products, the primary reason we’ve been around as long as we have, in my opinion, is a result of our loyal customers—and the relationship we have with them. So when our outdated phone systems were putting a strain on that relationship, we knew something had to be done.

Our Edmonton office is our main telephony hub for Western Canada—and the office most customers would previously be directed to when they dialled our 1-800 number. The problem was, if these customers were looking for a contact at a different office, our reception desk had a difficult time transferring the calls. Instead of simply dialling them through, they would have to give the customer their desired contact’s extension number and then transfer them to a different reception desk at a different office, where the process would begin all over again.

We were bouncing customers around between our Edmonton, Saskatoon and Delta offices. To add to that, our existing Layer 2 solution was out-of-date, very unreliable and our telco provider couldn’t offer the level of support we needed.

Eventually, our Western Regional Manager approached me about the problem. We were already using Allstream’s MPLS network and I knew the company would be able to build on that existing foundation to help us out with our phone issues. So I asked the Regional Manager to put together a list of challenges he had with the existing system and sent them to Allstream. Allstream came back immediately with a number of suggestions, and we ended up going with their SIP Trunking solution.

We decided to start small with a three-site pilot, rolling out SIP Trunking to the Edmonton, Saskatoon and Delta offices. Allstream started by installing Avaya phone systems in all three offices. While the shift from old telephone sets to a PC-based soft console system was a big change for us, Allstream’s training made the transition virtually seamless. They trained our employees on reception and overall call handling, and in the end everyone embraced the new system completely because it was so much more efficient than the old one.

With SIP Trunking now in place, I can safely say our customer service has improved tenfold, while our costs have been significantly slashed. In addition to eliminating redundant toll-free lines, analog phone lines and several PRIs, we were also able to better allocate our reception resources at our Delta and Saskatoon offices.

If I have one piece of advice for another company looking to implement SIP Trunking, or any telco solution, it would be to you do your homework. Take the time to really consider what’s involved with something like SIP Trunking, the business challenges you need to address, as well as what’s already working with your existing solution. Sometimes people tend to reinvent the wheel when they don’t have to and functionality can suffer as a result.

That being said, having a partner like Allstream to educate and offer suggestions can take a lot of the weight off your shoulders and help you find a solution that meets your needs.

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