The intent was to provide a higher level of customer service for their best customers and Jobbers Warehouse Supply (JPW) needed an IP telephone system that would allow them to prioritize incoming calls from their customer-base. JPW CEO, Tom Marks says 80% of their revenues come from 20% of their clients, and JPW made no apologies for seeking a telephony solution that would facilitate priority treatment for that reigning minority. When a call from a priority customer came through the switchboard, JPW wanted that call promptly routed to a select customer service representative, taking precedence over lower priority calls circulating the system.
JPW is a leader in the automotive aftermarket selling engine parts to machine shops and parts stores all across the U.S. and Canada. With headquarters located in Minneapolis, MN, this engine parts distributor for automotive, marine, heavy duty, and performance markets also maintains three warehouses in Green Bay, WI; Kansas City, MO; and Indianapolis, IN. JPW maintains a multi-million dollar inventory in engine parts. Providing the quickest possible response to the needs of priority customers takes precedence over all other industry demands.
While JPW explored telecom products that would help them achieve their objectives, including proprietary systems by Nortel, Avaya, and NEC; Digium Select Reseller, Tom Schooley, owner of OpenIP Solutions in
St. Paul, presented Digium Switchvox as a viable option. OpenIP Solutions specializes in designing VoIP and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions based on open source technology. These services offer an integrated and scalable result for any size business.
New Solutions to Old Challenges
The basic problem was outdated technology. JPW's older model Nortel Meridian digital PBX had no VoIP capability, and therefore provided no path or application by which customer data could be integrated into the existing IT voice infrastructure; a prerequisite for setting up priority queues. These queues would enable the system to recognize preferred customers by their inbound phone number.
According to Schooley, JPW required a newly designed infrastructure that would replace the existing
digital system with a web-centric, IP-based answer. "There was more to it than buying a new telephone system," says Schooley, "We had to design an infrastructure to support VoIP. Once we accomplished this,
I already knew what product would best suit the feature-sets at the most economical price, but JPW was still shopping around."
Nortel came back to JPW with a proprietary IP option, as did Avaya and NEC; but it came down to a handful of critical pieces: Who could provide the best quality of communication? Who was the most flexible in terms of integrating software applications and data packages to support internal operations? Who could handle the most number of calls with the broadest set of customizable features at the lowest price?
Digium Switchvox Answers the Call!
Well - so to speak! OpenIP Solutions replaced the Nortel voice and data system with the Digium Switchvox SMB305 desktop appliance. Fully expandable to support up to 150 users as the company grows, JPW currently accommodates 25 users, including 12 sales and customer service representatives in Minneapolis, with eight remote phones in Green Bay and Kansas City connected over a VPN (Virtual Private Network). They use SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunks for access to the phone networks for users in these markets.
The VPN provides an easy to use long-distance secured network that saves JPW money by eliminating costly long-distance leased telephone lines, long-distance telephone charges, and offloading support costs.
OpenIP also implemented SIP trunk technology for the remote locations and their employees. This companionable connection between the Switchvox IP PBX and a service provider's application servers, allows VoIP communication between the two, acting like an intermediary. SIP trunks not only facilitate superior call quality, but because they are IP-based, they also save companies an extraordinary amount of money in long-distance telephone charges.
Proven a powerful telecom solution, Digium Switchvox is astonishingly easy to use. The intuitive, user-friendly web interface lets the operator drag and drop calls while chatting online with co-workers, conferring over calls, reciprocating requests, and assigning instructions as well. Several phonebooks, a Salesforce panel, Google news and maps, a "parking lot" for on-hold calls, and access to proprietary software lay at the administrator's fingertips.
Furthermore, OpenIP Solutions integrated customizable database software using SugarCRM, with two inbound call queues. SugarCRM offers a fast, flexible and feature-rich customer service application. The customer service agent simply clicks a selection box next to the customer name in SugarCRM to set a "preferred", "general", or "new customer" status, which determines into which of the queues the calls are routed. General callers move into the non-priority cue and remain on hold while preferred status callers move into the priority cue and take precedence.
Most of the call center and office users make use of either Bria or X-Lite freeware VoIP soft phones with headsets, both made by CounterPath; while warehouse employees use Polycom wireless handsets.
Switchvox Transformed How They Communicate
By implementing Digium's SMB305 PBX, the benefits are many. JPW is able to accomplish their goal of better servicing their priority clients by replacing an outdated digital telecom system with a web-based VoIP solution with no contractual requirements, and by adding another application to their existing VPN. They are receiving a wide range of functionality, some of which they were not expecting in any new system. Caller identification, tracking, and reporting capabilities for instance, help JPW's sales and customer services manager address specific job performance issues thanks to call reports generated after every call.
With goals obtained and objectives solved, the only remaining questions concern price points. According to Schooley, it took OpenIP Solutions 3 weeks to design, replace, and convert the existing digital infrastructure over to IP, install the Switchvox PBX, and integrate it with the SugarCRM software. The completed project cost JPW $15,000. That cost is 30-40% less than comparable proprietary solutions like Nortel, Avaya, or NEC! "From an installation standpoint, it was smooth sailing all the way," Schooley says. "In terms of functionality, Switchvox exceeded expectations; but from a cost perspective, JPW is just another happy Digium customer."