Navigant saves money with VoIP

A corporate travel agency is using Mitel’s contact centre and teleworker applications to cut back on real estate and long-distance costs – and to retain its largely female employee base.

“Our business is predominately female-driven at the front line, so it allowed us to get high-skilled associates who wanted to be able to put their children on the bus in the morning,” said Sherry Saunders, vice-president of national operations with Navigant in Mississauga, Ont.

The company was struggling to retain its most valued and experienced consultants when they got married, had children or moved to a different city, said Lee Garbig, strategic account manager with solution provider Delphi Solutions in Markham, Ont. While Navigant previously allowed some employees to work from home, there was no way of determining their success rate or allowing them to collaborate effectively with the rest of the team.

“We do not run as a call centre where you call in and get one out of 300 associates,” said Saunders. “We purposely don’t run our business that way because we believe travel is a personal relationship type of business.” Front-line associates are a large component of its cost structure – more than 50 per cent – so Navigant wanted to make these associates as efficient as possible without compromising service to corporate customers. It also wanted to meet its 85 per cent first-time response live agent call-answer guarantee.

But the company was dealing with a mish-mash of different products and a legacy Mitel PBX at head office. “It was very old technology,” said Garbig. “The business model was screaming for (an upgrade) and they had no standard – each office was an island, connected with the PSTN.”

When Navigant started upgrading individual switches to the Mitel 3300, the company realized there were opportunities to create a more “hands-on warm and fuzzy” approach to corporate travel, said Saunders. Navigant selected Mitel Teleworker Solution combined with Mitel Customer Interaction Solutions to allow agents to work from remote locations, while providing access to the same applications as head office.

“We showed them the benefits of moving forward with today’s contact centre customer relationship management software in an environment where they wouldn’t have to forklift,” said Garbig. Because Mitel’s software-based applications support legacy hardware, he added, Navigant was able to retain some of its old infrastructure, while starting to use voice over IP immediately.

As a result, the company was able to shut down one of its two Toronto offices. “With the switch capability and VoIP, it allowed us to get rid of that leasing cost, which was fairly substantial, and yet simply move those associates into their home office environments,” said Saunders.

Savings opportunity
The two Toronto offices were previously linked through a long-distance service provider, which was running at about $1,200 to $1,300 per month. “In our study we were close to $200,000 over a three-year term for cost-saving opportunities,” she said, which included savings on individual phone lines, maintenance and real estate.

The value of IP comes from applications, said Dave Spence, marketing manager of mobility solutions with Mitel. Its Teleworker Solution was designed to allow employees to unplug the phone they use at the office, take it home or to any broadband connection in the world, plug it in, and it will work exactly the same way as it would if they were at the office, with 100 per cent of the features.

“You don’t need to buy a special phone or load up any special software,” he said. “That really resonates with customers because they don’t have to learn anything new.” They can take their four-digit extension with them wherever they go, he said, so they only have to give out one number to customers.

Contact Center Management routes individual calls to the appropriate team. Priority routing is used for customers who prefer to work with a specific agent.

A lot of large call centres struggle to make sure they’re providing the customer service levels required for the delivery of corporate travel services, said Saunders.

“Probably 75 per cent of our volume still comes in via phone and we’ve been able to maintain the customer service and productivity offering that you would normally see in large call centre environments,” she said, “and yet we haven’t had to move in that direction.”

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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