Communicating with customers on their terms, with IP telephony

Monday, 19 September, 2011

IT solutions provider CompNow has replaced its traditional phone system with a VoIP platform, allowing the company to integrate its telephony into its data network and providing the company with more sophisticated call management.

CompNow is an Australian-owned business, providing IT solutions for retail, corporate, government, education and pro video. It is the largest Apple reseller in Australia. The company has several sites, from its head office in South Melbourne, warehouse in Malvern, to retail stores in Geelong and Crows Nest, and university outlets at UNSW, RMIT, Monash University and UTS.

The company’s customers include consumers, businesses and students, all of which require different methods of communication, at different times.

The company’s existing, traditional phone system was ageing and restrictive, both in functionality and the ability to expand. Any features added to the base system - such as voicemail to email - were considered optional extras, further increasing the cost of telephony.

“CompNow reviewed its existing phone system and decided there had to be a more cost-effective and contemporary system on the market,” says Robert Ruigrok, CFO at CompNow.

Qtec Systems provided CompNow with a Digium Switchvox VoIP telephony platform. This included professional services for configuration, ongoing support, and system management and upgrades.

The platform is a pure IP PBX, enabling CompNow to integrate the phone system partially or totally to its data network. It delivers functionality such as voicemail and tax to email, conference bridging, call recording, call queues, interactive voice response (IVR) functionality and a suite of unified communications features.

The implementation included one AA305 server, located in CompNow’s South Melbourne head office, another AA305 in Crows Nest and an AA65 server in the company’s Malvern warehouse. The Geelong and university sites have handsets that are connected back to the central IP PBX at South Melbourne. There are more than 125 IP handsets operational across CompNow’s warehouse, offices and stores.

CompNow also had a GSM gateway installed enabling calls to be made from the company’s locations to mobile users as mobile calls, reducing expensive fixed to mobile network tariffs.

Given the large volume of calls coming into CompNow’s sales and support divisions, the system was built, configured and tested before implementation began at each site. Phones were migrated after hours, which meant the company experienced little to no downtime and business risks were minimised.

Through VoIP, the system lets CompNow internally route calls between offices based on customer requirement and volume of traffic, helping to reduce telephony costs. All calls between head office, the warehouse and stores are achieved by simply dialling an extension number and travel via the company’s internal network. Converging voice and data onto a single common network also means less equipment and easier integration for IT staff.

The platform is customisable, letting CompNow manage phone calls and integrate with its other business applications such as their customer relationship management (CRM) system.

The system provides more sophisticated call handling, which can be centrally or remotely managed, and can accommodate the requirements of the company’s various customers, such as the ability to redirect calls during school holidays or in busy periods.

Ruigrok says the solution “gives CompNow the ability to intelligently handle our customers’ calls based on their needs. For example, a student at RMIT can easily ring a dedicated number and be directed to a local person, a call centre or IVR for assistance.”

Making moves, adds and changes within the system is now simpler and doesn’t require a technician to be on-site. The system enhances mobility beyond traditional dial-up networks and future-proofs the network by supporting web-enabled applications through the phone system.

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