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Leeds Co-Op – Concerned about Spiralling Costs

 

 

Background

Leeds Co-op needed communications for their Head Office, including telephone lines for voice along with internet connectivity and email for staff. For the voice solution they had ordered Meridian from BT. Whilst reviewing their requirements, Leeds realised they had a large number of lines from BT and were unsure what was needed – but knew they had a very high line rental and ongoing call costs. For email IT had planned to give only select staff email and had started to roll-out Microsoft Exchange. Property Department became concerned about IT costs spiralling out of control and the functionality provided by the proposed part-implement solution.


Our Solution

As existing LCR clients of The Phone Co-op, The Phone Co-op was contacted to see if they could provide a solution that would provide the same kind of savings to the telecommunications hardware it was already providing for the calls. They found that for less money they would also gain significant data connectivity and convergence functionality than with the BT / Exchange Solution.

We worked with The Phone Coop and had a week to implement the solution. As well as installing the phone system hardware we also loaded and configured at least four different programs on every PC in the building. To achieve this, we had to be the first onsite and the last to leave. The full convergence solution we implemented over the course of a week included:

  • Installed Communication System: The Network Alchemy system was installed to provide voice calls and secure internet connectivity
  • Installed a CTi Server: installed to provide virus-scanned incoming/outgoing email and fax to/from desk for all staff members
  • Listed redundant lines: We listed all the existing analogue lines that were no longer needed i.e. director’s private lines, fax machines, modems, bank lines as they all became extensions off the system, we also moved all payphones off dedicated lines and added them as extensions onto the system
  • Installed software enabling all staff to benefit from screen popping and email/internet connectivity: TAPI, Phone Manager, email and fax to desk on around 75 PCs (primarily running Windows ’95)
  • Reduced the number of lines from 47 analogue to 20 channels of ISDN saving over £ 3,500 in line rental per annum.

After the installation, Phone Co-op Systems ensured we were available to sort out any issues, queries or connectivity problems including after-hours and weekends. Our standard working hours are 9 – 5:30, but we have worked with the Leeds Co-op IT Manager have working to resolve shop to head office connectivity issues at 7:00pm. This was to ensure Till Data could still be collected when the separate till data routers weren’t talking. The Till support company is meant to provide a 24 hour support service, (which is why they don’t use the Alchemy to Alchemy connection) however when there were problems at a redeveloped site they weren’t contactable so the Alchemy to Alchemy connection had to be used.

With the installation of the Alchemy and CTi Server, the office-wide functionality significantly increased whilst substantially reducing line rental and ongoing costs. The dissemination of information is more efficient and effective, people are easier to contact and phone usage is much more efficient. Staff communications is much easier, more immediate and effective.


Positive Outcome

After the system was customised to Head Office’s required configuration, we have been able to:

  • Reduced line rental by 50%
  • Rationalised phone numbers: they were able to cease over 20 lines
  • Provide a secure and standard method of providing connectivity between Head Office and the shop which helps the IT department support remote users.
  • Back-up route for Till data.
  • Provide all staff have a direct line, reducing the load on the switchboard and means callers to Head Office are answered faster.
  • Provide all staff with email and the ability to receive faxes to desk and able to send faxes electronically, for less than £650
  • Ensure their Staff now know which branch/shop is calling in before answering the phone.
  • Provide a standard Phone Directory – this allows them to easily click and dial to all the branches/shops in the region.
  • Let them implement a policy that all calls must go through the system, thus all calls benefit from LCR.
  • Provide flexible voicemail options make the calls more effective. Out-of-hours calls for Funeral Service and Properties Department are now automatically transferred to the designated recipients mobile phones, rather than telling customers to dial another number.
  • Give the caller the option to ‘press 0’ and be transferred to their mobile phone so they can give their customers better service from their staff’s personal voicemail
  • Allow the Travel Manager to easily forward faxes of special offers he receives to all his Travel Shops receives rather than manually faxing many pieces of paper.

The solution has been so successful, Leeds is continuing to rollout the solution to the Food shops, Funeral parlours, Optical shops and Travel shops. The ability to accommodate the extra shops has resulted in the need to replace the Head Office system with a larger one and reusing their existing system at the Funeral Head Office.


Summary

The implementation of Phone Co-op convergence solution has resulted in extensive initial and ongoing cost savings for the Leeds Head Office and shops. Both verbal and digital communications are much easier and effective and staff are able to provide a better quality service because of it. We continue supplying on-line remote support for Leeds and install the high-quality systems fulfilling the Co-op’s needs.