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Colac Otway Shire Council Case Study

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Case Studies

ShoreTel UC and Contact Center capabilities tick all the boxes for the Colac Otway Shire Council

Legacy system negatively impacts responsiveness

Colac Otway Shire Council is a local government authority west of Melbourne. With an ageing, disparate network, the council had lost confidence in the stability and functionality of its telephony environment.

Finding a cost-effective UC solution

Rather than simply replace its ageing telephony infrastructure with new products, the council was looking for a UC solution that would make it more effective, more efficient, and able to provide services to the community in a more cost-effective manner.

The council received a range of proposals, and selected ShoreTel as the ideal technical solution. “The ShoreTel system provided all the communications capabilities we needed – the user features and usability, ECC, and the ability to record calls,” says Rick Morrow, manager, information systems for the Colac Otway Shire Council. “ShoreTel gave us voicemail, which we’d never had before, and the ability to manage the system centrally, at the user level. It ticked all the boxes for us.”

The council also required an on-premises solution, rather than a cloud-based service, due to the cost and potential unreliability of Internet services across the region. The system also needed to have no single point of failure, to ensure that, in case of a network outage, accident, or hardware fault, the telephony environment would keep operating.

“We wanted to make sure we weren’t in a position where we had one phone system in one office and if that failed we were all offline. The technical architecture of the ShoreTel system enabled us to provide the services that we needed from a user viewpoint, but technically to have equipment in movable areas that had some really good resilience and redundancy capabilities,” explains Morrow.

ShoreTel UC saves the council $20,000 per year

The ShoreTel UC and ECC platform has been deployed across the council’s 13 sites, using ShoreTel Voice Switches, including an extra switch for network-based N+1 redundancy. The IP telephony network consists of ShoreTel IP phones and some analog extensions, Operator, Professional Communicator client licenses, ECC Agent licenses, and a Supervisor license. ShoreTel Call Recorder has also been deployed for additional contact center functionality to record and archive voice communications.

While the council was primarily looking for the functionality a ShoreTel UC and contact solution could provide, an added benefit has been cost savings. Its fixed service cost has been reduced, saving the council an estimated $20,000 per year; annual line rental costs have been slashed with 40 ISDN and PSTN lines decommissioned; and no more STD calls between remote offices – all calls are now internal.

Car crash tests ShoreTel business continuity

While the council hadn’t intended for its new UC solution to provide business continuity capability, a car accident tested ShoreTel’s capabilities.

At the council’s main office in Colac, a pickup truck lost control and crashed into the building. That wall was actually Morrow’s office: “That was my office and I was sitting at my desk. I am now providing an IT drive-through service!”

“THE SHORETEL SYSTEM PROVIDED ALL THE COMMUNICATIONS CAPABILITIES WE NEEDED – THE USER FEATURES AND USABILITY, ECC, AND THE ABILITY TO RECORD CALLS.”

Rick Morrow, Manager, Information Systems
Colac Otway Shire Council

As a result of the accident, the office was evacuated immediately and required the relocation of 60-70 staff, including the council’s contact center.

“By 8:30 a.m. when the office opened, we were able to have our contact center relocated to another building. Our agents were operational with all the same services they would have used normally, and using the full suite of contact center capabilities. We wouldn’t have been able to do it with the old system,” says Morrow.

Morrow’s information services team was able to relocate key council staff to other offices, and enabled others to work from home. With users able to take their extensions with them and “hot desk” from other locations, there was minimal impact on operations and the council was able to use the car accident as a live test of its business continuity arrangements.

ShoreTel ECC provides a more flexible solution

ShoreTel’s flexibility has had longer-term consequences for the council’s contact center operations. It wasn’t something the council had assessed as a main factor in choosing a solution, but it has definitely been an added benefit.

“We discovered the flexibility in ShoreTel to have our contact center agents wherever we want to have them – they don’t have to be where they normally are; they can be at home if they want,” states Morrow.

While the majority of the council’s contact center agents are in the main center of Colac, one of its agents is now in the council’s office on the coast at Apollo Bay. Out of peak season, when the permanent population is only 1,000, the customer service staff member in the office in Apollo Bay might receive only one or two visitors.

“When we put in the ShoreTel system, we actually assigned that staff member as an agent for the contact center. So when there are no enquiries at the office, that staff member can become an agent working for Apollo Bay, taking calls. Then, if somebody approaches to the counter, it is easy to switch into release mode to service that customer, then switch back into the contact center afterward,” says Morrow.

“WE DISCOVERED THE FLEXIBILITY IN SHORETEL TO HAVE OUR CONTACT CENTER AGENTS WHEREVER WE WANT TO HAVE THEM – THEY DON’T HAVE TO BE WHERE THEY NORMALLY ARE; THEY CAN BE AT HOME IF THEY WANT.”

The council has plans “on the radar” to deploy ShoreTel’s Mobility solution, enabling its staff the capability to extend the functionality of enterprise unified communications to smartphones and tablets. “We recognize the benefits and the potential opportunities that mobility will bring. However, before we can implement, we need to build a more robust Wi-Fi service,” concludes Morrow.

CHALLENGE:

  • With offices geographically spread across the region, Colac Otway Shire Council was managing and operating an ageing and disparate telephony environment with 15 separate PABXs, leading to increasingly inefficient and unreliable communications.

SOLUTION:

  • The council deployed an N+1 redundant ShoreTel Unified Communications (UC) platform incorporating desktop phones and software clients, with additional conferencing and instant messaging capabilities. It has also implemented ShoreTel Enterprise Contact Center (ECC) for 20 agents, incorporating call recording functionality.

BENEFITS:

  • Provides the foundation to deliver better services
  • More cost-effective
  • Resilient and redundant infrastructure
  • Business continuity capabilities