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Portland Water District Case Study

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Case Studies

Portland Water District discovers how fluid ShoreTel’s VoIP solution can be during unexpected events

District pours water on aging system

With an aging PBX system, the organization needed to gauge whether or not it would support customers in case of a disaster, and decided it was time to make a change.

Disaster recovery and ease of use is a priority

The Portland Water District in Maine provides water, wastewater, and environmental services to 11 greater Portland communities. The organization’s 190 employees serve more than 190,000 people.

After the RFP was issued, PWD looked closely at solutions from Avaya, Nortel, Cisco, and ShoreTel. Priority was placed on disaster recovery capabilities and ease of use and management. After a demonstration, the PWD selection team was impressed with how easy ShoreTel was to set up, its cost-effective nature, and that it could be easily integrated into the existing network infrastructure. A unanimous decision was made by the water district selection team to choose a ShoreTel VoIP solution.

“We were impressed with ShoreTel because it met all our needs—ease of use and administration, flexible integration to other IT systems, customer self-service with IVR, budget and portability,” says Peter Cutrone, director of information services for the Portland Water District (PWD). “We can set up the ShoreTel system anywhere if we’re ever faced with a disaster or emergency.”

ShoreTel’s advanced capabilities enable refreshingly effective customer service

ShoreTel Enterprise Contact Center (ECC) provides the PWD’s customer service call center with advanced routing and multiple service options to customize the experience for callers and powerful tools that ensure the right agent answers each call quickly and effectively. Advanced routing capabilities route calls to the most appropriate call center agent based on calendar, service level, priority, and other criteria.

ShoreTel ECC also provides advanced real-time management and historical measurement tools that enable PWD managers to ensure agents are delivering consistent service. Performance and statistical information lets the company know how the center is performing and what needs to be done for further improvement.

“Enterprise Contact Center has allowed us to prioritize emergency calls and implement some unique call flow structures to route calls to different locations throughout the day,” explains Cutrone. “We’re able to process emergency calls much
faster now. We also appreciate the ability of the system to record calls, especially calls regarding dangerous situations.”

ShoreTel also allowed PWD to implement an integrated voice response (IVR) system with its Oracle database that allows customers to call in for automated information on their accounts. The system also provides automatic messages to update citizens about things like ongoing repair work, water leaks, and outage updates, freeing up customer service reps during heavy call times.

Productivity levels climb

With the ShoreTel system in place, PWD employees across all four locations are now on the same phone and voicemail system, using four-digit dialing to reach co-workers—even those working from remote sites—and dialing them by name.

The ability of the ShoreTel system to track phone calls, export and distribute original voicemail messages to one person or a group of people, and keep a running history of calls into each number is helpful in continually monitoring and improving customer service.

“WE WERE IMPRESSED WITH SHORETEL BECAUSE IT MET ALL OUR NEEDS—EASE OF USE AND ADMINISTRATION, FLEXIBLE INTEGRATION TO OTHER IT SYSTEMS, CUSTOMER SELF-SERVICE WITH IVR, BUDGET AND PORTABILITY.”

Peter Cutrone, Director of Information Services
Portland Water District

“With ShoreTel, we have better information on the calls we receive and how long they take,” says Chad Davis, network manager for the PWD. “This information is valuable in helping us analyze our staffing needs and managing the customer service group. Users also appreciate the ability to save voicemail messages and forward them to groups of co-workers.”

ShoreTel Personal Call Manager gives PWD employees the equivalent of a desktop PBX—a powerful, all-purpose tool for managing voice communications. Employees have unified messaging so voicemail shows up in their email box and desktop call control allows them to control the way their phones work.

As disappointed as Frasnelly was about Cisco’s undelivered promises, he’s thoroughly pleased with ShoreTel’s results. Least-cost routing will conservatively save PremierWest Bank $2,000 per month when fully deployed. It will save $1,000 a month alone by publishing a single number for voice and fax for all branches, and then using fax redirection to redirect the fax, so they can disconnect existing lines that are dedicated to fax machines.

Intuitive management features that aren’t watered down

ShoreTel Director is a browser-based management interface that allows Cutrone and Davis to gain access to the system from anywhere on the network. Through this browser, every site and feature can be managed, including the voicemail, automated attendant, and desktop applications. Adding a new user is a simple matter of clicking “add new” and entering the user’s name, which creates a new mailbox and automatically updates the centralized database, voice switches, automated attendant dial-by-name and number feature, and online directories—all in a matter of seconds.

“The ease of use and administration of the ShoreTel system is one of the most exciting things about it,” states Davis. “It’s easy and intuitive to complete moves, adds, and changes, without an extensive phone system background. We’ve saved
thousands of dollars by taking the management of these things in-house.”

Because ShoreTel supports workgroups, PWD can organize its departments to enhance efficiency and also provides the organization with basic reporting capabilities to help it measure call volume and make staffing and schedule changes as necessary.

ShoreTel quenches the water district’s thirst for a modern phone system

The Portland Water District is happy with its decision to go with VoIP from ShoreTel. “We’ve been in production for 10 months and people are still coming up and commenting positively about the ShoreTel system,” says Cutrone. “We’ve also
learned how easy it is to work around problems – we were able to keep up communications during a recent lightning storm, which we probably would not have been able to do before.”

“THIS WAS ONE OF THE EASIEST IT PROJECTS WE’VE EVER DONE AND PEOPLE COULDN’T BE HAPPIER—WE WENT FROM CONTRACT TO FULL IMPLEMENTATION IN JUST FOUR MONTHS. THAT’S INCREDIBLE AND IT’S ALL DUE TO SHORETEL.”

“Changing a phone system is a major project because it affects everybody,” adds Davis. “This was one of the easiest IT projects we’ve ever done and people couldn’t be happier—we went from contract to full implementation in just four months. That’s incredible and it’s all due to ShoreTel.”

CHALLENGE:

  • The Portland Water District had an obsolete Executone PBX system that was costly and hard to maintain. The organization needed a solution that would easily integrate with other systems and provide portability to work around emergencies.

SOLUTION:

  • ShoreTel provided a comprehensive VoIP system, including ShoreTel Voice Switches and ShoreTel IP Phones.

BENEFITS:

  • Portable, enabling disaster recovery
  • Improves customer service
  • Increased employee productivity
  • Simplified management of moves, adds, changes