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Safeway Insurance Group Case Study

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Upgrade needed to leverage VoIP advantages

Safeway Insurance Group

Upgrade needed to leverage VoIP advantages

Safeway Insurance Group was using a PBX-based analog telephone system. With the company’s rapid growth, it needed a major telephony system upgrade.

Integration of voice and data

Safeway Insurance Group’s Donna Jonynas, vice president and chief information officer, and Mike Leather, network services manager, wanted a system that would integrate voice and data and take advantage of the many benefits of Voice over IP (VoIP). After extensive evaluations, demonstrations, and customer references, the organization chose ShoreTel over Cisco due to ease of use, the ability to manage the system from in-house, and integrated features.

“Even though we’re a Cisco shop, ShoreTel IP was easy to use and manage and offered a better interface,” remarks Leather. “Also, ShoreTel gave us the ability to do moves, adds, and changes ourselves. Cisco’s solution did not seem as elegant as ShoreTel’s, nor was it as integrated. The applications we needed required additional software, whereas all of those features were already included in the ShoreTel system.”

ShoreTel delivers ease of use and reliability

ShoreTel provided Safeway Insurance Group with two voicemail servers, 14 ShoreGear® T1 switches (one for each of its sites), and 12 ShoreGear 40, 2 ShoreGear 60, and 4 ShoreGear 120 voice switches, also deployed throughout all of its offices. The company is also using more than 450 ShorePhone™ IP telephones, including models 530 and 560.

All Safeway Insurance Group employees are now on the same phone and voicemail system, using four-digit dialing to reach colleagues in any location and even dialing co-workers by name.

In addition to an easy transition, ShoreTel’s call control software is distributed to every voice switch, which eliminates any single point of failure in the system. In the unlikely event of a failure, other switches on the network will automatically take on the call-processing load so no call into Safeway Insurance Group is ever dropped.

“The failover of the ShoreTel system has already been a great benefit,” comments Jonynas. “We encountered a unique situation when deploying the ShoreTel system—Hurricane Katrina hit Mississippi and Louisiana. Because of ShoreTel, it was easy to shift the phone service to the other offices. Calls were automatically routed to other offices and we could still service customers in Mississippi and Louisiana.”

Safeway Insurance Group is also using ShoreWare SoftPhone, a utility that delivers telephony capabilities to users’ desktop computers. “SoftPhone is used by some of the employees who work from home, which allows them to avoid using their home lines and also keeps our long-distance charges down because their calls go through the ShoreTel system,” explains Leather.

The ability to maintain and support the ShoreTel system easily, even remotely, is also a plus. “Some of our offices are small and don’t have a need to have an IT person on-site. The ease of management of the ShoreTel system saves us time and costs associated with traveling to remote offices to address phone issues,” says Leather. Customer satisfaction continues to improve

Safeway Insurance Group uses ShoreTel’s Workgroup capability, which enables the company to consolidate specific inquiry calls to one number and to have calls routed to the next available staff member. The organization has specific workgroups dedicated to departments such as customer support, claims and underwriting, technical support, and more. Workgroups also provide basic reporting capabilities to help measure call volume and make work schedule changes as necessary.

“EVEN THOUGH WE’RE A CISCO SHOP, SHORETEL IP WAS EASY TO USE AND MANAGE AND OFFERED A BETTER INTERFACE. ALSO, SHORETEL GAVE US THE ABILITY TO DO MOVES, ADDS, AND CHANGES OURSELVES. CISCO’S SOLUTION DID NOT SEEM AS ELEGANT AS SHORETEL’S, NOR WAS IT AS INTEGRATED.”

Mike Leather, Network Services Manager
Safeway Insurance Group

“Workgroup supervisors like the ability of the agent monitor and queue monitor to obtain agent and queue status,” says Jonynas.

Safeway Insurance Group also uses ShoreTel’s hunt group feature to make sure standard phone calls reach a person. When a person is on the phone or unavailable, calls are routed to another extension or multiple extensions, preventing callers from unnecessarily reaching voicemail.

Finally, ShoreTel’s Office Anywhere feature allows employees to choose the device they work from – for instance, a cell phone or home phone – and that device assumes the identity and capabilities of his or her regular office extension. When the employee makes a call, the ID will reflect his or her office number instead of the mobile or home office phone.

In addition, the organization also uses ShoreWare Operator Call Manager, which provides receptionists with the information necessary for exceptional customer service. When the phone rings, a call-routing log displays the caller’s entire experience within the system. Since the receptionist knows where a caller has already been sent, he or she can transfer using a simple drag-and-drop tool to the most appropriate person—to his or her extension, cell phone, or home phone.

Enabling better business

Safeway Insurance Group appreciates the ShoreTel IP system’s ability to record telephone calls, which are especially important for insurance claims. With the ShoreTel system, the recording is electronic, and that electronic file can be attached to the claim, allowing all of the information to be kept together and stored electronically on a server.

“ShoreTel was easy to implement, was easy for our users to learn, and makes moves, adds, and changes simple for us,” says Leather. “We no longer have to worry about the phone system when planning for an office move or expansion. ShoreTel definitely delivered on its promise of ease of use and self-administration capabilities.”

“SOFTPHONE IS USED BY SOME OF THE EMPLOYEES WHO WORK FROM HOME, WHICH ALLOWS THEM TO AVOID USING THEIR HOME LINES AND ALSO KEEPS OUR LONG-DISTANCE CHARGES DOWN BECAUSE THEIR CALLS GO THROUGH THE SHORETEL SYSTEM.”

“ShoreTel has been more cost-efficient from a management and maintenance standpoint,” concludes Jonynas. “Overall, the system has been very well received and we’re happy with our decision to go with ShoreTel.”

CHALLENGE:

  • Safeway Insurance Group needed to replace an aging PBX-based analog telephone system. The company decided it was time to converge voice and data and look into IP telephony solutions.

SOLUTION:

  • The company chose ShoreTel for a comprehensive solution to span its nine locations, including ShoreTel Voice Switches, voicemail servers, and ShorePhone IP telephones.

BENEFITS:

  • Failover capabilities for business continuity
  • Ability to manage the system in-house
  • Rich IP feature set satisfies users
  • Improved productivity