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Sinclair Community College Case Study

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Case Studies

ShoreTel VoIP makes the grade at Ohio’s Sinclair Community College

Sinclair Community College

Legacy PBX vendor no longer in business

Sinclair’s legacy Fujitsu PBX manufacturer went out of business. Although the PBX system met current needs, college staff recognized that the system ultimately needed replacement.

Automated call handling and lowcost routing

As a commuter college that depends on the telephone to ensure smooth communication with students, Sinclair College needed to replace a legacy phone system from a manufacturer that had dropped out of the picture.

The college’s call center is the key to smooth functioning across Sinclair’s dispersed campuses, helping to ensure that the main operator and receptionists receive all incoming calls. Of the nearly 37,000 calls it handles at peak registration periods, most come from existing or potential students with questions about financial aid that require help from agents with very specific training. And with sharply rising enrollments, Sinclair expects peak call rates to top 46,000 in the next year.

“We started well ahead of time to consider what we wanted,” says Sinclair’s director of information technology services, Scott McCollum. “And, first and foremost, we wanted IP technology, a platform that was scalable, and functionality that was easily configurable to our operations.”

“When we were looking for a new phone system, we were also planning for the construction of two remote sites,” explains McCollum. “It was easy to see that ShoreTel’s distributed architecture is ideal for unifying multiple sites in a single phone system. And it was just as easy to see that the other system we were evaluating was not capable of doing that so easily.”

Scalability puts ShoreTel at the head of the class

Sinclair was able to implement ShoreTel in the remote sites and integrate it with the Dayton site. Says McCollum, ”With ShoreTel, everything we installed initially could scale and integrate, regardless of which sites we implemented first. You can leverage your existing investment as you expand – you just add on, there’s no tearing down. That adds up to a much lower TCO.”

One of the most significant cost savings came from the ability to interconnect ShoreTel with the Fujitsu system, with four-digit dialing and voicemail sharing between the systems, allowing Sinclair to roll out the ShoreTel system in phases, based on available time and budget.

“It’s easy to support analog phones with ShoreTel,” explains McCollum. “We simply put a ShoreTel analog switch in the phone room. Not only does this eliminate the expense of completely replacing existing phones with new IP phones, institutions like schools and hospitals have many analog devices and there are cases where you cannot implement an IP phone.”

ShoreTel’s short learning curve accelerates productivity

From the start, Sinclair’s staff found that ShoreTel made their jobs easier. ShoreTel Communicator lets staff use call-handling modes to indicate to callers that they are out of the office or in a meeting, and voicemail notification via email gives staff the flexibility to handle calls depending on where they are.

The ShoreTel UC system also provides valuable failover capabilities. McCollum says, “When traditional phone lines were out at one location, we could forward the calls to our main location, which could then transfer the calls back to the original site
over the IP network. Callers never noticed the outage.”

“FIRST AND FOREMOST, WE WANTED IP TECHNOLOGY, A PLATFORM THAT WAS SCALABLE, AND
FUNCTIONALITY THAT WAS EASILY CONFIGURABLE TO OUR OPERATIONS.”

Scott McCollum
Information Technology Services
Sinclair Community College

ShoreTel Enterprise Contact Center gets A+ for caller satisfaction

With the ShoreTel Enterprise Contact Center (ECC) application, Sinclair easily handles its peak call period in August, prior to the start of school. The ShoreTel ECC allows the college to set up separate menus and call routings: one for financial aid questions and another for all others. Callers can get through to different departments directly from the voice menu so their questions are
answered sooner.

The ECC also helps agents work more efficiently because they can easily see waiting calls. And because the ShoreTel system is so intuitive and easy to use, Sinclair IT agents have more time to address other IT issues. ShoreTel’s workgroups capabilities also serve other college departments, such as academic advising, career services, and the college bookstore. For example, ShoreTel’s hunt groups help improve efficiency and responsiveness. Calls first go to a primary number. If that number is busy or unanswered, the system directs calls to each number in the hunt group so that calls are answered as quickly as possible.

A lesson in high availability without high cost

Managing the ShoreTel system is as easy as using it. From a single ShoreTel Director interface, IT staff can see real-time system status and drill down for more information about a particular switch and quickly identify any line issues.

ShoreTel’s distributed architecture has also enabled Sinclair to build in high reliability with industryleading 99.999 percent (five nines) availability, without high costs. “We simply distributed switches across 20 buildings on our Dayton campus and set up the system with N+1 redundancy,” says McCollum.

ShoreTel graduates summa cum laude in voice communications

Now that all Sinclair campuses are using ShoreTel, the college is planning to add interactive voice response (IVR) functionality to the ShoreTel ECC, prompting callers to enter information that can be used to retrieve relevant information – such as student records – for display to an agent taking the call. By supplying more information automatically about the caller, ShoreTel helps agents answer caller questions quickly and effectively.

“A FEATURE LIKE THE NEW RULES CAPABILITIES IN SHORETEL COMMUNICATOR, WHICH CAN BE USED TO SCREEN AND ROUTE CALLS, IS ONE EXAMPLE OF HOW SHORETEL CONTINUES ADD VALUE TO THE SYSTEM.”

“We were happy with ShoreTel’s design and features four years ago and it has only gotten better,” says McCollum. “A feature like the new rules capabilities in ShoreTel Communicator, which can be used to screen and route calls, is one example of how ShoreTel continues add value to the system. And ShoreTel’s distributed architecture keeps paying dividends in letting us cost-effectively and efficiently meet our deployment requirements.”

CHALLENGE:

  • With Sinclair’s aging legacy Fujitsu PBX manufacturer no longer in business, the college began to consider a replacement and recognized the opportunity to install a modern solution to accommodate a future of sharp growth.

SOLUTION:

  • A ShoreTel Unified Communications (UC) system distributed across its main campus and five satellite campuses included ShoreTel Voice Switches, ShoreTel IP Phones, and ShoreTel Enterprise Contact Center.

BENEFITS:

  • Investment protection as college expands
  • Contact Center increases overall productivity
  • 99.999 percent availability minimizes downtime
  • Lower TCO