Crawley Community & Voluntary Service (CCVS) is a charity that offers advice, information and services to a range of charities, voluntary and community groups in the Crawley (West Sussex) area. They also provide serviced offices with telephone and broadband facilities to a number of these organisations.
This enables them to function more efficiently and cost effectively than they would if they had to pay for these services individually. CCVS is an independent charity so there is a strong imperative to deliver a high level of care and support for clients while simultaneously seeking cost savings. CCVS operates from a single location, and the clients using their office space operate with staff numbers ranging from just one or two people, up to thirty.
For any organisation, a reliable phone system is essential. For CCVS, a number of whose charity clients operate emergency help-lines, it could mean the difference between life and death. Before commissioning a complete overhaul from Southern Communications, the telephone system was unreliable and unstable. On occasions it broke down, voicemails for staff failed to get through and routine functions were unnecessarily complex, particularly for volunteers with learning difficulties. Support received from the current supplier was erratic and administration was difficult. CCVS invoices clients for their share of the global telephone bill, but administering this via a separate call logging system took time and energy that would have been better applied elsewhere.
As well as phone services CCVS provides broadband services to clients, but thanks o the age of the old phone system this had to run through a separate network, which added extra complexity, cabling, administration and maintenance. Not surprisingly, clients demanded better.
The Southern Communications Solution
In the summer of 2012, Southern Communications recommended an Avaya IP500 VoIP (Voice over IP) phone system to give the reliability and ease-of-use needed. The system was installed with approximately 150 extensions – 6 for CCVS staff, the rest for their tenants. The switch over to the new system took place out of hours which meant there was little to no disruption. Two engineers from Southern Communications were onsite for the week of the installation and provided individual training on the features and benefits of the new system. The new installation allowed broadband services to run over the same network, replacing two entirely separate networks with just one.
“We no longer get complaints from tenants. The system is reliable, user friendly and the service we receive from Southern Communications is outstanding…”
Michael Simpson Premises Officer
Core to the new service is Southern Communications Extension Level Billing which produces information on individual extension’s usage and costs, allowing the old call-logging system to be discarded. Client-billing is no longer an administrative headache and is far quicker. Switchboard operations have now also been simplified as call transfers now require just two simple key strokes. In addition Southern Communications installed a hot-desk pod allowing occasional users one-plug access to the phone and broadband networks and a UPS power backup system that keeps the system running in the event of a power outage.
CCVS report satisfaction with the new system among their own staff and clients alike. The system’s stability and ease-of-use, coupled with the ability to make changes seamlessly has made this key element of the business much easier to manage. The ease with which the new system can be operated, including formerly complex operations such as call transfers, has improved working conditions, particularly for volunteers with learning difficulties. Being able to rely on the telephone system means tenant charities know their own clients, often in distress or danger, will be able to reach them without difficulty. CCVS and their clients not only had to endure unreliable hardware in the past, they also had to pay over the odds for their telephone calls. Southern Communications put them on a new tariff that has reduced running costs all round, allowing CCVS to improve their service offering significantly.