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Kalleen's becomes its own telco; company handles moves, adds, changes swiftly and easily.


Last year, our company's continuing, rapid growth compelled us to buy a new telephone system. After evaluating several proposals, we selected Pac Tel Meridian Systems (PTMS) as our vendor, and ordered a Northern Telecom Meridian SL-1ST equipped with 120 lines.

Kalleen's Computer Products, San Rafael, Calif., markets computers, office equipment and related supplies in catalogs and through our own outside sales force. Founded in 1970, we have expanded our sales efforts up and down the entire West Coast and east to the Rocky Mountains.

Our sales people are organized into three-person teams consisting of an outside field representative and, here at headquarters, a customer support rep and an inside sales rep. Over the years we have improved our telemarketing techniques to the extent that inside sales and customer support people handle most customers, leaving the outside field representatives free to work with customers who require face-to-face meetings.

Kalleen's takes telemarketing and customer service seriously. In fact, now that we have our new PBX, we're usually able to answer all incoming calls within three rings. In order to maintain this level of service, I must keep a constant eye on the system and be ready to act any time the quality of that service begins to slip.

The problem in doing this is that people are constantly swithcing desks, moving to new offices within the complex, or assuming new duties.

Maddening MACs

If a call forwarding route or distribution group gets out of synchronization with one of these internal changes, we can start losing callers in the resultant shuffle, or have them die on hold.

Although internal changes had been going on during the old system's tenure, we couldn't handle any of the moves, adds and changes (MACs) ourselves. We simply called the vendor and told them what had to be done--then waited patiently for them to do it. As you can imagine, the vendor was seldom able to make its premise visits dovetail with the day and hour a move, add or change was to take place. Not good, but we had no choice.

As the PBX could handle MACs with software commands, it was possible to make almost all changes ourselves. However, the user interface is difficult; it requires a user to learn an arcane and cumbersome command structure. Consequently, we faced a long learning curve, and even as we selected the SL-1 I expected that we still might need to rely on the vendor to do most of this work.

While discussing several call accounting systems with our vendor, I brought up the subject of our move, add and change problem. After reviewing the situation with me, PTMS proposed we install Switch View, a multi-module telemanagement system from Switch View Inc., Laguna Hills, Calif.

Point And Shoot

Switch View is a PC software system that stands in between the end user and the PBX. The program is "user friendly" in that it never presents the user with the PBX command structure. Instead, it provides point-and-shoot menus that have an almost intuitive flow to them.

We installed the software on a dedicated PC shortly after cutting over the SL-1 in July 1989. Jim Cox, Switch-View's general manager, guided me through the installation over the phone and we had it up and running in less than a day.

Because the software is fully interactive with the SL-1 switch, it lets us make all MACs ourselves with no assistance from PTMS. I use the PC to specify the changes, and the software translates my instructions into the PBX's command language and passes them to the switch for execution. When the switch needs to tell me something, Switch View translates the formal command language back into Enlish, and displays the information on the screen. Not only do we avoid what I refer to as the "callout gap," but also the costs of those service calls.

The package also provides all the call accounting functions we were looking for originally.

The program has saved us a lot of time, money, and irritation. For example, the traditional practice of having vendors do the MACs is fine for most people. But with our sales people tightly woven into teams, we couldn't abide the traditional two- to three-day callout interval vendors require for non-emergency work.

If the intricate call forwarding sequences and distribution patterns set up for telemarketing got disrupted by a poorly co-ordinated move, the whole team structure could be impaired.

Because of our ability to reprogram our PBX, I have been able to help other department managers to experiment with different call forwarding and voice mail routing scenarios in their groups. Knowing that we can restore changes in a matter of seconds, managers are willing to put new ideas on-line and test what actually happens--something we couldn't risk or afford if we still had to rely on an outside vendor.

Assign Once

Another improvement in our operations has come now that we assign each employee his or her telephone number only once.

When people are reassigned to a different desk, or take a new position in the company, the number goes along with them. This has ended the confusion and inconveniences caused by our constantly relearning co-workers' telephone numbers.

Recently, Kalleen's acquired space for 30 more employees in another part of the office complex. We had PTMS pull wire into the new space and connect the pairs to available switch ports. As people move into the new offices, I log onto the PC to activate lines, assign telephone numbers, and establish classes of service. The savings in service charges has been considerable--more than enough to offset the cost of the PC and software.

My department has become, in essence, Kalleen's own little telephone company. As a result, we never have to disrupt our sales and customer support work when taking care of changes within the company. And that's improved the quality of service to our customers.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
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Title Annotation:Kalleen's Computer Products acquired Northern Telecom Meridian SL-1ST system
Author:Johnson, Peter
Publication:Communications News
Date:Apr 1, 1990
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