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Kitchen appliance makers cooks up $30,000 savings.


Thermador-Waste King was getting 2500 calls a day through a switchboard with two operators, and the system just wasn't working.

"Sometimes it took so long to answer, the caller hung up. Callers Cale on hold for long periods of time, waiting for busy extensions," says Harvey Lansky, telecomm manager.

His boss told him: "Fix it."

"Today, we have only one operator on the switchboard; all calls are answered promptly, usually in two rings," says Lansky. "If an extension is busy, the caller can leave a message in voice mail and never be put on hold.

"The phone system now works right, and we save around $30,000 a year on an operator," Lansky adds.

2500 Calls A Day

Thermador-Waste King, Vernon, Calif., is a premier manufacture of built-in kitchen appliances. Its 2500 daily calls are roughly 60% vendor/distributor-related and 40% customer-related, for product information and service.

Successful operation of the business in a highly competitive market depends to a great degree on the telephone.

The company believes--and its figures show--that more efficient phone usage contributes to production efficiency, increased sales, and higher profit margins.

The company serves the high end of the kitchen appliance market with top quality products. It has a greater market share today than three years ago, when Lansky began revamping the phone system.

Thermador-Waste King manufactures all the products it sells in five close-by buildings, served by the single switchboard.

Production efficiencies allow more product to be manufactured in less space, averting an expensive planned move to new, larger facilities.

"We can't give the improved phone system all the credit for everything good in our business, but it sure helped," says Lansky.

Thermador-Waste King made two basic changes in its phone system. The company added a Microvoice Apex automated call processor and Repartee voice mail.

Now two-thirds of incoming calls go directly to departments or extensions, with no operator involvement.

With voice mail on most extensions, the caller can leave a message if the extension is busy, often completing the purpose of the call, without involving the operator. Voice mail allows the call processor to release each call quickly, freeing it to again answer incoming calls promptly.

The company has 60 trunk lines, including local rotaries and T1, with 24 circuits, serviced by an eight-port call processor.

"The call processor, voice mail system, and computer cost us perhaps $35,000. That means it paid for itself, in the savings of one less operator, in about a year.

"Our phone system now is no longer a bottleneck. It's a contributor to our business success."
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
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Title Annotation:Thermador-Waste King
Publication:Communications News
Date:May 1, 1990
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