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Voice mail cuts costs, improves service at Reynolds Metals.

During the mid 1980s Reynolds Metals began limited use of voice mail with a local voice mail service bureau.

Early applications focused primarily on improving communications between field sales people and their managers. However, as voice mail gained exposure within the company, other departments wanted the technology to address their business problems.

For example, The Recycling and Reclamation Division began using voice mail to communicate with personnel at recycling centers around the country.

Throughout the second half of the 1980s we experienced continuing expansion of voice mail usage due to growing acceptance of the technology. During 1988, the number of users doubled, reaching 1600 users, which prompted investigation of moving voice mail from the service bureau to an in-house system. The final decision was made in late 1989 to purchase AT&T's Audix Voice Messaging System. Installation took place in February 1990.

Cost was the primary factor that motivated our transition to Audix, which reduced our costs by nearly one third. In addition, we realized other benefits of Audix's messaging capabilities, especially call coverage.

Back in 1988 when we were developing a strategic corporate communications plan, we conducted interviews with division automation managers to determine future communications requirements. The most frequenly mentioned problem was that phones were not being answered at our headquarters complex.

While the voice messaging vendor provided voice mail for people in the field, it could not address the headquarters phone-answering problem. With the Audix system, we solved the phone answering problem, cut costs, and delivered important information without interruption to our Recycling Center employees and sales people.

Today the headquarters Audix system serves approximately 2400 employees, including 1800 users who live and work outside the Richmond area.

Voice messaging at Reynolds is the primary means of distributing information to recycling center supervisors around the country. For example, instead of waiting for price information to arrive by mail, field personnel receive price changes via voice mail. This is accomplished by broadcasting a message to a list of users.

Field personnel also use Audix to report information back to the division headquarters in Richmond each day. Audix has allowed the Recycling and Reclamation Division to maintain effective communications with 600 recycling centers around the country.

Other Reynolds Divisions rely on the system to distribute business information to field personnel and to maintain communications with traveling employees. Field sales employees also use the system to keep in close contact with their customers.

While performing an analysis related to the integration of Audix to our PBX, it became apparent that we would receive additional benefits with a modern digital PBX. Since we were reducing our expenses with voice mail, we were able to upgrade our existing AT&T Dimension PBX to a Definity Communications System Generic 2. The Definity System serves 1800 users and handles approximately 2300 stations, including fax machines and modems.

The combination of Definity and Audix Systems has helped us reduce telephone tag and improve overall communications both internally among employees and externally between employees and customers. In addition, headquarters' employees are notified of pending messages through a "message waiting" light on their telephone sets.

Reynolds also uses an AT&T ACD (automatic call distributor) which routes incoming calls to the headquarters complex and is especially helpful to our corporate travel service in coordinating travel requests from Reynolds personnel.

Besides our Richmond headquarters, similar systems are installed at two other locations--one outside Chicago and the other in northern Alabama. The Chicago (McCook, II.) plant produces aluminum sheet and plate for the aerospace and transportation industries. The northern Alabama plant in Sheffield produces aluminum can stock and automotive sheet.

We plan to network all three systems so users can easily send and forward messages.

We also have a smaller system at our Presto Products subsidiary in Appleton, Wis.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Nelson Publishing
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Author:Summers, Barry
Publication:Communications News
Date:Aug 1, 1991
Previous Article:Ingersoll-Rand's software solution to telex and fax.
Next Article:Getting a handle on the boom in E-mail use.

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