Converting from a legacy PBX to a VoIP-based contact center

* Towerstream’s experience converting from a legacy PBX to a VoIP-based contact center

Today we're highlighting one company's experiences as it converted from a legacy PBX to a VoIP-based contact center.

Towerstream, founded in 2000, delivers high-speed internet access using WiMAX technology, to businesses in major metropolitan markets. In January 2007, the company began trading on the NASDAQ, and in June it raised additional capital to fund its growth. To cost effectively support the company’s expanding customer base, Towerstream opened a call center in October that now supports 200 total seats and 130 agents. The center supports inbound and outbound sales, customer care, internal support, and inbound engineering support for internal clients.

To deploy the call center, Towerstream chose Dimension Data, a specialist IT services and solutions provider that helps clients plan, build, support and manage their IT infrastructures. Dimension Data was selected over other VARs because, according to Arthur Giftakis, VP of Engineering and Operations at Towerstream, “they had a level of expertise no one else had with big and small companies.” Giftakis also said that Dimension Data rolled out the call center in eight weeks, and it continues to manage the center from the Dimension Data network operations center (NOC).

The call center uses a Cisco Enterprise Call Center platform, and it is integrated with NetSuite’s Web-based business software suite that includes accounting, ERP and CRM software. Outbound calls are made using progressive dialing technology included in the system. The center is housed in two buildings, but Towerstream made its technology choices in part based on the platform’s potential to scale across multiple locations (and time zones) supporting centralized call centers or a work-at-home model.

Commenting on the upside of moving away from a traditional PBX to the new VoIP-based solution, Giftakis said that the company’s phone bills have gone from $25,000 a month to $8,000 a month, and agent productivity has gone from 60-70 calls per day to about 100 calls per day - allowing agents to make many more outbound sales calls. When asked about any additional data network upgrade expenses, Giftakis noted that the costs to upgrade the internal data network were minimal, and most upgrades were already planned independent of the need to support the new VoIP system.

Our thanks to Towerstream for sharing its experience and results. Next time, we’ll discuss the results of a May 2008 Webtorials survey on Unified Communications based on the views of about 800 members selected from two large Nortel user groups.

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