As a kid, the best part of the “telephone game” was the miscommunication and confusion caused by mixed messages and omitted information. But as an adult, these issues are no laughing matter, especially if you’re responsible for keeping communication lines open at a business.
At Colony Tire, a North Carolina company that sells commercial and consumer tires, a unified approach to communications  added up to better customer service. The company turned to Voice over IP so sales teams could keep up with incoming orders and warehouse workers wouldn’t have to worry about handling calls when the sales force couldn’t get to them.
Colony Tire’s Avaya  phone system not only is easy to use, says Network Administrator Adam Evans, but also was simple to implement. The company hired a service provider to configure the equipment, which Evans installed himself. The LAN runs at gigabit speeds and has enough bandwidth for voice calls. Evans uses a SonicWall  firewall to ensure voice calls are prioritized.
The system is so worry-free that Evans plans at some point to migrate the company’s retail locations to the VoIP system as well. He’s also looking into adding full unified messaging capabilities, which will allow employees to listen to their voicemail on Microsoft Outlook  and dial out from their PCs by clicking on names on the contact list.
“We have our foundation built, and we will keep building on top of that,” Evans says.
For now, the company is happy with the new phone system at its wholesale locations because it has resolved a chaotic situation. “Everything is a lot better—customer service and business flow,” Evans says.
At NCI Building Systems, video conferencing  provides the means to keep communication performing at a high level. In addition to opening lines of communication among employees working at different locations, the technology has allowed the Houston-based company to reduce costs while maintaining personal contact with those attending meetings.
“We are motivated to find better and less expensive ways to do things, and the return on investment on this is pretty quick,” says Quintin Prior, NCI’s vice president of IT operations. For more on how unified communication technologies are changing the face of small businesses, read “Spread the Word .”
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