Case Study: Leading UK estate agency chain.

Unifi deploys Cisco Unified Communications Manager for Estate agency group with over 2,500 staff across 250 branches resulting in massive customer service improvements and cost reductions.

Unifi Deploys Cisco Collaboration for UK's leading estate agency group.

As the UK’s most innovative estate agency groups, our client provides services to thousands of customers every year, which means effective communication and collaboration is at the heart of their business. By using leading-edge technology, they help their customers obtain the best possible price for their property whilst supporting those buying, renting or letting properties.

Our customer’s 2,500 staff within its 250-branch network are critical to their ongoing success. As one of a handful of UK estate agencies to have invested in their own Contact Centre, they have competitive advantage over their competitors as well as resisting disruption from new online only entrants to the marketplace.

Customer experience is a key business differentiator, which is enabled through investments in technology. It is critical that across the whole branch network, customers are kept updated throughout the sales process and informed of services that were available to them. Operationally this was difficult to deliver as each branch had its own legacy, isolated PBX systems. It was recognised that this needed to be centralised within the head office customer service teams to keep regular contact with customers, keeping them in the loop every step of the way about developments and other services that they may find useful.

Purpose-Built Foundation for Collaboration.

Deployment Highlights.

  • Consolidate legacy PBX systems to improve reliability and performance
  • Drastically reduced line rental and maintenance costs
  • Boost staff productivity and provide a vastly improved customer service experience
  • Simplify reporting on key contact centre metrics with call recording
  • Eliminate isolated systems that increased contact centre costs and reduced effectiveness
  • Platform is ready for video. Adding endpoints would allow video calls from desktop clients or room systems
  • Cisco Jabber allows instant messaging included at no extra cost
  • Easy addition of firewall traversal services will enable telephony and video services to be consumed by users outside of the corporate environment
  • Centralised inbound calls with flexibility to route calls depending on what the customers’ needs are.

Working with Unifi, a MPLS network was rolled out across the business to provide a high quality WAN between head office and all branches. With the network infrastructure in place, Unifi began the deployment of Cisco Communications Manager across the business. At the core of the roll out, Unifi installed two Cisco Business Edition 7000 Servers into the head office datacentre. Following a successful trial with 15 branches, Unifi migrated all head office users from their outdated telephony system to the Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) platform. With the use of Cisco Unified Border Element (CUBE), all ISDN30 channels were migrated to SIP. This resulted in significant line rental savings as well as giving the flexibility required to enable the branch roll out.

With the advanced collaboration capabilities of Cisco Communications Manager in place at head office, Unifi began the roll-out to the remaining 250 branches. At each branch a Cisco 800 Series router and Cisco 300 Series switches were installed to connect the branch back to head office across the MPLS WAN. Each staff member was issued with a Cisco 7821 IP Phone that registered across the WAN with the Cisco Unified Communications Manager Business Edition 7000 Servers. Using single sign on, branch users could log into the phone to bring up their telephony profile to enable employees to work from any location with the same user experience as if they were in their normal branch.

Flexible Centralised SIP Trunk Deployment.

As part of the project, all branch office numbers were ported to the centralised SIP Trunk. This allows flexibility on how numbers are routed across the whole of the business with branch calls being routed across the WAN to the branch or individual extension. Transformation masks are used so that the correct branch number is always displayed on outbound calls.

The cost savings made from consolidating ISDN rental at each branch to the centralised SIP service has been significant. When we add in sales growth from improved customer experience plus the productivity efficiency gains we will get a very quick return on the investment we have made in this technology."

Group Telecoms Manager

With the majority of the branch staff being very mobile, Unifi implemented soft phone technology for the agent mobile phones. Now staff are more reachable for the customer, which increases the levels of customer service even further. Customers can reach agents via a single phone number that rings on both their IP desk phone and their mobile phone, simultaneously. 

“Our customers were telling us that they were frustrated at not being able to reach an agent who knew the history of their sale, purchase or let” added the Group Telecoms Manager, “by using this feature our customers can reach the agent handling their case more often. This is improving customer service and decreasing our withdrawal rates, which is very important for our business.”

Improved Collaboration for Increased Productivity Across the Business.

All users and branches can be reached with extension to extension dialling across the WAN with a single corporate directory for all users. With all 250 branches receiving heavy incoming call volume any calls that can’t be answered are routed to the head office contact centre and answered as the branch that the customer dialled. Prior to the centralised deployment, when a call was not answered it went to a branch voicemail box. Many customers just hung up without leaving a message or the message was not actioned until the following day, if at all. With the contact centre acting as a “virtual branch” it has allowed the introduction of extended calling hours for customers, which again improves customer satisfaction.

The centralised system has allowed for the introduction of a New Business Unit that generates business and income for the branches. These branch support teams now provide the important links to financial and legal services, as well as valuations.

With Unifi introducing this highly sophisticated unified communications solution, our customer can provides regular, consistent customer collaboration that is so key to the success of their business. By keeping customers informed about new developments and updated about the services offered customer satisfaction and sales have increased.

Additionally, Cisco Unified Contact Center Express facilitates some of the centrally managed sales tasks. The Cisco Dialler Outbound Option is used by the sales teams to make sales calls, to set up customer appointments and valuations. This has provided hours of time saved. “We’re finding Cisco Unified Contact Center Express to be very easy to use, maintain, and deploy. We’re very pleased with it.”

In addition to the advanced collaboration capabilities of Cisco Communications Manager some users are also using Cisco Jabber to utilise the presence, instant messaging (IM), voice, video, voice messaging, desktop sharing, and conferencing capabilities that Cisco Jabber can offer.

Next Steps.

With so many workers remote from the office, Cisco Expressway can extend all of the features of Cisco Collaboration to users whilst away from the office. With Cisco Expressway, remote staff will have simple, highly secure access to all collaboration functionality, including video, voice, content, IM, and presence. Additionally, Cisco Expressway can allow collaboration with people who are on third-party systems or in other companies. With Cisco Jabber on mobile devices, users can work more effectively on their device of choice with Cisco Expressway allowing simple, clientless connectivity back to the Cisco Communications Manager servers. By communicating using Cisco Jabber on their mobile devices, they can be contacted and to stay in touch more easily while away from the office, improving workflows and responsiveness throughout the company.

Trials are also underway to utilise Cisco WebEx to improve staff training. Additionally, with video conferencing easily managed on the same CUCM infrastructure plans are underway to trail video conferencing facilities between head office and the major branches. This is expected to further improve collaboration, reduce travels costs and increase productivity.