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Unifi Communications Deploys Cisco Collaboration across 200 Estate Agency Branch Network

Unifi Communications Deploys Cisco Collaboration across 200 Estate Agency Branch Network - Unifi Communications

Unifi Communications Deploys Cisco Collaboration across 200 Estate Agency Branch Network

Estate Agency Deploys Cisco Communications Manager Across 200 Branches

As one of the UK's most innovative estate agency groups our client provides services to thousands of customers every year. 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. They also have the largest independent residential sales and lettings network with one of the biggest integrated financial service businesses in the country.

All this is made possible thanks to a team of more than 2,000 staff within its 200-branch network across the UK. To provide back-up for the house moving process and ensuring a smooth transaction for all customers they are one of only a handful of agencies in the UK to have invested in their own Contact Centre. It is this contact centre that allows them to differentiate themselves from their competitors in what is a very competitive business. 
Customer experience is a key business differentiator, which is enabled through investments in technology. Customers are kept abreast on new developments throughout the sales process and informed about the services being offered. With a branch network of over 200 branches and 6 well known agency brands it was important that to offer the highest levels of customer service the legacy, isolated PBX systems being used across the branches were replaced with a centralised IP based system.

Purpose-Built Foundation for Collaboration

In the summer of 2014 a MPLS network was rolled out across the business to provide a high quality WAN between head office and all branches. With this network infrastructure in place, a roll-out of Cisco Communications Manager could begin. At the core of the roll out, Unifi Communications 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 Following a successful trial with 15 branches, Unifi migrated all head office users from their outdated telephony system to the Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) platform.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 upgraded to a SIP trunk service this resulted in significant line rental savings as well as offering the flexibility required to enable the branch roll out.
With the advanced collaboration capabilities of Cisco Communications Manager in place at head office, Unifi Communications began the roll-out process to the remaining 200 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. For each branch migration, staff were issued with Cisco 7821 IP Phones 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 e.g. extension number and direct dial number on the phone. Employees can now work from any location and have 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" commented the Group Telecoms Manager, "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."
To increase the levels of customer service even further, with the majority of the branch staff being very mobile, Unifi are using single number reach (SNR) to make staff more reachable for the customer. Customers can reach agents via a single phone number that rings on both their IP desk phone and their mobile phone, simultaneously. Single Number Reach users can pick up an incoming call on either their desk or mobile phones and at any point and can move the in-progress call from one of these phones to the other without interruption.
"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 200 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. With the contact centre acting as a "virtual branch" for all branches 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.
By using these highly sophisticated voice and data communications they can now carry out the 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.

Deployment Highlights

  • Consolidate legacy PBX systems to improve reliability and performance
  • Boost staff productivity and provide a vastly improved customer service experience
  • Simplify reporting on key contact centre metrics
  • Eliminate isolated systems that increased contact centre costs and reduced effectiveness
  • Drastically reduced line rental and maintenance costs
Centralising inbound calls has been one of the goals of the client for some time, and now with Cisco Unified Communications Manager, the customer has the flexibility to route calls anywhere it wants, depending on what the customers’ needs are. 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. Trials are also underway to see how Cisco Jabber can help contact centre agents become more productive.

Next Steps

With so many workers remote from the office for a majority of the time the next step is to use Cisco Expressway to 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.