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Unified messaging system updates company's voicemail

Installing a new unified messaging system helped one company in its daily struggles with an outdated voicemail system.

The need for an efficient and updated voicemail system prompted Jacob Bright, senior network and telecommunication manager at Crane Plumbing, to look for a unified communications system that could fit his criteria.

A Meridian telephony and voicemail system from Nortel was installed in 1999, but over time, the company -- and specifically the Ohio branch office -- had increased the number of employees but was left using a voicemail system that could not keep up with employee demand.

In addition, many necessary software updates had never been performed, leaving the system undersized and outdated.

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There were too many problems that would cost more to fix than it would cost to install a new and cutting-edge voice over IP (VoIP) system, including unified messaging options and, in particular, a voicemail system that would allow employees to use their time more efficiently.

"Not doing anything was not and could not be an option for us," Bright said. "We didn't perform a formal ROI -- just compared what solutions existed and went with what worked best for us."

After selecting Avaya for the new VoIP phone system, Bright needed to find a voicemail system that would integrate well with the company's new IP switch. He recognized the advantages that unified messaging could offer Crane's employees. With the need for a competent voicemail system in mind and the added return unified communications would eventually be able to offer, Bright searched for a system that could continually return savings to the company over a number of years.

Following some research, he found AVST's CallXpress, which met all of his criteria by offering a scalable system that had easy-to-use voicemail and integrated well with the new VoIP system.

CallXpress also offers Crane employees good ease of use, Bright said. It allows all activity to be handled on one interface. Help desk staff can change user accounts, reset or create new passwords, and set up new mailboxes without needing a manager's approval. From the user's end, the voicemail on CallXpress proved to be highly intuitive for Crane employees.

"CallXpress is very user friendly, unlike our old system, which was very intimidating," Bright said. "Our employees are very pleased with CallXpress. In fact, half of the calls after the implementation coming in to our help desk are about how easy the system is to use when compared to the old system."

Bright said that using CallXpress has helped to free up his time considerably. He is able to delegate smaller tasks that previously required his approval or presence. Now, CallXpress allows members of his staff to perform various moves, adds and changes that used to require an administrator.

The actual implementation was done as a forklift after hours on a Friday night. Taking roughly five to six hours, the first installation involved Crane's IT staff upgrading the voicemail on 150 phones and fax machines.

The new voicemail system allows for unlimited hours of record time, while the old system gave each user only a very limited amount of storage for old messages. AVST's CallXpress also allows new features to be added in seamlessly, as Bright determines that they are beneficial for employees.

"We pride ourselves in the fact that CallXpress was specially designed to be tailored to meet the needs of any business in any industry," said Denny Michael, AVST's vice president of marketing.

Bright also described the new voicemail system as highly customizable and scalable. Other administrative features of CallXpress mean that Crane's IT team can change how messages work, are sorted or delivered, and can work over a number of time zones.

"CallXpress allows us to build in specific features that are not standard as we need them," Bright said.

As Crane has time to evaluate the success of its new VoIP system and new voicemail system, Bright will be able to determine how and when it should be deployed to Crane's 14 other offices across North America. When finalized, the voicemail system will support up to 5,000 users, and more unified messaging features will be added as current problems with the Exchange Server are rectified.

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