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SOCOTEC dials in new Hosted Voice solution from Claranet

Founded in France in 1953, SOCOTEC is a leading global player in testing, inspection and certification, assisting businesses in a variety of sectors in managing risk and ensuring the safety of staff. The company provides seven million tests a year to more than 5,000 customers, building a positive reputation for a client-focused approach throughout its years of operation.

The company relies heavily on its phone systems to handle customer and sales enquiries, and to keep workers properly connected in the field so they can serve customers quickly and efficiently. Alongside this, clear communications across the company’s various office spaces – which include nineteen different businesses that have been merged under the SOCOTEC umbrella over the past 15 years – is essential.

The challenge

The immediacy of a conversation over the phone is of paramount importance to SOCOTEC, as it enables the company to connect with its customers, suppliers and workers in the field in a quick and efficient manner. With this in mind, call quality and availability is key to SOCOTEC’s ability to serve its customers and manage its employees in the most effective way.

The challenge that SOCOTEC faced centred on maintaining quality and consistency of phone communications across 1,200 users and over 30 different sites, and to make sure that each of these users were able to communicate with customers without difficulty. Under the previous system, missed calls were common and were impacting negatively on the company’s ability to provide a high level of customer service. In addition, having fifteen disparate PBX systems in place led to difficulties managing each one, which often led to problems making and maintaining connections and inconsistent call quality.

The overriding challenge for SOCOTEC was to solve these issues with call quality and missed calls without having to justify a significant increase in spending, and to implement a system where missed calls could be logged, tracked, monitored and returned as quickly as possible.

Phil Baker, IT Manager at SOCOTEC, explains: “If one of our sites was to have a power cut, we would have to rely on BT or Vodafone to put a hard divert on the calls to that site. The shortest downtime period we had was two hours, and the longest was twenty-four hours. That’s a huge amount of dead air, and represents far too long a time for customers to be hitting a brick wall. Put simply, the system we had in place wasn’t enabling us to serve our customers to our full potential. Not being able to track the lost calls and follow up on them was also an issue that needed to be addressed.”

The solution

To enhance their capabilities, SOCOTEC turned to Claranet – their existing network partner – to arrange a full migration to its Hosted Voice system. This VoIP solution provides a complete telephone system, incorporating physical handsets, soft phones and easy integration with smartphones and tablets. It is integrated with Claranet’s private network, which ensures much greater consistency of call quality than a system that runs through a standard internet connection.

The new hosted voice system gives users much greater visibility of calls compared to the previous installation, meaning that the details for any missed calls can easily be recorded through a new ’unreturned missed calls’ report, and follow-up can be arranged swiftly. Alongside this, the new system includes improved functionality and an integrated messenger service that facilitates easy instant message communication on mobile when teams are in the field.

Commenting on the new solution, Phil said: “In the past, we had had poor experiences with SIP systems, so wanted something that would eliminate the problems of old. The new implementation has quality of service built-in, allowing for a much smoother connection and significantly improved ease-of-use, and makes the all-round communication process much easier to manage. With the new system, if a site goes down due to a power cut for instance, a call will go straight through to telemarketing. If the telemarketing site is down, then it automatically goes to the telemarketing backup team. In effect, it means that calls from our valued customers are never left at the first point of failure. The call drop feature means that we can easily see what calls are being missed across all sites, and unreturned calls can be seen through our service desk, which makes follow-ups so much easier.”

Phil Baker

The result

The migration to the new system has meant that not only are the calls smoother and more reliable, the ability to access call information enables SOCOTEC to go the extra mile in terms of being aware of how effectively they are communicating with customers, and how they can improve the way they operate to increase revenues. The result has been the implementation of a vastly improved system that has been installed at a price that has ensured impressive value for money, enabling SOCOTEC decision-makers to keep a close eye on their pockets while maintaining full focus on providing a positive customer experience.

Phil added: “Being able to ensure a highly positive customer experience, as well as a smooth communication experience for our employees, is of paramount importance to us. Thanks to Claranet’s input, we have managed to leave behind many of the inefficiencies of the past, and have seen this reflected in the enhanced relationships we now have with our customers.

Already having Claranet as a trusted partner left us confident that we would be in safe hands, and this turned out to be the case: the account management on this project has been excellent, to the point where we essentially entrust Claranet with our entire communication structure that we use to talk to the outside world. If Claranet weren’t up to the job then customers wouldn’t be able to speak to us, wouldn’t be able to visit sites and we wouldn’t be able to function as a business.”

Phil Baker