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Remember the proverbial rhyme, “For Want of a Nail?” It illustrates how small actions can result in big consequences. First the shoe was lost, followed by the horse, rider, battle, and finally the kingdom being lost — all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
Conversely, small actions taken promptly can result in significant improvements. This is one such story. It features Fluid Process Equipment, Inc. of Kalamazoo (located at the front gate of the Business Technology and Research Park) and how its decision to invest in a new phone system enhanced productivity.
Founded in 1985 by Glyn and Susan Lake, FPE with its 30 employees in multiple Midwest locations, is a leading pump distributor serving a wide range of industrial and commercial organizations. Some of the markets served are automotive, chemical, ethanol, food and beverage, municipal, utilities, pulp and paper, and more.
What Happened: In mid 2009, according to Elaine Gibbs, Controller and HR director, a salesman’s experience was that “nail” that made the difference.
She said: “A salesman called and said ‘I am so angry. One of my customers called the Kalamazoo office about six times. He could not hear anyone on the other end and he got so frustrated that he called our competitor and bought the pump.’
When Glyn was told what had happened, he said – “Get a new phone system!” Gibbs says, “We had been experiencing some issues with this very old phone system anyway, so we went shopping. We started with our existing phone company, but they didn’t really comprehend what we were trying to do.”
She then called CTS and John Carlson came out immediately. Together they went over everything FPE wanted including: VoIP, individual direct phone lines, Internet service and hosting, conference calling and to integrate our computers into one system. John said, “We can do that with our Metaswitch.”
Gibbs visited CTS for a demonstration of the VoIP system by Diane Barron, CTS Customer Relations Planner. Gibbs said, “I was totally impressed, and I want all of that!” John and Diane laughed as Gibbs said, “No, I am serious, I do want all of it.”
The decision: Gibbs recalls the many features of the system that made the difference. First there is the web-interface software, which provides visual voicemail, displays new voicemail and faxes, missed and received calls. She can see the calls she missed and redial them with Click-to-Dial; she can also listen to her voicemail via this software, known as CommPortal. “I never need to pick up the handset,” she notes.
The Metaswitch integrates voicemail from your office phone with Outlook email and that instantly passes to the Smart Phone. Gibbs points out that all of her voicemail calls are available through the web-interface or her Blackberry. She also uses her Outlook Contacts to make calls. “If I want to call anyone, I just click on the name and the number is automatically dialed, hands free.”
Fiber Installed: Fiber Optic cable was the first installation task. This building was one of the first in the Park and thus did not have fiber installed. Gibbs will tell you that the system installation was seamless and the technical people were most understanding and professional.
“While the technicians were installing the VoIP system, Diane was going around doing the programming,” says Gibbs. “She would talk with us about what she was doing, and why. Diane held training classes for everyone the same day of the installation.”
Because the CommPortal is integrated with Outlook email and Outlook Contacts, Fluid Process Equipment decided to convert to Outlook. Diane assisted with the transition to the new email and the interface with Click-to-Dial and Unified Messaging with their Blackberry cell phones. Gibbs reports that Diane was available anytime by e-mail, text message, and cell phone or at her office. It did not matter what the question was or to refresh us on a training point. “She was fantastic,” said Gibbs.
Final Report: “Our relationship with CTS is nothing short of fabulous. When we had special requests, someone – and it was often Diane – was right on it. For example, we needed help installing a warehouse paging and phone-to-phone intercom. It was no problem for CTS,” Gibbs adds.
“Besides being a wonderful company to work with, they (CTS people) know their products, their installation, their training and their customer follow-up. It is by far better than almost any other company I’ve worked with,” concludes Gibbs. The “nail” in this story was the new phone system from CTS. It enhanced customer and individual communications. It helped to improve sales efforts, customer service and individual productivity.
For the first time in 99 years, CTS’s corporate offices are located outside of the Climax city limits. And, it’s for some very good reasons including enhancing customer service. Completed in March, the move has been under review for more than a year. A motivating reason for relocating to 13800 Michigan Avenue in Charleston Township was to consolidate most of its employees into one location – a plus for customers. For years the employees have been scattered in four facilities, including three in Climax. Gil Colver, chairman of the CTS Board, says, “Our business is serving our customers and we need to all our people together because things happen real fast, in real time, and customers expect answers and action.” There were three primary goals for the CTS move says Jim Burnham, president and chief executive officer: • To create a working environment to get as many as possible of the company’s 37 employees together under one roof to improve efficiency and communications— internally with each other, and externally with the customers and community. • Create a modern work environment that reflects the progressive and innovative character of the company. • The third goal always has been to control energy and operating costs. The new CTS corporate office, which formerly housed the construction management firm of CSM featured in our January 2009 issue, helps meet these goals and helps fulfill the company’s mission statement (see back page). Benefits of this move favorably impact employees, customers and the company. time engineer and represents a footprint reminder of the company’s heritage and commitment to Climax. Burnham also says they will continue to maintain and utilize the warehouse on Michigan Ave. The new location provides easier access to customers from Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, yet close enough to Climax for some people to still drop in to pay their phone bills. You are always welcome to our new home during business hours. We are also planning an open house for later this year.
The emphasis is on NEW, as a new decade is being launched and because there is new technology changing the way we manage information.
First, there is the new CTS logo (Check it out in the above masthead). As we launch the new logo, we will retire the previous “signature” that has been in use for many years. During that time, CTS has developed and grown into a major telecommunications service provider. This growth has been possible with the addition of new products and services. The new logo better reflects our technology and helps position the company for the future. It also serves to recognize the contributions of each person on the CTS Team.
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is leading-edge technology that is rapidly changing the way people communicate. CTS calls it the Hosted IP Solution. To learn more about this technology, we talked with CTS’s Communication Consultants: Joe Vernon, John Carlson and Chad Collver, and Customer Relations Planner Diane Barron. Here’s some of what they said.
Chad notes, people usually call us when their aging telephone system needs upgrading or replaced. And, they usually ask about our newest technology. This is our opportunity to tell them about VoIP and our Hosted IP Solution. VoIP is the service of choice for small to mid-sized businesses. Most of the equipment for a hosted solution resides onsite at CTS. This is a major benefit to the customer because the maintenance and operation of the system is monitored daily by CTS. If a customer is going to replace their phones, they should know that this solution provides expanded flexibility and functionality with many more features than possible with a traditional phone system.
Joe reminds us that the Hosted VoIP Service utilizes the Internet and in order to have quality communication it is essential to have a reliable broadband connection. CTS Fiber optic network, or data pipeline, is the fastest connection available.
Because the external equipment is hosted by CTS, the data is the highest quality possible. Other providers have their server farms located hundreds of miles away in another state which can reduce the delivery and the quality of service. One feature that our customers like — they can change offices without a service call to come in and redirect the wiring. Just simply unplug the VoIP phone and plug it into the computer in the new office and you are essentially connected!
With the VoIP solution, your email, incoming calls, voicemail, and faxes are routed to one location via “Unified Messaging.” He says, “I can check all this communication from my Blackberry when I am out of the office. No more calling in for messages — they are directed to my Blackberry along with any attachments. It is a complete record of all incoming messages. I can actually do more from my Blackberry smart-phone than I can from the computer. There is no camera on my office computer!” he adds.
John: The one feature he likes is the “Find Me – Follow Me” capability. “This means my messages come in on the office computer via the Internet, and it’s on my laptop, my BlackBerry and even to my home computer, if the software is installed.
Customers who are currently on the Metro- E fiber are beginning to see the advantage of this technology and are asking how can it help them. They learn that they don’t have to add a lot of extra equipment to get this added flexibility and it frees up valuable space.
Diane Barron is the customer trainer and assists customers with their new VoIP system. She educates the customer on how to use the new VoIP phone, the intuitive web-interface, Unified Messaging, along with many other new features. The VoIP solution vastly improves productivity and she is available to coach customers with this changing technology. A valuable feature is “Click to Dial.” The VoIP solution is integrated with Outlook email and Outlook Contacts (a database for client information). Find a person’s name and click on one of several contact numbers you may have, and the phone is immediately dialed. There is much more to learn about how to enhance your productivity with CTS’s Hosted VoIP Solution.