Stark Automotive Upgrades to ShoreTel Sky Phones and Increases Employees’ Potential to Succeed
“We want to provide our employees with a good working environment and quality of life. The ShoreTel Sky phones enable them to be more efficient which gives them more opportunity to succeed.”
Tim Patnode, IT Director, Stark Automotive
Challenge: Upgrade Antiquated Phone System
For 45 years, Stark Automotive has been selling General Motors vehicles in Wisconsin. The company has grown to 140 employees across ten locations, including Madison, Merrill and Waukesha. Although it had graduated to an IP phone system with an in-house call manager, the system was old and the technology was antiquated. The obsolete phone system made expansion impossible because the manufacturer stopped selling licenses for that particular server. When the dealership opened another small car lot, it was forced to purchase analog phones that didn’t integrate with the IP phones.
The phone system was limited in many ways, requiring the Stark IT department to dedicate significant time to maintain it. Users had to involve IT to change voicemail passwords, it was limited in its conference calling capabilities, there was no queue ability, and revealing and masking phone numbers for outbound caller identification was practically a full-time job. For instance, if the dealership wanted its sales agents’ personal phone number to be seen on caller i.d., or its accounting department’s phone numbers to be masked and instead show the main switchboard number on caller i.d., the IT director, Tim Patnode, would have to call the phone company to initiate programming. The back-and-forth process would take up to 90 days and the carrier would charge Stark a fee.
The limitations of the phones combined with the amount of work it took to make simple changes forced Patnode to look at other options. Upgrading to a new in-house phone system was too expensive and time-consuming. Further, Patnode wanted to distance himself from the large phone carriers who offered little in the way of customer service yet nickel and dimed him for even the smallest requests. Complicating matters, the dealership needed a carrier who could offer a single solution for all of the dealership locations.
Solution: ShoreTel Sky Provides More Features and Responsive Service
ShoreTel was the only carrier who offered robust phone features and could manage the multiple locations without outsourcing to other carriers in the more remote areas. Currently, Stark is utilizing several features it previously didn’t have:
- Integration with Exchange 2007 – users get office voicemails sent to their smart phones in .wav files or readable in an email
- Find Me Follow Me – users program phones to ring multiple devices to never miss a call
- Call recording – management uses recordings for training purposes
- Caller queues – incoming toll free calls are directed to a local sales agent
- Four-digit extension dialing – easier and faster communications between employees
- Backup internet connections – uninterrupted service should T1s fail
- Online portal – users log in to change voicemail passwords and phone settings
Results: Enhanced Capabilities and Service Improve Productivity
Patnode knew the ShoreTel Sky systems would give the company more features, but he was surprised at the levels of disaster recovery the system offers. “With the internet backup, we can continue to do business with no downtime should the T1s go down,” he says. “And should all power go out, phone calls will go immediately to cell phones. That kind of reliability gives me peace of mind and ensures our customers can always reach us.”
As far as the reliability of the phones and service, Patnode says there is no comparison. “Our previous phone carrier put me through months of headaches due to their own technical and accounting errors, shutting down phones and charging us for their mistakes. I spent more time with them than I did doing my job,” he recalls. “The ShoreTel Sky phones and service are so reliable, I don’t even think about them. It has freed up my time to focus on my network and employees. If I do need to call ShoreTel, I don’t get bounced around; within a minute, I have someone on the phone who can help me with my issue.”
The ShoreTel Sky phones have also given the Stark employees the ability to be more mobile without worrying about missing opportunities or wasting time going back to their desks to retrieve messages. They can tend to customers faster while still being more productive with their other job functions. “Not only do we want to give our customers the best service possible,” says Patnode, “we want to provide our employees with a good working environment and quality of life. The ShoreTel Sky phones enable them to be more efficient which gives them more opportunity to succeed.”