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Honolulu Board of Water Supply Improves Communications, Customer Service with Solution from Cisco Partner Envision Networked Solutions

Honolulu Board of Water Supply wanted to replace its legacy phone system to streamline and unify communications for the entire organization, as well as improve its customer service center.

Cisco Silver Certified Partner Envision Networked Solutions designed and deployed a solution using Cisco CallManager, Cisco IPCC Express, and Cisco Unity with unified messaging.

September 21, 2005

By Cindy McDowell, News@Cisco

Cisco® Silver Certified Partner, Envision Networked Solutions, recently helped the Honolulu Board of Water Supply replace its private branch exchange (PBX) phone system with a Cisco IP Communications solution that helps save the organization money, while improving its customer service and employee productivity.

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply, located on Oahu, Hawaii, manages the island's municipal water resources and distribution system, and is responsible for providing local businesses and residents with safe and dependable water service.

"Our existing legacy phone system didn't have the functionality and flexibility that we needed, which made it difficult to manage," says Brian McKee, CIO for the Honolulu Board of Water Supply. "We were using both four-digit dialing and direct dialing throughout our organization. We wanted to streamline and unify communications and also upgrade the functionality of our call center so that we could develop best practices for customer service."

Cisco IP Communications Expertise Wins Partner the Business

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply had experience working with Honolulu-based Cisco Systems® partner Envision Networked Solutions, and appreciated the positive results from past projects.

"The City of Honolulu had standardized on Cisco hardware and Envision had an existing contract as the vendor to provide Cisco equipment," says Rick Phillips, director of sales for Envision Networked Solutions. "That along with our Cisco IP Communications expertise made us a natural fit for this new project for the water board."

The Envision Networked Solution team focused on the Honolulu Board of Water Supply's two main goals: improving internal communications and improving its customer service and call center activities.

"We wanted to be more customer focused," said McKee. "We wanted to be able to let customers know about interruptions in service and provide updated information, especially after hours. We also wanted to be able to record and monitor calls and easily customize outgoing broadcast-type messages."

According to McKee, this level of customization was difficult on the existing call center system. His group also wanted Envision to develop customized call-center reports and graphs and provide a way to display caller-related information, such as wait times for customer service calls.

Envision recommended Cisco CallManager, Cisco IP Contact Center (IPCC) Express with 30 agents, and Cisco Unity® with unified messaging for 1000 users. To provide updated information for customer service agents, Envision recommended an Inova PC Wallboard integrated with Cisco IPCC Express.

Thorough Planning Leads to Successful Deployment

In addition to recommending and implementing the Cisco IP Communications solution, Envision Networked Solutions also managed all staff training, coordinated with the water board's local telecommunications company, and built customized scripting and reporting for Cisco IPCC Express. It was able to deploy the entire project over a three-to-four month period. The water board also asked for Envision's expertise to help them develop best practices for their customer service efforts. To help minimize risks, Envision kept the existing PBX system operating in parallel while the Cisco IP Communications solution was implemented. Once the new solution was thoroughly tested, Envision switched from the PBX to the Cisco IP Communications system over the course of a single weekend.

"The switch to the new system was so transparent that users considered it another phone on their desk" says McKee. "There was no disruption of business and everyone was able to start using the new features immediately."

New features, such as retrieving voice-mail messages from Outlook, directory lookup, and teleconferencing, have helped employees increase their productivity at the Honolulu Board of Water Supply. In addition, the added functionality of the call center helps the water company provide top-tier customer service, by alerting customers of possible outages in service and providing up-to-the-minute information on repairs.

"Best of all, we can manage the call center internally, and when we need new capabilities we'll be able to set those up ourselves," says McKee. "Having one infrastructure for both voice and data on a standards-based system will enhance our abilities to implement future applications, such as being able to access customer information based on their phone number." We can easily tailor the call center system to our customer service needs. And the management appreciates the reports and metrics we can provide."

In the past year, the team at Envision Networked Solutions has recognized a growing interest on the part of businesses and organizations looking to upgrade their infrastructure.

"The customer is now more knowledgeable about IP communications and what they want to get out of their network," says McKee. "We'll continue to grow our relationship with Cisco, learn about the IP space and embrace new technologies."

Cindy McDowell is a freelance journalist located in Santa Cruz, CA.

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