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With dysfunctional and out-dated phone systems plaguing their business, Ideal Electrical Suppliers describe how they chose a new telephone solution with a keen eye on how it would grow with the business.

Active ImageIdeal Electrical is an electrical wholesale distribution company specialising in electrical products for tradespeople.

Since it began 15 years ago, the Brisbane-based business has grown steadily and now operates 48 branches around Australia, each functioning as its own small business.

As a national company that relies not only on seamless communication between branches and with suppliers, Ideal Electrical has a key priority to service its customers. And a lot of that is done over the phone, answering product inquiries or taking orders.

However, Gary Houston, IT manager for Ideal Electrical, says when the business started, they didn’t give much thought to what the most effective phone system would be for a growing business. So 10 years into operations, the company recognised a need to upgrade. "When the business started, we took on any old phone system we could find in the local vicinity [of new branches]. The system that was in place started to lose calls, sometimes we couldn’t make calls or the handsets just broke and couldn’t be repaired. So what we’ve needed to do over the last six years is replace those phone systems as they’ve died."

Houston recognised Ideal Electrical needed a system that would be reliable, easy to use, provide consistency across its branches and be one that would grow with the business and adapt to new technologies. "We wanted to take advantage of digital telephone lines," he says. "And we didn’t want to be in the situation where we had to go and buy another system if we wanted to adopt some advance in technology.

"We also wanted flexibility in programming so our branches could select to use a direct-dial solution or one where calls went through a switchboard."

Ideal Electrical required between eight and 15 telephones per outlet and a music-on-hold feature to assist with customer servicing. Houston also knew on-site staff training on the new system was a must.

"Consistency between locations was also important so as a branch needed a new phone system, we wanted to make sure we could service them with the same brand."


The Solution

Houston says Ideal Electrical’s top priority was to implement a quality system and they recognised NEC Business Solutions as having a long-standing reputation with a national presence and experience as a professional communications solutions provider.

Ideal Electrical decided to adopt NEC’s Xen IPK phone system solution, which offered the flexibility and growth capabilities to meet its requirements. TSA Communication Solutions, a channel partner of NEC, provided the excellent service and installation in delivering the new NEC solution to Ideal Electrical. TSA’s focus on long term relationship management means that it continues to work with Ideal Electrical on a regular basis to ensure that the solutions meets the needs of this ever changing business environment.

To ensure that the capabilities of the system allow it to adapt to future business needs, Ideal Electrical needed a solution with an IP capability. This provides for the IP capability when the company decides to network some of its branches or key suppliers, or when voice over internet protocol (VoIP) becomes an option between two or more of their branches. It also has Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) capabilities if Ideal Electrical wants to integrate the system with PC software in the future such as with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application.

Ideal Electrical’s outlets are gradually adopting the new phone system. "It’s not something you rush out and do all at once," Houston says. "So it’s an ongoing process for Ideal Electrical to replace the phone systems in each branch, as they need it." More than half the branches have adopted the new system.

Overall, Houston says increased productivity has been the biggest benefit from the new phone system. "We no longer lose calls and there’s no interruption with unreliable hardware. And because our staff often move between branch locations, they don’t need to learn a new phone system. That’s why we wanted to find a good national brand such as NEC."

He believes the system has proved extremely reliable since it was first implemented and Ideal Electrical expect to be able to achieve even more productivity benefits as they make use of the system’s added features such as computer telephony integration and IP capability, not yet required by the business.

For more information on NEC Business Solutions phone 131 632 or visit www.necbs.com.au

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