Over the next several weeks, the City’s IT department will be coordinating the installation of a new phone system that will provide greater flexibility, more features and an easy-to-use interface.
Check voicemail with e-mail
The new system will replace the current system from AT&T with a Voice over IP system that transports communications services over a data network rather than a telephone network.
“The new system sends voicemail messages right to Outlook,” says Brian Finger, technology specialist. “It’s an MP3 file that you can listen to, save, or even forward to someone else.”
The new system allows users to access features from their computer desktop, making it much easier to use. Users can make a call by selecting a name from the City’s address book, just like sending an e-mail.
The new system also allows users to forward calls with a great deal of control.
“With the system, you can have all calls forwarded to your cell phone or you can “white list” just certain people so their calls are forwarded and others go to voicemail,” says Brian. “You can forward calls to your cell phone or any other number and you can change the settings from your computer.”
Most employees will now have two phones lines but just one phone number. Conference calls will be much easier to set up as well.
The system also offers greater flexibility for “call center” situations where customers are put in a queue for the next available staff member. For example, the system can ask if the caller needs a Spanish operator and automatically route the call only to the appropriate staff members.
“This system will also provide us with a lot of information that was not previously available,” says Brian. “We’ll be able to see how long callers have to wait on hold, how many hang up while waiting and if they try again. It has great potential for our customer service.”
The new system should be less expensive to operate and recoup its initial capital investment after about five years.
Off the hook
Some employees will get phones that plug into their computer’s USB port. Others will get “classic” phones that plug into the wall. IT is working with departments to determine the style of phone appropriate for each employee. The vendor, Mercury Communications, will also provide training on the system.
Phone numbers should stay the same. Employees will still dial 9 to get an outside line. Extensions will expand from three digits to five.
“It’s a powerful new system that can do a lot of things,” says Brian. “We want people to feel comfortable with all the features and to get the most out of system. In the end, though, it’s still a phone and people should know they can use it the same way they’ve always done.”