Improved Customer Service & Ease of Call Transfers Boosts Efficiency
The government offices of Athens County, Ohio simplify call handling and save 1-2 hours of work per day with Wildix
If an institution regularly receives external calls that ask for specific professionals, it will require a convenient means of looking up those professionals and transferring calls to them. Wildix provides this system conveniently via the address box accessible through Collaboration, allowing for quick searches for specific names and instant transfers of external calls to those numbers.
Through the increased convenience and speed of these call handoffs, institutions become able to save up to 2 hours of work each day per employee. The organization also gains access to smart working capabilities through the Wildix mobile app and the in-browser use ofo Collaboration, both of which enable external parties to reach professionals at any location.
Located in the south of Ohio, US with a population of 63,000, Athens County and its government offices need effective communications to interface with constituents and keep internal processes running smoothly.
Previously, the county offices used an Avaya phone system, which failed to streamline core elements of communications and, in some cases, even created issues. In particular, reaching specific internal colleagues or transferring outside calls to specified county employees proved difficult under this prior setup.
According to JoAnn Rockhold, county clerk for the Athens County Board of Commissioners, “We had extensions, but when you’re looking at 600 county employees, trying to remember the direct lines to who you’re calling was an ongoing issue. As the county kept getting bigger, it became even harder to remember everyone.”
While this bottleneck slowed down county operations, activity would also grind to a halt due to system outages that the previous provider typically left unaddressed.
“We had phone lines going down, and when we had issues with the phone, we could never get a hold of anyone to fix it,” Ms. Rockhold recounted. “[County employees] would have to throw out on Facebook that they could be reached via cell phones. For a county government, it was not working.”
Frustratingly, Ms. Rockhold herself was typically left accountable for these communications outages, as she also described:
“When something goes down, my colleagues call me first. Whoever it might be — dog shelter, prosecutors, judges — they tell me it’s not working. And then I can’t find anyone. Then we’ve got prosecutors or magistrates or judges with conference calls, and their lines are down, and we can’t get anyone [from our last provider] to return our phone calls.”
Hoping for consistent service and a means of more easily reaching specific internal contacts, Athens County chose to leave its contract with its previous Avaya provider.
Deciding what provider to switch to proved to be a quick process, as the county was eager to strike up a relationship with Jason Basset and his company, FreedomLinx (a Wildix Gold Partner).
“We met Jason through our last provider, and he was great because he would give me the emails of the people I needed so that I could get things fixed,” Ms. Rockhold said. “Once we met with Jason after he founded FreedomLinx, he was like, ‘I have this phone system,’ and we were like, ‘great!’”
The phone system in question from FreedomLinx was a Wildix PBX, spun up to accommodate the entirety of the Athens County offices. Mr. Basset explained the nature of the system in more detail:
“They're obviously using Collaboration, and they're one of the heavier users of it. One of the nice things about this install for them versus the Avaya system, from a technical standpoint, is the fact that they're all interconnected. The interoffice communication is now much tighter. They can see the availability of everybody across the office, they can chat each other, and that applies to every department across the county. Things that were previously separate are now tied together.”
Primarily through using the Wildix software, the County now uses Collaboration to handle incoming and internal calls, as well as for manual call parking and transfers.
With the Wildix solution installed for the government offices and managed by FreedomLinx, Athens County now enjoys more consistent uptime and, in the event of errors, reliable customer service.
“FreedomLinx is always the same quality of service for us,” Ms. Rockhold said. “It's being able to get a hold of someone when you need them, whether that’s on a Sunday night or in the evening or on the way home. It's someone answering the phone to help you when you're in need.”
When it comes to regular day-to-day operations, the county offices have found greater convenience in call handling through Wildix Collaboration, especially the address book within the tool.
“We always have to be able to send incoming callers to someone we don't know,” Ms. Rockhold explained. “Before, if I got a call for someone, I would have to call the auditor's office and say, 'somebody's looking for Don Smith, what department is that?’, and then she'd say ‘children's services,’ so then I’d have to tell these people, ‘you got to call this number, blah blah blah.’
“Now, when the caller says who they're looking for, I can handle the process myself by putting them on hold and sliding the call over,” she said.
The nature of the Wildix system has changed the exact working procedure for most of the offices, but with the solution’s greater efficiency, it’s safe to say those changes are for the better.
As Ms. Rockhold described:
“I use my desktop every day and send callers to the direct line they need instead of having to send them to the main line, who then is going to answer the call again and put them on hold to try to send them to the next department — so it's convenient. Now we don't have as many irate citizens calling because we can get them who they need right away.”
This increased convenience and satisfaction was cited on top of increased efficiency and workplace satisfaction from the system.
“If you call me right now and I’m busy, I can right click on that in the history and call you back,” Ms. Rockhold explained. “Before, if you called me, you’re going to get someone taking a message, writing it down, they're telling me you called, and then I’m going to try to get to you. Whereas now, I can just go into my history, right click on that number and call them. If I'm busy, or if someone sends me a message trying to get a hold of me while I’m on a conference call, I can multitask.
“I would say it saves me at least an hour or two a day. The average employee probably has to save time as well.”
Additionally, as an unexpectedly important benefit, the Wildix system also brought the offices the ability to implement smart working.
“We got this going during Covid, which was a lifesaver for us,” Ms. Rockhold said. When we had to start to scale back, the problem was how to get people working from home and using cell phones. But we got [Wildix] up and running, which made it 10 times easier, because at least you could still continue to take your phone calls without giving out your personal cell phone number. You can take it right on your cell phone.”
Regarding the setup of the system, Mr. Basset had input as well.
“I think efficiency is the key: that's the big difference maker versus traditional systems, the ability to give you the agility to meet whatever the situation you’re facing, from having to work remotely or take a call on the road or and not be limited by a sidecar on a physical phone,” he explained.
Asked if she would recommend Wildix and FreedomLinx, Ms. Rockhold had an easy answer.
“Absolutely,” she said. “The phone system is very user friendly. The conference calls are great, and transferring calls is wonderful.
“It's the convenience of using this system that makes it worthwhile. It's the convenience of finding your employees, logging them by department or sending them a message or transferring a call that's come into their direct line. It's getting the right person.”
For getting the right person more quickly and consistently, Athens County’s clear choice is still Wildix and FreedomLinx.
300 county employees brought onto digital unified communications system
1-2 hours of work saved each day per employee
Address book for convenient lookup of internal colleagues
Simplified call transfer to more quickly connect citizens to desired individual or department
Smart work capabilities through Wildix mobile app
In-browser call history to more easily return missed calls
Improved and more available customer service
Greater public satisfaction with government services