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Case Study: CSU Saves $110,000 in Year One With Toshiba IP PBX

One of the nations first completely online universities, Columbia Southern University (CSU) was developed to meet the demand for alternatives to the traditional university experience. Its degree programs are offered completely online, giving students the flexibility to fit their educational pursuits around career and family commitments.

At CSU, associate, bachelor, master, doctoral and certificate programs are available in a variety of fields including fire science, criminal justice, business management and administration, information technology, human resource management and occupational safety and health. CSU is headquartered in Orange Beach, Ala.

Challenge. Pam Dickinson, technical support supervisor for the university, specified a system that would improve customer service with efficient handling of the universitys 20,000 weekly incoming calls and 10,000 weekly outgoing calls. She also needed an IP contact center solution with IP phones for 200 agents in 19 ACD groups.

To allow her to better manage the system, she specified a management system ability that would provide on-site or remote management, including management of auto attendant.  She also wanted to improve the overall user experience with unified messaging.  She needed a system that would support the universitys fast growth, including the ongoing addition of new employees. Plus, it had to save costs.

Solution. CSUs IT team turned to Southeastern Telephone of Birmingham, Ala., an Authorized Toshiba Dealer. Curtis Cantrell, CEO of Southeastern Telephone, recommended Toshibas Strata CIX IP business communication system.

Dickinson already was sold on Toshiba as the university had used Toshiba telecom systems since 2004. This installation was a migration from its older Toshiba DK424i system.

Installed by Southeastern Telephone, Columbia Southern University has a Toshiba VoIP business telephone system that includes Strata CIX1200 IP business telephone system with 400 ports and two remote fiber cabinets; network eManager on-site/remote management tool; Strata Media Application Server; Strata ACD IP contact center solution with more than 200 agents using the Strata Call Manager application in 13 ACD groups; TASKE contact center reporting solution; Toshiba Unified Messaging; and
275 Toshiba IP telephones and 150 digital telephones.

Results. Using Toshibas Network eManager remote administration tool, Dickinson now can manage the entire telephone system from her desk or remotely from her laptop.  She can make adds, moves and changes as the university adds employees and also can troubleshoot issues more effectively since she has more control over the system. 

Dickinson said, With Network eManager, I am in control of the system from virtually anywhere I have Internet access.  This has eliminated $850 in monthly service fees while allowing me to make changes quickly and easily, without waiting for a service call.

Dickinson also appreciates the ease of administration for the automated attendant, which enables her to change or customize outgoing greetings and greeting schedules quickly and easily.

CSUs IP Contact Center receives more than 20,000 incoming calls every week, and its agents place more than 10,000 outgoing calls weekly. CSU uses Microsoft Exchange and Outlook. Using the Strata Call Manager application, agents are able to click-to-dial and utilize chat and presence features to communicate with supervisors or other agents. 

Using TASKE, contact center supervisors have a full suite of reporting capabilities, including more than 150 different reports on call statistics, agent performance, queues and much more.  

With Toshiba Unified Messaging, university personnel can receive all their communication in a single mailbox, including e-mails, voice messages and faxes. Using unified messaging, the university is able to increase efficiency, improve privacy and reduce costs by eliminating fax machines. 

With unified messaging, communication is faster and easier for our employees, which helps them be more efficient, Dickinson said.

Toshibas Strata CIX1200 IP business telephone system has helped CSU meet its goals of improving user experience, moving the contact center to IP phones, allowing them to manage their own system and reducing communication costs.

CSUs cost savings include $100,000 savings by migrating from an older Toshiba Strata DK424i system, which allowed them to reuse existing station and telephone cards as well as digital telephones, and $10,000 annual savings by performing routine maintenance themselves, eliminating service calls. That equates to first-year total savings of more than $110,000 and ongoing annual savings of $10,000 per year.


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