As most of you know, we have a new phone system here. You know because there is new, fancy hold music…and because we are stumbling to figure out how to transfer calls the new way. The transition has been remarkably smooth – turn the old one off one minute and turn the new one on the next minute. Ok, there may have been a few bumps but, all in all, pretty solid.
Now, I sit here and wonder why we did not do this earlier. We talked about it every year – “we really should update the phone system” is how the conversation would start and then it would end with “Ok, so we’ll go another year, this one is doing pretty well.” The reality is that we loved our Nortel Norstar phone system. It just worked. You know the system I am talking about – you probably used one (or continue to use it?).
We have worked very hard over the years to ensure our decisions matched our values and goals. Providing fantastic, personal customer service (where people answer the phones) has always been a very big priority for us, it is one of our core values. Using a phone system which was pretty ancient, provided little reporting or analysis, no real-time views, etc. made it harder to deliver on that value. Not a great decision to keep saying “the phone system is good enough.”
So, onward, to the new system.
For most of us, the new system does not even have a physical phone per se. It’s just software. We plug in a headset and off we go.
Yes, it performs the functions that one would expect – you can make and receive calls. 🙂 But, the real difference is the data, access to all sorts of phenomenal data, data that assists us with important decisions on an hourly and daily basis and data trends that help us on bigger, longer-term decisions. For example, at this exact moment, I can confirm that we have answered 94.4% of all calls to our support line today and the average waiting time for you, our customers, has been 16 seconds. Since inception of the new system (March 9th), we have answered 84.8% of calls to support. I would not have been able to tell you those details 3 months ago.
That is really the tip of the iceberg in terms of data. Not all of it is useful and we need to align and measure the right data – the data that helps us achieve our goals and aligns with our values. The point is that the data is changing our behaviour – everything was anecdotal previously and it was more difficult to make changes based on feelings and intuition. Now, we have great data points and we can adjust our work patterns and resource allocation as a result.
You would think a company that makes its living in the software and data management world would know this and would have realized a new phone system was required long ago. We have literally designed tens of thousands of reports over the years to assist camps with their data! I have a feeling we all find ourselves here at times – missing some of the most obvious things staring us right in the face. No excuses here!
Bringing in the new phone system also resulted in some great conversations about some of our standard practices. For example, we really debated how long to have you on hold as the system searched for an available rep. We chose to maintain our status quo of limiting the wait and sending the call to voicemail after a set amount of time. We can get on longer calls and we worry that someone could be on hold for too long. We think it is a better use of time to leave a quick voicemail than remain on hold too long. One of the other nice features is that the system emails the voicemail right away to someone, reducing our time to respond.
We will still struggle to solve the seemingly random spikes (the other day we got twice as many calls before 11am than any other day) and the tougher times of year (January, when every aspect of our business is running at top speed) but we now have much better data to make smarter, informed decisions….that line up with our goals and values. Thanks to Jonathan at Lifeline IT for his trusted implementation work and the folks at 3CX for building a solid system.
Of course, the similarity of the relationship between you and CampBrain is not lost on me. It is my hope that we are providing you with the data/information you need, that we are enabling you to operate camps in a more efficient way.
Please let me know if you have any comments on the new phone system or if there is anything I can do to help you have a great summer.