BGB is an engineering solutions provider with 100 employees based in Grantham and Virginia, USA. In June 2020, Reuben Hall-Smith joined BGB as the new IT Manager with the challenge of supporting a productive homeworking workforce top of the agenda.

Multiple challenges

“Straight away I was hearing that the phone system was not working with people working from home,” says Reuben. “There was next to no remote working functionality on the system, so people were enabling the ‘forward all calls to mobile’ setting on their desk phone. We were finding that sometimes customers couldn’t get through if someone was already on a call or they didn’t have signal, and the call would be lost.”

The UK and US phone systems were separate and not connected, vulnerable to failure, difficult to scale up and down, and becoming too much of a headache for the business, as Reuben explains: “A big problem was that the US facility was running a different phone system to the one in the UK."

Our existing 15-year-old on premise phone server was out of warranty and had limited support, posing a significant risk for us. As a result of this we experienced a significant period of downtime with no phone lines, ultimately leading us to opt for the TeamsLink solution.”

The right phone system provider

I really wanted to avoid going to market and having to speak to numerous phone systems’ salesmen because I’ve experienced them before at previous jobs; they can promise the world and not deliver, so I was cautious about shopping around for a phone system.”

There was already an element of trust in Reuben’s existing relationship with his Arena Account Manager. “When I was told by my Account Manager that we could work together on a solution with Xerox voice services specialists, there was a level of comfort to me doing that together with him – the existing trust certainly helped.”

Reuben was also able to fulfil the requirement to look at different options with Arena. “We were shown a couple of phone system options; a more traditional set up, and TeamsLink for comparison.”

The ease of use with TeamsLink

Many organisations have their own IT department, a third party providing a telephone system and a third-party IT company providing support, so if something goes wrong, where do you go? And how does a busy IT manager tackle the challenges of home, remote and hybrid working? “We are looking at people returning to the office, but we’re looking at being more flexible,” Reuben confirms.

The TeamsLink model BGB has chosen is so much simpler and suited to their needs. “TeamsLink is a cloud-based solution with a fully featured phone system back end that integrates with Teams. The reason we went for the TeamsLink solution is that it does have that back end that has all the features of a full phone system. So even when we’re back in the office, it will still be able to perform like an office phone system rather than just a remote working solution. It’s got that ability to do both things well. We don’t need any additional bits of software.”

“Everyone’s been working on Teams now for a year doing mostly internal calls, so everyone’s familiar with the Teams interface and they’re comfortable using a headset. We can just buy them a headset, assign them a license and they’re ready to go. It’s that ease that was a real selling point. There are minimal training requirements and it’s easy to deploy.”

With TeamsLink, users can use their PC or laptop to make and receive calls using the on-screen dial pad, negating the need for additional desktop hardware and software. The Teams app also enables you to make and receive calls on your mobile to ensure you stay in contact wherever you’re working.

Some communal locations around BGB will still use a desk phone such as in the BGB warehouse or dispatch area, another advantage of TeamsLink.

A better user experience

TeamsLink can deliver benefits regardless of where employees are working. “We have a ring group set up, so we don’t lose any more calls,” confirms Reuben. “Everyone has their own personal voicemail on TeamsLink as well, so it’s really going to benefit us.”

“Having everyone under one platform was a real selling point for us. We wanted to bring everyone together across the US and UK under one phone system, so when a customer calls up, we can transfer them seamlessly between sites, time zones permitting. For people calling in its going to be a more seamless, responsive customer experience and really back up our initiative to be ‘one BGB’.”

“It’s easy to transfer calls to people internally or externally, as well as add internal or external participants to calls. These are features that people have already been using on Teams so people are going to pick it up so quickly. It’s exciting!”

A single system across the three BGB sites will also reduce the overheads involved with running two separate phone systems.

Delivering higher value IT

Within his first year with BGB, Reuben is delivering a better phone system for his company whilst freeing up time to focus on his next big project.

“I don’t have a team of people to provide support and guidance,” continues Reuben. “So, to go with something that people are already familiar with is really important, as this will reduce the amount of training required.”

“There’s no phone system server on site, it’s all in the cloud and accessible from anywhere over the internet. It’s really easy to scale up and down as there is minimal hardware, and the licensing is simple.”

“It’s early days for Teams based phone systems, but it’s clearly the way it’s going. By adopting this type of solution early on, we’ve really future proofed ourselves as well."

I feel like I’ve delivered value to the business and because I’m on my own and don’t have a team of people, having a fully hosted and managed cloud solution like TeamsLink is imperative. If there are any technical issues, I can go to my Xerox support contact, and all software updates are done without any requirement from me, allowing me to focus on other things.”

The Arena team powered by Xerox

Working with Arena introduced a flexibility to the phone system’s financing to suit BGB who had already assigned capital to the project. The system’s cost per user per month subscription model was flexed to accommodate an upfront capital investment, reducing the monthly subscription to suit BGB’s situation.

There was also an existing element of trust in Reuben’s relationship with his Arena account manager, “l know that Arena take a lot of pride in their reputation and quality of service, and I know how good they are. They are not the cheapest but the offer a really good service and I saw that first-hand.” 

This trust is widening to the Xerox specialist Voice team supporting the system design and the project execution with the reassurance that even if there is a problem in the future, it will get sorted quickly. “They’re doing a really good job on the install. The guys have been really supportive, really responsive. We’ve had regular catch-up calls to make sure everything’s on track.”

“Our voice product specialist has provided an efficient service from start to finish. He took the time to fully explain the different phone system options available, answered all questions and ultimately organised a successful project.

The tech guys have been superb, delivering a first-class experience throughout the project. They have always been extremely responsive to all queries and all the work undertaken has been completed with a thorough approach and to a high standard. “

Reuben’s satisfaction is echoed by BGB’s chief financial officer Emily Edmett who became involved as the proposal was refined and business case shared. “I’ve been really pleased at how well the implementation has gone, and the positive response from our people,” Emily confirms. “TeamsLink enables us to work more flexibly and because it works on a platform we’re already using, it was familiar to people already, which really helped.”

Read more about Arena's voice and communications services.