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Avaya IP Telephony System for Small and Medium Businesses Enables Automotive Companies to Trade Up to Intelligent Communications


Companies in the highly competitive automotive industry are finding that trading up to a new high-performance communications system can help them build productivity and make dramatic improvements in customer service, efficiency and cost savings.

Companies in the highly competitive automotive industry are finding that trading up to a new high-performance communications system can help them build productivity and make dramatic improvements in customer service, efficiency and cost savings.


Three firms that are doing so are Santa Rosa Auto Parts, a retail and wholesale supplier based in Santa Rosa, Calif.; Smothers European Volvo and Mercedes-Benz, a family-operated automobile dealer also based in Santa Rosa; and Sutton Ford, a full-service auto dealership based in Matteson and Frankfort, Ill., suburbs of Chicago.


Each has transformed its operations with Avaya IP Office, a secure, intelligent, and easy-to-use converged voice and data system for small and medium businesses from Avaya (NYSE:AV), a leading global provider of business communications applications, systems and services.


Santa Rosa Auto Parts has a headquarters location in Santa Rosa and three additional stores in Santa Rosa, Healdsburg and Napa, Calif. Before the locations were networked with Avaya IP Office, each location received calls separately, instead of customer calls coming in to a single point of contact. As a result, during high call volume times, customers had difficulty reaching a sales person and frequently got a busy signal. The auto parts dealer wanted to solve that problem, and also use its newly-installed data network to carry voice traffic between locations to cut toll costs and enable them to share information across different dealerships to improve collaboration and customer service.


Now, with an Avaya IP Office solution at all four locations installed by Avaya certified BusinessPartner Netspeed Solutions, the company has a call center with 10 agents handling all incoming calls for both the auto and industrial parts groups.A mix of Avaya digital and IP phones networked with three-digit dialing between locations routes calls as needed. The agents have a "screen pop" capability on laptops, so they can see customers' information when they call, such as buying and service history, or recent problems and their resolution, enabling agents to personalize service and speed up transactions. An auto attendant feature enables callers to choose either a Spanish-speaking or English-speaking agent.


"We absolutely needed to have all our branches functioning as one so we're prepared to handle overload if one of our branches was inundated with phone traffic," said Ken Thengvall, controller and IT manager, Santa Rosa Auto Parts." For the last few years, I've been waiting for voice over IP to become affordable, because I knew that the day we started sharing data and voice over the same IP connection, it would be tremendous. Besides solving our customer service problem, it's been a tremendous boost to our internal processes. We can page each other between stores and we even have one manager who pages our downtown store every morning to tell the manager there that the cross town delivery of parts is on its way." Plus, Santa Rosa reduced its monthly recurring line costs by 24 percent.


Call handling, mobility capabilities contribute to top service rating for Smothers European Volvo

Smothers European Volvo and Mercedes-Benz, which has served the Santa Rosa area for almost 30 years, wanted a new communication solution that would help reinforce their reputation for excellent customer service and enable them to provide the same communications capabilities across its four buildings, which include two showrooms, two service centers and the corporate headquarters.


Avaya BusinessPartner Addison Ashley Corporation installed Avaya IP Office at the dealer's headquarters location and networked it with the Volvo sales and service facility on the same campus and the Mercedes service center across the street, connecting 110 employees. Smothers European dedicated a core team of three employees at headquarters to answer all incoming calls. Instead of customers pressing "1" for the parts department, for example - and possibly having to leave a message, or reaching the wrong person - IP Office enables the core team to answer incoming calls on their laptops using a "softphone" application, and identify the appropriate employee available, enabling Smothers European's staff to answer customer inquiries immediately. If all of the team members are busy, cashiers at the two service centers are also trained to answer and handle incoming calls. To ensure customers' inquiries are always answered, about 15 key employees, particularly service advisors and sales staff, use the mobility feature of IP Office to forward calls to their cell phones, enabling them to provide top notch customer service.


"Our sales and service scores have gone up by 10 percent since we've had IP Office, and we are rated one of the top Mercedes and Volvo dealers in the nation," said Guy Heckenlively, business development manager, Smothers European Volvo Mercedes. "We're convinced that IP Office contributed to our rating, because excellent communication - such as making it easy for customers to make a service appointment - is a huge factor that's considered. Our calls now go to the right person, the first time, and we also get information on callers - such as buying preferences - enabling us to identify customers who've spent $90,000 on car. When you've spent that kind of money on a vehicle, you don't want to be put on hold or get an answering machine."


Heckenlively said it took "about 10 minutes" for the staff to train on the Avaya system. "Plus, we didn't have to add employees, and we can still make it look like we have exceptional communication capabilities, which we do, thanks to the IP Office," he said.


Sutton Ford brings efficiency to its operations by networking multiple locations

When Sutton Ford outgrew its former communications system, the company worked with Avaya BusinessPartner Converged Communications Systems LLC to standardize on a new Avaya IP Office solution for its three dealerships in Matteson and Frankfort, Ill. By linking the locations in a single IP Office network, the company is bringing important new efficiencies to its operations.


Telecommunications manager Mike Semik now can manage all three sites remotely through any PC connected to the network. He says the simple, graphical interface Avaya offers makes moves, adds and changes "a piece of cake," providing an easy, efficient way to bring sales people on line or move them around the dealership, for example.


By networking the three sites, the company has eliminated toll charges between Matteson and Frankfort and now can have a single receptionist serve all three dealerships. Any overflow calls are simply routed to the cashiers on duty.


Customer service has also improved. "Before, we were certain we were losing calls," Semik said. "That was one of our biggest customer complaints. But now we have the capacity and the backup we need."


Sales teams are using the "call forward to cellular" feature so they remain accessible to customers as they move across the dealership and won't miss important calls. Semik says sales trainees who share the same desk but work different shifts are now able to log into the network when they arrive, receiving only those calls intended for them and retaining the personal preferences they've established for their shared phone.


Sales managers use data from IP Office to monitor how many direct calls are missed and/or routed to the receptionist at the main office for pickup, giving them the information they need to better manage their operations. They also have the ability to listen in on calls to see how well team members are handling customer requests.


Sutton Ford's busy parts department now has a calling queue that lets customers know where they are in line, and when employees are busy and unable to take calls, they can log out of the system so their phone won't continue to ring. The result has been a big improvement in staff morale.


"Our call flow is also better," Semik said."Each department has its own hours of operation and can set its own after-hours messages and options for how calls are managed."


Since Avaya IP Office supports a variety of transmission protocols and endpoints, Sutton Ford was able to use digital handsets at its primary locations, while deploying IP phones at a small secondary site to avoid expensive cabling costs.


About Avaya

Avaya Inc. designs, builds and manages communications networks for more than one million businesses worldwide, including over 90 percent of the FORTUNE 500 ®. Focused on businesses large to small, Avaya is a world leader in secure and reliable Internet Protocol telephony systems and communications software applications and services.


Driving the convergence of voice and data communications with business applications - and distinguished by comprehensive worldwide services - Avaya helps customers leverage existing and new networks to achieve superior business results. For more information visit the Avaya Web site:


Note to editors:

Santa Rosa Auto Part's Avaya IP Office solution includes:

  • Avaya IP Office IP403, which connects up to 100 users, with the Compact Contact Center, Voicemail Pro and PhoneManager Pro applications
  • Avaya IP Office - Small Office Edition, a compact platform specifically designed to meet the needs of very small businesses and home offices and branch offices, connecting up to 20 users; and
  • Avaya 4606 Series IP Telephones


Smothers European Volvo and Mercedes-Benz's Avaya IP Office solution includes:

  • Avaya IP Office 412, which connects up to 190 users
  • Avaya Compact Contact Center, a leading customer service platform for small and medium businesses; Avaya Voicemail Pro and PhoneManager Pro
  • Avaya 4400 Series digital telephones


Sutton Ford's Avaya IP Office solution includes:

  • IP Office IP406
  • Avaya IP Office - Small Office Edition, a compact platform that connects up to 20 users
  • Avaya Voicemail Pro, PhoneManager Pro and Auto Attendant applications
  • Avaya Compact Call Center
  • Avaya 4400 and 5400 Series Digital Telephones
  • Avaya 5600 Series IP Telephones

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