VoIP: A Phone System in Paradise - Page 2

By Gerry Blackwell
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This is More Like It

The new system is more reliable: down time is almost non-existent. All the standard features work properly. “It makes us look a whole lot more professional,” Evans said.

The wireless capabilities mean sales reps can walk out to the warehouse to check on availability while talking to a customer or take customer calls when they’re not at their desks.

The company uses the teleconferencing features to eliminate travel – when it needs to meet with customers about installation jobs, for example. The video conference with the Chinese supplier was a major breakthrough.

AmaZulu had been trying to develop a new synthetic thatch product that some of its biggest customers were demanding so they could eliminate costly maintenance of natural products. Evans would send prototypes to China and then wait, sometimes weeks, for a sample to come back.

“We felt we should have shares in FedEx we were spending so much money on sending samples back and forth,” she said. 

Poor communication stalled the project until Evans hit on the idea of sending the supplier a video conferencing kit and setting up a conference. A picture, as Evans said, is worth a thousand words. It took literally minutes in the video conference to resolve communication problems that had been plaguing the project for months.

A Special Day

“At one point, I pointed to one of the samples, and I saw a big smile on his face,” Evans recalls. “That was a special day.” When the next sample arrived in Florida, it was exactly right. Evans is flying to China soon to sign a deal with the supplier.

She knows she lost at least one important customer because of delays in bringing the new product to market. How many more did she lose because of a bad phone system? She has no way of knowing. The important thing now is that the company is winning lots of new business and growing faster than ever.

“Is that because we’re coming across as more professional, that we’re getting back to customers more efficiently – yes, absolutely, I think so,” Evans said. “The whole company just runs much more efficiently. The staff is less stressed too.”

Easy Implementation

Installing and learning the new system, especially after experiencing the initial one, was a revelation. The first one took six months to fully implement, and it was never right. i-TechSolutions came in and scoped out what AmaZulu needed, configured the components at its own facility and then came in and set up the new system in one day.

Can a good phone system make a company? Not if the company doesn’t have good products and processes, of course. But a bad system can definitely set a good company back. It’s a lesson learned, Evans said.

She offers this advice to other entrepreneurs, especially women, who she acknowledges may be less likely to pay close attention to technology issues. Don’t buy bits and pieces of a network from different sources. Buy the best and buy it all from one vendor. Invest the time and money to make sure everything works well together. Do the due diligence, in other words.

“It will be worth your time tenfold,” Evans said.

Based in London, Canada, Gerry Blackwell has been writing about information technology and telecommunications for a variety of print and online publications since the 1980s.

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This article was originally published on July 22, 2008
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