David Alltop | Regional IT/Pagination DirectorWATCH THE VIDEO
With 200 employees in the region and a readership of more than a million and a half people per week, communication is absolutely vital to the organization. Reporters need to receive tips, the customer satisfaction team needs to renew subscriptions and handle complaints, and managers need to keep in touch with their staff. In 2012, David Fike, President of the Chesapeake region, wanted to push regional offices to transition to a more mobile workflow and left this responsibility with David Alltop, the Regional IT/Pagination Director.
Alltop is responsible for producing newspapers, artwork, and putting pages together, as well as managing all technology needs for the Chesapeake region. When given the task of looking for a new, more mobile communications plan for his region, he took a look at the things that were not working within their current system.
There were a number of issues with the copper lines that they were using for their phone structure. One of the most cumbersome problems was the inability to transfer calls. Each call into the wrong office location, incorrect contact, etc., meant that they would have to instruct the caller to hang up and call another number, costing that person valuable time, and sometimes losing the business of people who didn’t want to go through this tedious process. Employees even began giving out their personal cell phone numbers to important contacts to avoid this mess. Alltop commented, “When a member of our staff separated from the company, it made it very difficult for our customers and our news sources to be able to reach us. By the employee giving out a person cell number, it was difficult to update all of the inbound contacts that the change in staffing had occurred.”
After doing some initial research into more mobile-friendly options, Alltop began looking into VoIP providers and virtual fax companies to start the transition to going wireless. “I took a couple of months to play with demos from VoIP providers, and eventually decided to go with Nextiva. The support I received was amazing. The back-end environment really helped to sell us on Nextiva too. The interface was great compared to competitors, and it was usable for people who aren’t phone and technology experts. And having a low price didn’t hurt either!”
After making the decision to use Nextiva, the first transition was to Nextiva vFAX for virtual faxing. APG Media of Chesapeake was able to set the virtual faxing up to their current copy machines so they could print the information, just like a traditional fax. They configured the vFAX portal to email specific people for each office, and all were happy with the new virtual system. From there, they jumped into VoIP.
Nextiva and APG worked together to transition one location at a time. They chose to get their phones from Nextiva, as they were preconfigured and pricing was competitive. Alltop said, “It was great to skip provisioning on our end. Everything was ready in the Nextiva system when we opened the box!”
Throughout the transition process they moved over 300 phone numbers to Nextiva. While they waited for the numbers to port over, temporary numbers were used to forward their incoming calls to their Nextiva devices. They were able to take advantage of their new system and features without interrupting their business while they waited for all of their numbers to be transferred to Nextiva. They also issued cell phones to their staff that mainly worked in the field so they could start using the Nextiva App and also have calls forwarded to these lines via their newly implemented Auto Attendant.
“We depend on the Support team at Nextiva. We use the online resources for standard questions, but for more complicated questions, Nextiva support is wonderful to work with. They’re proactive and will get information on our business model to recommend best practices,” Alltop described.
“There was no longer any reason for people to give out their personal phone numbers. We now had complete control of phones, contacts, and how our staff is being reached,” Alltop explained. “Our reporters only give out their main number that is in the Nextiva system so we don’t have to worry about losing touch if a staff member leaves the company or is unavailable. And for those who also have handsets, we have dual ring set up. They can answer any call from their desk or cell phone!”
Multiple members of the team at APG have access to the back-end admin and user portals so they can make changes to the system and monitor the lines. “Our staff really love NextOS (Voice). They can change up the Auto Attendants, call flow, and more with just a few simple clicks,” Alltop shared. “Plus, it’s great that we can have Nextiva record all our Auto Attendant messages. We sound professional and uniform in all our recordings now.”
Call Queueing is another important feature that has contributed to the success of the Nextiva system at APG Media of Chesapeake. Being distributed among a few different physical locations made external communication difficult, especially in the Classifieds department, who took calls from all over the region. There was no way to adjust call forwarding if people were absent or out sick. With Call Queuing, they are now able to set up Call Groups and Round Robin calling patterns, and even adjust “Do Not Disturb” settings for each person. Most people are able to sign into NextOS (Voice) and adjust their own settings.
After directly signing up with Nextiva, their system began to grow and they needed to bring in a third-party partner, 1 Call Telecom, to manage their service. Alltop explained, “They are able to handle our hardware orders and similar things, but we still have direct access to Nextiva support.”
“We depend on the Support team at Nextiva. We use the online resources for standard questions, but for more complicated questions, Nextiva support is wonderful to work with. They’re proactive and will get information on our business model to recommend best practices,” Alltop described. “Overall, the service is very reliable and the voice quality is great so it’s extremely rare that we have to call in for an issue. Usually we just call them to get more information and advice.”