How Countrywide proves the value of unified communications for businesses with multiple locations

    At Connected Business last month, Countrywide’s Senior Infrastructure Designer, Information Technology, Adam Beadsmoore, spoke about how unified communications has transformed communication for the property services business.

    The challenge of multiple locations
    Large businesses with multiple sites present very complex communications challenges and Countrywide is no different.

    Countrywide employs over 10,000 people in 1,100 locations nationwide, under 46 different local high street brands that undertake sales, lettings and management of commercial and residential property.

    Beadsmoore highlighted some big stats on the legacy communications system. The business was using 1,100 standalone ageing telephony systems and more than 12,000 PSTN telephone lines. Together with limited contact centre capability, different suppliers and virtually no reporting capability or disaster recovery strategy, this resulted in a number of lost calls, which needed to be addressed.

    Immediate results with MiVoice and MiContact Centre Enterprise
    It’s easy to understand why, faced with this complexity, a unified communications solution appealed to the business. After meeting Mitel at IP Expo London, a pilot was rolled out using Mitel MiVoice in 25 Countrywide lettings branches.

    The MiContact Centre Enterprise solution was also set up in Mansfield, with branch PSTN numbers redirected to a data centre, and rerouted after 15 seconds to the overflow contact centre.

    The results were immediate, with no more lost calls, branch deployment was easy (requiring only Mitel IP handsets and a Wide Area Network) and a new, centrally managed call routing system. The Countrywide board bought into the solution straight away and the pilot was increased to over 40 branches.

    Benefiting from a single, centralised communications solution
    Following the pilot phase, a full roll-out is now underway, with 25 branches a week being deployed; ensuring a modern communications approach across the entire Countrywide business of 1,100 sites. This will eventually include a total of two VMware data centres, all 10,000+ employees using Mitel’s resilient virtualised MiVoice solution and 1,120 agents benefiting from the integrated MiContact Centre Enterprise.

    The benefits, according to Beadsmoore, have been significant. As a property business with employees regularly out of the branch and on the go, having an agile workforce that can work from anywhere and hot desk at any site, is of huge value.

    As Countrywide continues to evolve with new branches and services, the ability to deploy to new sites and employees very quickly is a big benefit. Meanwhile, the business can manage and report on performance on a national level, make enterprise contact centre capability available to all locations and offer 24/7 branch services.

    Plans for the future
    Beadsmoore was clear in his presentation; the Mitel solution has provided a fantastic foundation to grow and develop the business’ communications infrastructure.  And this is exactly what they plan to do, through a full Mitel unified communications solution including presence, one number per user across multiple devices, video and document sharing all in the pipeline.

    In addition, Countrywide is planning to expand its contact centre multi-channel offering with web chat, email, social media monitoring, integration with business applications and a 24/7 customer facing service offering.