Winner of the Best UK Vets 2017, Penmellyn Veterinary Group in Cornwall links six sites with a cost-effective wide area network and centralised telephone system.
This group of six veterinary practices is headed up by a flagship central hospital in St Columb Major with the other five located in Newquay, Redruth, Bodmin, St Austell and Padstow. Penmellyn’s practice manager contacted South West Communications Group to request our help as they were experiencing a lot of dropped calls, which meant they were losing business. Their telephony and wide area network (WAN) contract with their current provider was coming to an end and although they had received a quote from them, they were keen to look at other options, due to failings in the service they were being provided and the high upgrade costs quoted by the incumbent provider.
One of our senior account managers visited Penmellyn and identified they were keen to invest in a replacement data network to support a single telephone system to connect all their sites that would allow the business to work as a single integrated unit. swcomms recommended replacement solution not only meets the businesses current and future requirements, but had the added bonus that it would save Penmellyn more than £13,000 per year.
The replacement private WAN comprised a primary 100Mbps leased line connection at St Columb which is supported on a 24/7-basis with a four-hour fix service level agreement. This gives them centralised internet access protected by a managed firewall. The rest of the sites are served by the best internet services available in each respective location, including ethernet over fibre to the cabinet (EoFTTC). As the new WAN was designed to carry voice and data services, it meant the existing virtual private network (VPN) could be ceased.
Savings with SIP
We also replaced the existing telephone system lines with a centralised SIP service enabling calls to be answered and routed to any location connected to the network. SIP provides significantly reduced channel rentals and free calls to UK landline and mobile numbers saving more than £300 on their previous monthly call costs. Penmellyn retained all their existing telephone numbers, including direct dial-in (DDIs) numbers that enable individual extension users to have their own direct number to relieve workload on their receptionists. DDIs also enables staff to receive calls specifically for themselves when working out of office hours, without being disturbed by answering calls and taking messages for colleagues.
Automated attendant functionality ensures every call is answered immediately and then directed to the most appropriate department. In Penmellyn’s case, it asks callers to: “Press1 for pets, 2 for equine or 3 for referrals.” Automated night mode allows all calls to be presented for St Columb to be picked up. Dynamic hunt groups allow for the overflow of calls between sites, e.g. for when one practice is particularly busy, to ensure they never miss a call or lose out on any business. Centralised music-on-hold can be changed to provide a recorded group-wide corporate message to give clients an update on latest practice news or events.
Alcatel-Lucent Omni PCX CONNECT
Calls can be transferred to external numbers, including mobiles, which means any vets working off site, on farms, at stables or at clients’ homes, will remain contactable. In fact, the Alcatel-Lucent Omni PCX CONNECT supports the ability to twin mobile phones with desk handsets for instant call transfers. Selected members of staff use softphones which integrate their desk PC or laptop with their telephone handset to give them full call control, call setup, feature keys, call logs and voicemail.
Selective call recording can also be used when members of staff feel they may need to record a conversation so they can play back any important detail. Voicemail was configured for all members of staff including the ability to deliver voicemail notification to email thereby allowing for a convenient method of message retrieval and rapid responses.
The entire solution is managed centrally via a Windows-based tool allowing for moves, adds and changes to be made immediately without the expense and potential delay caused by calling in engineers.
Since deployment, the swcomms designated project manager, who acted as single point of contact throughout, has handed over responsibility for Penmellyn to one of our dedicated account managers. They keep in regular contact with the practice manager to inform them of any technological advancements they may benefit from but also to address any issues they may have.