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Westminster City School

swcomms creates 50% savings on Westminster City School’s telephone phone bills with the installation of a new VoIP system and the migration and upgrade of its lines.


Westminster City School is a voluntary aided Christian school in London, for 11 to 18-year-old boys plus a mixed sixth form. Westminster has nearly 800 students on its roll call.


Westminster had been using a Centrex telephone system provided by Westminster City Council. This technology-embracing school was keen to move away from the Centrex system so it could gain ownership and control over its main communications tool and could make use of modern features afforded by more up-to-date telephone solutions, such as automated attendant and site-wide voicemail capabilities. The School wanted to make use of VoIP technology as its local area network infrastructure, provided by Capita, was already primed for voice. Westminster was also keen to control their crippling lines and call costs but as all of their numbers were right in the middle of the Centrex direct dial-in (DDI) range provided to schools throughout the borough, they were unable to move these numbers to a new service. As a result, Westminster needed a migration plan that would allow parents and other contacts to get used to a new set of numbers.


Alcatel-Lucent VoIP solution
With 30+ years experience in the education sector, we were recommended to Westminster. We deployed an Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch Business Edition (OTBE) telephone system with IP handsets for 60 extensions to replace the mismatch of the basic legacy analogue handsets which did not offer the features the School required. The IP handsets all offer voicemail, dial-by-name and tannoy capabilities as well as a number of programmable soft keys that could be tailored to suit individuals needs. An automated attendant provides one of the most sought after call filtering tools used by schools to prevent receptionists being overloaded with high volumes of calls.


Westminster’s automated attendant invites callers to choose from four options: absence line, admissions, reception and finance. Once the caller has selected the option most relevant to them, the call is directed to most appropriate member of staff. The absence line is particularly useful in relieving the stress experienced by reception staff first thing in the morning. Parents can leave messages regarding pupils’ absence at any time before or after the school opens for the day allowing parents to call in at a time that suits them and preventing the bottleneck of calls that can occur. The messages can then be dealt with at a time that is more suitable time. Voicemail-to-email was introduced to streamline the message-taking process which had become burdensome for reception staff. Voicemails are automatically saved as an audio file and sent to the member of staff’s email account to be listened to at their earliest convenience. This goes a long way to eliminating the need for paper messages that can be easily mislaid.


The migration of line services to swcomms saw the provision of 12 ISDN30 channels and 60 new DDI numbers. By moving from the Centrex system, Westminster had to adopt a new raft of numbers so a ceased number announcement was placed on the voicemail of the old main number. As a further reminder, the receptionists are able to identify which callers, through caller line identity afforded by the ISDN lines, had used the legacy numbers to call the School so they could personally remind them of the number change.


Savings on line services
Ongoing cost savings have been achieved by swapping to our lines & minutes service. Westminster have saved an average of £7,000 a year in both line rental and call charges by switching to us. swcomms’ competitive, tracker call tariffs are capped for the duration of the contract so Westminster will never have to pay more than they expected to and can set aside this budget for another use. Furthermore, the lines & minutes service includes fraud monitoring and call cost analysis is available via a web-based billing platform that is updated daily. Westminster has found the breakdown of calls and costs per line particularly useful.


Effective project management and a quick installation was crucial in terms of working with Capita to deploy the VoIP solution and to ensure all the work was carried out in just one week during the summer holidays. This ensured the School experienced minimum disruption and could launch its new number range in time for the start of the academic year. swcomms also took care to use one of its DBS-checked engineers to meet the Westminster’s third party requirements.


Ongoing support is provided by a service desk and technical support team as well as a team of geographically dispersed engineers who are there to deal with any issues that should arise with Westminster’s telephone system. Any concerns are reported to the service desk and faults are remotely assessed within one hour of the fault log time. If the fault cannot be fixed remotely, an engineer will attend the School within four hours for a major fault.


John Mason, Westminster City School’s IT manager, said: “swcomms were very helpful and professional from the outset in helping us regain the ownership and control of our telephone system while creating ongoing call savings in the process. While this meant changing all our telephone numbers, this was a seamless process and the numbers have been swiftly adopted by parents and other callers.”


Download case study here