Social Security Administration Processes 500 Millionth Call Through Modernized Phone System

On the morning of June 16, the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) processed its 500 millionth call through its Telephone System Replacement Program (TRSP)-driven modernized telecom system.

It was a milestone for Social Security, which began the TSRP with Avaya in 2007 and just celebrated its 80th birthday in August.

Social Security had long relied on a conventional, old-school PBX phone framework. Each of the agency’s 1,600+ offices had individual PBXs, and almost all had products that were nearing, or had reached, end of life.

“We were scrambling just trying to find parts,” explained Todd Markulik, the SSA’s contracting officer’s technical representative.. “We looked at our future, and realized a Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony solution would be a good fit for us as a way to really create a nationwide network.”

The agency worked with Avaya to create a cutting-edge IP telephony network and manage its average 400,000 daily calls. The SSA recognized the need to future-proof its system with an impending influx of Baby Boomers coming of age for Social Security.

Through the TSRP, SSA was able to streamline and consolidate systems, and cut costs by as much as 50 percent depending on office location.

“Previously, we had somewhere between 20 and 45 analog lines from a local phone company, and we were being charged $35 to $40 a month per line,” Markulik said. “When we moved to VoIP, we eliminated all but maybe eight of those lines.”

The carrier-grade, enterprise solution is government-owned and Avaya-managed, end-to-end. It features leading technology, from Network Skills Based Routing to Dynamic Virtual Forward, and gives the agency redundancies that help it support contact centers in four regions of the United States seamlessly. As a result, the agency was able to get through Hurricane Sandy, and major blizzards and storms without an incident.

The future of Social Security’s technology looks just as bright. Markulik pointed toward plans for an increase in soft phones, teleworking and VoIP capabilities in the near future.

“We’re well-positioned for the future,” he explained.

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Midmarket companies (500 or fewer employees) across Latin America are leading the region’s digital transformation in the workplace. Unified Communications is migrating from being seen as a business enabler to being seen as a standalone competitive advantage—be that through speed to market or even the generation of brand new services. For midmarket businesses developing and harnessing these advantages, Avaya IP Office™ 10 is a significant advancement.

Release 10 of IP Office, Avaya’s award-winning Unified Communications platform, integrates customer premise and cloud advantages for a secure, redundant and intuitive communications platform.

This exciting new release brings:

  • Enhanced security and resiliency
  • Easier management and deployment with a cloud, on-premises, or hybrid approach
  • Richer user experience
  • Increased capacity and performance—now supporting five to 3,000 users

Two of these advantages that we’re especially proud of: enhanced security and end user experience. We’ve built encryption into both media and signaling. In particular, this is a big deal for those interested in cloud, which brings a new layer of security concerns.

On the user experience side, we’re adding support for two desktop devices:

Avaya IP Office 10 opens a number of APIs to make it easier for developers to create WebRTC-based clients and to simplify configuration and deployment for partners. Virtual meeting functions have been streamlined and strengthened with WebRTC audio and richer collaboration capabilities.

After 14 years of continued refinement and over half a million happy customers worldwide, it is fair to say that Avaya IP Office 10 is an excellent and proven choice for midsize companies, further validated by Frost and Sullivan’s 2015 Award for Growth Excellence in Latin America. Learn more in our podcast.

IP Office Leads the Way: How Doubling Down in One Product Area Can Drive Best Practices

Just over a month ago, we released the latest version of Avaya IP Office, one of the most popular SMB/MM UC systems on the market today. Over the past year, we’ve doubled the number of partners who are offering IP Office as a cloud deployment and have now shipped more than half a million systems globally—but this kind of success didn’t come overnight.

We’ve evolved Avaya IP Office a long way over the years, growing the product from something geared towards the SMB space (typically 100 users and below) to something that can scale all the way up to the midmarket, serving up to 3,000 users. Adding this scale to the product was extremely important because as our customers and partners grow, we can now grow right along with them. It also opens up the potential market served by the product.

Evolving with Our Customers and Partners

At Avaya, we have two groups of people to keep happy—our end users and our channel partners—and both want to make long-term investments in a communications solution and trusted business partner. That’s why, instead of concentrating on multiple product lines, we’re focused on continually enhancing Avaya IP Office with new features and capabilities, such as the new release 10, which adds a number benefits for businesses in terms of security, resiliency and end-user experience.

Our partners are happy with this approach because their salespeople now only need to know one single product, making it easier to sell, manage and configure the technology for a wide range of businesses (anywhere from a 10-person to 3,000-person company). And our customers are thrilled because as they expand and evolve, they have a flexible, scalable communications solution that can still meet their every need.

Businesses can even expand the solution into a simple and robust multi-channel call center. With IP Office Contact Center or Avaya Contact Center Select, companies can integrate voice, e-mail, and web chat channels, and proactively manage the entire customer interaction lifecycle. They can start at their own pace with one channel such as voice, for example, and add other channels such as e-mail as business objectives evolve. In June, Avaya also announced a highly affordable, simple-to-deploy workforce optimization solution that enables a wide range of insights into the customer experience, allowing midsize businesses to create the most value through every customer interaction.

Providing Investment Protection

While many businesses are aware of cloud, not everyone wants it right now. Because Avaya IP Office is offered as a cloud, hybrid cloud, or premises based deployment, businesses can move to the cloud at a more measured pace—adding new features and capabilities from the cloud as they become available or needed, and leveraging the investment they have in a premises deployment.

For instance, a business could start with an IP Office solution today on premises, and then migrate to cloud or hybrid cloud in a year or even five years from now—and all the features and training they’ve given to employees will stay exactly the same because the end-user experience will be the same.

Providing further investment protection, Avaya even allows customers running on old Nortel technology to seamlessly move their user licenses to IP Office at minimal cost.

A Relentless Focus on Quality

Doubling down in one product area has also allowed Avaya to put a premium on quality. Today, Avaya’s Net Promoter Score (NPS)—a measure of the willingness of a customer to recommend a company’s products or services to others—hovers around 58, which is considered excellent in almost any industry. The Net Promoter Score for IP Office has been over 70 for the last several quarters.

This sky-high NPS is all the more impressive when you consider Avaya IP Office is for small 10-user customers and larger 3,000-user customers. This ability to meet high- and low-end needs is pretty unique in the industry, and is only achievable because of the company’s relentless focus on quality and features.

Always striving to understand the needs of our customers, we’re constantly adding new enhancements to IP Office. Leveraging much of the knowledge and experience we learned at the enterprise-level with Avaya Aura, we continue to add usability and resiliency to IP Office. In fact, the latest version of the platform features built-in signaling and media encryption for endpoints and UC clients, helping preserve privacy and data integrity. This increase in security is especially significant to the midmarket, where the number of attacks reported by midsize companies increased 64% between 2013 and 2014, according to the 2015 global survey report.

Beyond other pure cloud deployments, the latest version of IP Office also takes a unique approach to resilience, providing system failover cloud to cloud, cloud to premises, premises to cloud, and premises to premises, keeping your system active and users connected through any outage.

Moving forward, we’ll continue to add enhancements to Avaya IP Office, relentlessly driving quality and features for our growing list of customers and partners.

Yanmar America Jump Starts VOIP System with IP Office

Yanmar America didn’t have a choice when it came to upgrading its aging VOIP systems. Its legacy solution was, quite simply, at the end of life and lacked essential features like call center and call reporting functions. The multinational engine manufacturing corporation also needed to support mobile executives as they traveled overseas.

It was time to send the legacy system to the scrap heap and bring in VOIP that would grow with the business, and with that in mind, Yanmar America’s IT team chose Avaya IP Office, one-X Mobile, 9608G IP Deskphones, and B179 Conference Phones. This completely new telecommunications engine addressed:

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  • Implementing call center and call reporting functions. Having these functions would make it possible for Yanmar to provide parts and service to existing customers.
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Yanmar and Avaya deployed the new system in parallel with the old, a huge help for testing purposes and staying on top of user registrations. The cutover took place on a Friday night, beginning at 5 p.m. By 9 p.m. that same night, the IT team was headed home for the weekend, and on Monday morning, the users had their new phones already programmed and ready to use. Some of the immediate benefits of the new system include:

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  • $23,000 saved annually on third-party consultants and VoIP hosting.

“We won’t be challenged with an end-of-life, end-of-support issue or predicament like we were with the old system,” said Brian Williams, IT Manager, Yanmar America. “We’re confident it will be here tomorrow and well into the future, and that we have a solution in place that will grow with our business.”

Click here to read the full case study from Avaya.