Switching telecommunications providers helped Pieroth Wines to streamline its operations in Australia while cutting its monthly phone bill by several thousand dollars.
Communications are critical for the wine seller, according to Pieroth Wines director of finance and administration, Bjoern Strassburger.
"A lot of our business is done over the phone," including setting up wine tasting appointments across Australia, he told Computerworld Australia. "It's very critical to have no downtime [and] high voice quality."
Pieroth began as a winery in Germany before expanding into a multinational company. The company has had offices in Australia since 1972, located in Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
Strassburger said Pieroth's previous communications vendor, Verizon, was not providing the proactive and personalised support that the wine business expected, he said.
"We're not the biggest business in Australia," but "you could almost feel that we were not important enough for [Verizon]."
"Whenever we had any issue here--in terms of downtime [or] phones not working--it took literally ages" to find any resolution, he said.
It was difficult to reach support and Strassburger said he'd often get transferred among Verizon offices in multiple countries before getting help. Technicians wouldn't show up until the next day, "which is just not acceptable if you rely on phoning."
In addition, Verizon cost "a lot of money," said Strassburger, estimating the service to cost $25,000 per month.
A Verizon spokesman responded: "Verizon is committed to excellence in customer service, and works with all its global customers to deliver services that fit their specific, but evolving, business needs. Our customer service team is available 24/7 to respond directly to any specific issues."
At the end of 2011, Strassburger began looking for replacement that would save money and provide low downtime and high voice quality. Importantly, he wanted to "feel actively taken care of."
Pieroth Wines considered three vendors for the job: TPG, Eaton Group and Azzurri Communications.
"Eaton Group was too expensive and they simply did not understand what we needed," Strassburger said. It was a closer call between TPG and Azzurri, which promised the same price, he said. In the end, Azzurri better demonstrated that they understood Pieroth's needs and cared about smaller businesses, he said.
Azzurri provided a VoIP network connecting all of Pieroth's offices around Australia. It has been running since July 2012, and has already saved thousands of dollars. Strassburger estimated he is paying about a third of the $25,000 per month that he was paying Verizon.
The new interconnected network has allowed Pieroth to centralise its IT management in one location, Strassburger said. It has also enabled file sharing among offices and later this year will allow local offices to process customer orders, he said.
"The next step is for us to have a live order entry system set up so our sales reps can take orders at customers' homes."
Strassburger said it took about four to five months implementing the Azzurri system. There were slight delays switching over to the new network, resulting in Pieroth paying Verizon for "another couple of months." In addition, number porting from the old Verizon numbers is still incomplete, he said.
However, Strassburger said overall the transition was "pretty well managed" with little downtime, he said.
Members of the sales staff have reported improved call quality, and the company has experienced fewer outages than previously, Strassburger said. Support has significantly improved, Strassburger said.
"Azzurri is proactively monitoring everything and whenever something comes up they let us know."
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