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Vodafone: Delivering a gold standard unified communications service

For a company with a commitment to business customers, being awarded its Cisco gold status is very important

Vodafone Ireland has become one of only five companies in Ireland to be able to offer Cisco Gold level sales, support and services to enterprise customers as a result of being awarded the prestigious Cisco Gold Partner status.

"Achieving this status is a recognition of our experience and excellence in terms of Cisco skills, capabilities and customer experience and it highlights Vodafone Ireland as a leading provider of unified communications to business customers in the Irish market," says Vodafone Ireland enterprise director Anne Sheehan.

According to Sheehan, the award will have its greatest impact on Vodafone’s customers. “While we are intensely proud of having achieved this status, the most important aspect of it is the enhanced level of service we will be able to offer our business customers.”

This importance is in large part due to the fact that the majority of large enterprises are heavily dependent on Cisco technology to carry their internal-office traffic, to manage their access to the internet, to provide unified communications and contact centre to service their customers.

They can now rely on Vodafone to support all of these services.

Unified communications is perhaps the most critical of these.

Critical technology
This technology is becoming critical to the efficient operation of modern international businesses as it integrates all communication services such as instant messaging, presence information, telephony, video conferencing, data, call centre operations, speech recognition, voicemail, email, fax and every other form of messaging on one platform.

Using such a platform an individual can send a message or make a call on one medium and receive a response on another.

For example, a voicemail can be read as an email or a text message while an email can be listened to on the telephone.

“It allows an organisation to always be able to get in touch with the right people at the right time wherever they may be,” Sheehan says. “This improves productivity and responsiveness.”

Vodafone’s mobile offering makes this service all the more compelling.

“Our unique differentiation is our mobile heritage particularly when it combined with 4G,” Sheehan says. “This ensures that our customers can operate at any time regardless of location.

“When they are out of the office they can recreate the office completely seamlessly. It’s about making the end user more productive and mobile is absolutely critical to that.”

She points out that mobile can add an extra dimension to the mix.

“It can add interesting services such as video on the move, screen-sharing, instant messaging and direct-order fulfilment. Very few customers now don’t need a mobile workforce in one way or another.

“Take Ryanair, for example; they can see which staff member might be available through Cisco’s Jabber instant messaging service.

"What's different is that Ryanair can integrate its fixed and mobile phone systems making their response time much quicker," Sheehan adds. "This will ultimately deliver a more seamless experience for their customers."

Customer service
All of this has particular relevance for customer service.

“About 80 per cent of Irish businesses say that customer service is a top priority. Vodafone can now create opportunities that will introduce real unified communications to Irish businesses to help them get closer to their customers.

“Leveraging Cisco’s market- leading solutions and our deep expertise in mobility, we are enabling our customers to rethink their current way of doing business by unifying communications from the contact centre to the mobile ‘road warrior’, utilising video and messaging on the move from a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device.

“These are the tools and the real-time benefits that enable Irish businesses to respond to and reach their end customers much faster.”

The partnership with Cisco brings more than just products to the mix.

“Cisco is a great partner to have,” Sheehan says.

“They are constantly innovating and challenging the market. They continually push things forward in areas like social media integration and security. Our customers will benefit from that.”

Cisco also sees the value of having Vodafone as a partner. "I'm genuinely delighted that Vodafone has secured gold-level certification," says Cisco Ireland country manager Adam Grennan.

“Together Vodafone and Cisco have a very strong proposition in a world that’s turned mobile. The ability to communicate anytime, from any location and on any device in a secure way is central to the needs of the customers of both companies.

“I look forward to strengthening the working relationship even further with the Vodafone team in the coming weeks and months.”

Stringent audit
To achieve the gold status Vodafone, had to undergo a stringent audit of its Cisco business across a variety of areas including personnel, technical specialisations and accreditations, customer-satisfaction management, support labs, demonstration facilities and skills, project management, design, recruitment, training, service management, spares, business continuity, change management, incident and problem management and continuous improvement.

“It’s a great achievement on the part of everyone involved,” Sheehan says, “but we can’t afford to rest on our laurels or be complacent in any way.

“The challenge now is to maintain this level and realise the full potential of the partnership for the benefit of our customers.”

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