Level 3 Communications

Anthony Christie

How Being Our Own “Beta Test” Helped Us Develop a Better Solution and Benefit Our Customers

There’s no question complexity in the workplace is accelerating, with BYOD, skyrocketing data transmissions, and a workforce on the move and operating outside traditional corporate offices. The bottom line is agile business demands a simpler, faster way to communicate.

Recognizing that what many enterprises lack to meet today’s accelerating communications needs is a flexible yet comprehensive voice solution, in 2013 we launched Level 3 Voice Complete, a globally-scalable voice and collaboration solution with an array of built-in features.

But as we prepared to launch, it became clear that Level 3 was facing the same challenges and system limitations as our customers; namely how to: deliver workforce efficiencies and mobility, standardize and integrate tools and applications, streamline communications networks, and leverage existing investments while preparing for new technology. We were, in fact, a perfect Voice Complete “customer.”

So the decision was made to start migrating our own systems as soon as the Voice Complete platform was ready.

Implementing Internally and Lessons Learned

To date, we’ve transitioned over 95 of our sites and more than 50,000 telephone numbers to Voice Complete. You might think transitioning to a new voice platform would be straight forward for a telecom company. But introducing technological change into any large organization presents challenges, and Murphy has a way of showing up despite the best laid plans.

“Speed-bumps” we’ve encountered include:

  • Complexities arising from upgrading our UC&C platforms from Microsoft Lync 2010 and Lync 2013 to Skype for Business simultaneous to migrating our overall systems.
  • Insufficient user-group training documentation and trained resources to support each stage of the implementation and activation processes.
  • The need to integrate and manage a multitude of different voice technologies resulting from mergers and organic growth.
  • Limited self-service options for measuring, reporting and service changes.

Working to overcome these challenges allowed us to identify gaps that might have affected customer experience. By utilizing our own environment as a test bed, we’ve made enhancements throughout the solution to help deliver on our customer experience promise, including:

  • Ensuring the underlying Voice Complete platform functions regardless of the UC&C application running over the top.
  • Adding more resources to the critical phases of deployment to help customers ramp their service faster and reach return-on-investment markers.
  • Deploying professional services experts to support large telephone number migrations (feature set mapping, documentation, technology audits, transition planning, etc.).
  • Certified interoperability with all major PBXs and other telephony equipment, without requiring reconfiguration or the addition of on-premise equipment.
  • Equipping customers with more self-enabling options and better reporting.
  • Improving uptime by ensuring multiple layers of redundancy are inherent to the Voice Complete network design.

Our “lessons learned” – and the resulting course corrections – ultimately strengthened our offer to our customers. And we’ve been able to validate our claims to customers around Voice Complete lowering total cost of ownership and creating an agnostic platform for UC&C applications. The conversion has saved significant operational and capital expenditures. For each POTs line we disconnect we save an estimated $100 a month. We’ve saved several hundred thousand dollars annually in maintenance by deactivating older equipment. It has reduced the burden of maintenance of multiple platforms and older technologies for our IT resources, and simplified the process for turning up new sites and optimizing real estate.

Transformation is a Journey, Not a Single Event

For Level 3 and businesses everywhere, the digital transformation continues. Voice Complete is now a multi-continent offer that extends CCP pooling and all features, and plans are underway to transition 75 more sites this year, including our offices in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Our next steps for improvement center on making it easier for our sales people to quote and order the Voice Complete solution to customers. Simplified processes make our sales force happy, and we’ve found that when they’re happy, our customers are happier, too.  And ultimately, that’s what this is all about, satisfied customers.

Let our voice, UC&C and UCaaS solutions help drive your business forward while simplifying your operating environment.

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Anthony’s day and night job is Chief Marketing Officer at Level 3. His team is responsible for product development, product management, corporate marketing and customer experience globally. To unwind, he does as much as he can outdoors with his family and plays drums.