Hosted PBX helps Canadian staffing firm gain time, lower costs

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Gaining additional work hours, while saving on operational costs is probably every manager’s dream.

A Canadian staffing agency says it has accomplished just that by taking advantage of a hosted Private Business eXchange (PBX) service offered by Toronto-based Primus Telecommunications Canada Inc.

By using the PBX service to unify its reception desks, Cadre Staffing Inc. says it’s been able to transcend time-zone limitations and “gain a total of four extra work hours” each day at its Toronto and Calgary offices.

For instance, if a customer were to call Cadre’s Calgary office before the doors open at 8 a.m., he or she would still be able to speak to a company representative rather than hear a pre-recorded voice message.

That’s because the system automatically switches the call to the firm’s Toronto branch which, because of the time zone difference, would have been operating two hours earlier, a Cadre Staffing spokesperson explained.

“This way, the Calgary branch gains two hours before it even opens and the Toronto office gains two hours after it closes, says Michael Berlin, corporate technical recruiter, Cadre Staffing.

The Primus service also provided the company with considerable savings compared to the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communications system they previously had, according to Berlin. “At a per seat cost, we are probably saving seven to 10 per cent.”

The recruiting firm, whose staff heavily relied on telephone communications, had to ditch their earlier VoIP system because of recurring reliability issues.

“We were frequently getting echoes on the telephone lines and numerous dropped calls. Downtime would be anywhere from minutes to hours. In our line of work that is simply not acceptable,” said Berlin.

Cadre “struggled” with its VoIP provider for about a year.

The company decided to try out Primus’ hosted PBX service this February.

A PBX is a dedicated telephone exchange that serves a particular business, as opposed to a common carrier or telephone company that functions for the general public.

The system enables firms to save on in-house calling costs by having the exchange or switching of calls done locally within the office.

Primus offers a fully managed service for companies that do not want to install their own PBX infrastructure, said A.J. Byers, senior president, business services, Primus.

“Our system requires minimal capital outlay since all hardware, installation, maintenance expenses, as well as long distance charges between offices are included in the cost of service.”

The system can also be scaled to suit various organizations, and costs anywhere from $29.95 to $59.95 per month, per seat.

The Primus Hosted PBX service is available in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, London, Hamilton and Kitchener.

Primus uses a telecommunications system that can transmit voice and data between phone lines and computers are a rate of 1.544 megabits per second.

The voice transmission is not mixed with other traffic on the Internet, and is therefore not exposed to viruses, congestion and delays, Byers said.

As maintaining open communication channels with job seeking and job providing clients is crucial to Cadre Staffing, Berlin said he values the system’s automatic routing features.

For instance, if an inbound call is disconnected, that call is automatically re-routed through the Internet to a cell phone, soft phone, home phone, or voice mail.

Cadre Staffing agents sometimes move around the firm’s 16 locations and may also work from home.

With the Primus system, employees are able to maintain their original telephone numbers even when moving from one location to another.

“We don’t need to scramble around providing our customers with new numbers and home-based workers appear as though they are working in our central office,” said Berlin.

Flexibility and inexpensive operations are key advantages of hosted PBX services according to Kevin Restivo, analyst, SeaBoard Group, in Toronto.

Hosted PBX services provide small- and medium-scale businesses (SMBs) with “a large enterprise feel” at a minimal cost, he said.

Restivo said hosted services enable companies to incorporate such capabilities as unified messaging, call screening and auto attendant features without installing costly hardware.

The service, however, is not ideal for all organizations, he said.

“Hosted PBX services are often geared towards SMBs. Large corporations that want greater control over their communication operations often [deploy] an in-house system.”

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