This content is sponsored by Mitel

Sponsored by Mitel

This content was produced by Boston Globe Media's BG BrandLab in collaboration with the advertiser. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its production or display.

This one decision could make or break your business

What could a boarding school, a medical supplies company, and a senior living facility have in common? Their technology approach to customer service.

Running a major medical supply company means managing a lot of smaller moving parts—and at Cape Medical Supply in Sandwich, that includes thousands of square feet filled with everything from hospital beds to oxygen products to orthopedic splints and braces.

However, no matter how neatly organized the beds, splints, and oxygen masks are, if a hospital or nursing home can’t keep track of everything they’ve ordered, and their calls aren’t returned, and their questions go unanswered for days, no amount of organization will save the supplier. And patients will ultimately suffer.

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For a company like Cape Medical Supply, which recently celebrated 40 years in business, nothing is more important to helping patients recover than fast, efficient customer service with those facilities that need their help.

Those crucial tracking and communication tools aren’t stored in a giant warehouse. And they’re far too complicated for an office manager to handle with an old-school paper filing system. The tools Cape Medical Supply needs to thrive—data storage, voice messaging, video conferencing, mobile services—exist in one place: the cloud.

Transforming customer service one step at a time

“If you run a health-focused business like ours, you need to constantly track and analyze how you are communicating with hospitals, healthcare companies, clinicians, and customers who need training in how to use our equipment,” says Gary Sheehan, CEO of Cape Medical Supply, whose parents started the company out of their garage in Mashpee in 1977. “I often refer to our communications system as a highway. With a cloud communications system, we can ramp up or add features as we need them. It’s flexible and, ultimately, when we really use all of the capabilities, it will allow us to be proactive instead of reactive.”

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The scale of what today’s powerful cloud-based, unified communications systems can do is spectacular (in the industry, it’s commonly known as UCaaS). Still, Zeus Kerravala, an industry expert, says it is not unusual for companies to move at their own pace. Just because predictions show that cloud communications services could be a $30-billion-dollar business by 2020, individual companies don’t have to transition at lightning speed—they should move at the pace that feels right for their business.

“It has to be done thoughtfully and sustainably,” says Kerravala.

That’s one reason why Cape Medical Supply chose to use Mitel’s cloud-based communications service: With Mitel, Cape Medical Supply can grow, contain costs, and track the satisfaction of customers and partners at a pace that suits their business. The family-owned business serves patients in four New England states and is growing quickly, says Sheehan. In the near future, the company will begin to rely more deeply on the analytics and data Mitel offers.

While Cape Medical Supply can already quickly reference a training or sales call for details, they are beginning to use Mitel’s services to track high-volume call times and supply sales to help cut costs and be more efficient.

A critical next step for Cape Medical is to use Mitel to unify and organize the mass of customer service data the company collects across its mobile and online platforms. That data will help its evolution toward becoming a leader in medical supplies across New England, which is quite a journey from that Mashpee garage.

A new system fosters new growth

Here’s a bit of surprising news: Millennials may be fueling the growth of many digital technologies, but another segment is playing a huge role too: businesses serving senior populations.

In the six years since LCB Senior Living began to scale its luxury independent and assisted living communities—which total 17 currently with five more in the works—it’s had to find a way to quickly and efficiently scale a communications system that serves all of its complex needs. Running a multi-state assisted living operation is a 24/7/365 operation—downtime does not exist, between food services, medical care, housing needs, scheduled activities, and more—which means communication has to be constant and easy.

Ted Doyle, director of corporate marketing and public affairs, who has been with the company for 20 years, says embracing a cloud-based communications system has been one of the biggest game-changers for LCB.

Assisted living spaces have become increasingly sophisticated and using Mitel has allowed the company workforce to grow and spread out along the East coast without struggling to maintain or upgrade sometimes cumbersome locally wired systems.

“A hybrid-cloud system, like the one many of our clients use, offers the advantage of both on-premises and cloud-based platforms” says Jeremy Vignaux, vice president of technology at Harbor Networks in Framingham.

Mitel allows a growing company with different locations to house certain servers internally and leverage the cloud for others. “Our sales and customer service staff need to be mobile and still stay networked,” explains Doyle of LCB. “We can turn on phones and route calls with little to no downtime. The information we need is available instantly so that our team can collaborate and stay continually updated.”  

Moving a traditional campus into the cloud

What could a senior living center, a medical supplies business and a traditional, 140-year-old New England boarding school possibly have in common?

They all have complicated communications needs, spread across multiple buildings, multiple cities, and even multiple states, and their businesses operate around the clock, meaning it’s just as important at 11 p.m. or 11 a.m. And for all of them, despite very different business models, their staff, clients, and patients, come first.

At Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts, Director of Information Technology Timothy Frey admits that many teachers and staff have no idea of the investment they’ve made in communications.

“It’s that seamless,” he says.

The suburban college preparatory school founded in 1876 made a big switch several years ago, realized that sticking with slow and steady solutions alone wouldn’t keep their 200 staff members connected at the speed they needed. They enlisted Mitel, opting for a hybrid system, to upgrade parts of their communications to the cloud. The virtual extensions and listings were done in what Frey refers to as ‘practically the flip of a switch’ but with the safety and security the school environment demands.

Surveys like one done by Statista, show that the size of the cloud communications platform market worldwide is more than double in the next five years, surpassing $4 billion.

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Vignaux, whose Harbor Networks team helped deploy the cloud solutions for Cape Medical Supply, LCB, and Tabor, says companies often tend to hold off until a new service has been tested and tried out for a few years. But as more businesses take a hard look at their legacy phone systems and realize all of its shortcomings, and what advantages they are missing out on, they are switching to a cloud-based system that can grow as they grow.

Kerravala says that patient approach will pay off for companies when it comes time to pivot from a traditional to a cloud-based communications system, and improve their customer relations. “That’s when it will drive revenue,” he says, “and work to future-proof a company.”

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To learn more about how cloud-based communications systems can help your business, visit mitel.com and harbornetworks.com.

This content was produced by Boston Globe Media's BG BrandLab in collaboration with the advertiser. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its production or display.