Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) Case Study
Industrial Piping Specialists Expands Local Presence (Cont'd)
Office@Hand is a perfect solution for us. It allows IPS to enter a market so much faster than before - in days versus weeks.”
Frank Church, Systems Manager, Industrial Piping Specialists
About Industrial Piping
Industrial Piping Facts
Expand into new markets quickly while providing the service customers expect
AT&T Office@Hand cloud-based business phone system supports a local sales force presence
Personalized customer service; quick entry into new markets; increased productivity for sales; “too good to be true” cost structure
Piping materials for petrochemical and construction industries
Mid-sized company with nine locations in four states
Industrial Piping Specialists, Inc. (IPS) is a distributor of pipe, fittings, flanges and valves serving the petrochemical and general construction industries. Headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this privately owned company founded in 1986 has expanded to nine locations in four states. IPS operates over 100 acres of pipe yard and 250,000 square feet of warehouse space in Texas, Louisiana, Wyoming, and its home state of Oklahoma.
IPS was looking to expand into the Colorado market with a local sales professional supported by its Casper, Wyoming location. The company needed a communications solution that would extend its local presence and provide a personalized way of handling customer calls. All options IPS considered were either too costly or did not meet its high-level of customer service standards.
The AT&T Office@Hand mobile phone system provides IPS with robust communications functionality to keep its remote salespeople productive while caring for customers who call in for support. Based on the cloud platform, IPS finds Office@Hand is easy and quick to implement, and allows the company to maintain a local presence in new markets.
A Powerful Presence
Industrial Piping Specialists (IPS) is a powerful presence in the oil and gas industry. Yet, the company’s strength doesn’t come from its size; rather, it comes from its unrelenting attention to its customers and their success. CEO Ty Westfield explained, “Every decision IPS makes is driven by customer need and the ability to deliver superior customer service.”
It is a very affordable, flexible solution that works virtually wherever we need to be. And I can set it up in a matter of minutes."
Frank Church, Systems Manager, Industrial Piping Specialists
This mid-sized company prides itself on helping customers meet their "lean manufacturing" objectives, and it too, looks to its own performance to serve this goal. Unlike typical hub-and-spoke operations, IPS maintains comprehensive inventories in nine locations in four states, bringing its resources to customers for lightening-fast order fulfillment.
“Our approach to expand is not arbitrary,” said Frank Church, Systems Manager. "It is very much driven by customers who like our company’s personalized service and want an IPS presence in a new location.” When IPS decides to tackle new territories, the company has very firm guidelines on how the new territories will be woven into its operation.
As he explained the IPS business model, Church never waivered from the company’s customer-centric approach. “No matter where we operate, we want customers to get a person when they call – not a busy signal, not voicemail, not an answering service. They get one of our attendants who connects them with the salesperson who serves them the entire time they’re with IPS,” he added.
A Local Presence
When IPS expanded its operation into the Colorado market, Church called on his AT&T account manager to provide assistance with the communications decision. Supported by the IPS Casper, Wyoming location, a new IPS sales professional would serve petrochemical customers in the Centennial State. Church researched several ways to provide this highly mobile salesperson with a phone system for personalized customer service.
Initially, Church thought about equipping him with a cell phone to handle calls from customers. “I didn’t want customers to get his voicemail,” said Church, “so this wasn’t really an option.” A virtual office with a live attendant was another alternative. “This didn’t suit our business since we didn’t want to simply take messages; we transfer each customer calling to either the salesperson or an inside salesperson for support.”
The third option seemed to hold the most promise but was too costly. “We have an IP phone system with local numbers for all the markets we serve,” said Church. “This ensures we present a local presence for our customers. When they call these numbers, attendants in either our Corpus Christi, Houston, or Tulsa location handle their calls during our business hours in a very personal way.”
Too Good to Be True
Continuity is important to IPS and Church. Whether talking about the company’s customers or his AT&T account manager, Church understands the value that long-term, continuous relationships bring. “Our account rep is so important to us that we made her part of our AT&T contract. She really knows our business inside-and-out.”
The AT&T account manager had an ideal solution that was close “at hand”
– the AT&T Office@Hand
cloud-based business phone system. “It seemed too good to be true,” said Church. “It is a very affordable, flexible solution that works virtually wherever we need to be. And I can set it up in a matter of minutes.”
Office@Hand provided IPS with a local Denver inbound number that could be answered in the Tulsa headquarters, supporting Denver customers the same way all IPS customers are served. “Another major plus is its flexibility,” continued Church. “We can port the local Office@Hand number over to a PRI if we chose to later. It will always be our phone number, which is very important to us so that our customers always have the same number to call.”
Office@Hand offered so many other attractive features that it seemed ready-made for IPS. Its customizable call routing means that an attendant in Tulsa, Houston, or Corpus Christi can forward a call to anyone in the organization – at the number of their choice be it home, office or mobile.
Because the Denver salesperson is often out of the office calling on customers, attendants in the main IPS locations can get answers for his Colorado-based customers from sales colleagues, anywhere they are located. In fact, the attendant is able to ring multiple sales extensions at once to deliver the promptest possible customer service. Office@Hand advanced call-forwarding respects the company’s hunt groups, provides online call logs and lets the Denver salesperson dial company extensions from his own smartphone.
The solution essentially puts the entire IPS operation “in the cloud” for access by its employees. Internet fax capabilities for the company and individual users are also included. When the Denver rep receives a voice or fax message, his smartphone alerts him and should he need to forward a message, it’s as easy as sending an e-mail.
Handily Passing the Test
Church immediately signed up for the Office@Hand 30-day trial and – thanks to its simple online implementation – began putting it through its paces. While the service performed as advertised, Church made a few tweaks with the help of his assigned advisor on the Office@Hand implementation team. It worked so well, in fact, that a few days into the first trial, Church signed up for a second Office@Hand for the company’s Carizzo Springs, Texas location and recommended it to a business colleague.
Office@Hand held another too-good-to-be-true surprise for IPS – it is a very cost effective solution. “The other solutions ran from $500 to $1000 per month. If you get POTS lines and try to do it, you have a lower monthly cost, but you have to get the equipment, so it still amounts to about $1000 per month, no matter what,” Church said. “Office@Hand comes in at a fraction of that cost.”
While cost was an important consideration, it wasn‘t the only one. “Office@Hand is a perfect solution for us,” said Church. “It allows IPS to enter a market so much faster than before - in days versus weeks. It’s also reliable. I ran it hard during the trial, and it performed well. I thought I might find a break in the system, but there wasn’t one.”
Naturally, Church returns to the most important reason for staying with Office@Hand. “It allows us to continue to be the company we are – always there for our customers.”
For more information, contact your AT&T Representative or visit us at www.att.com/officeathand.