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Limburg.net is the waste intermunicipal organisation of the 43 municipalities in the province of Limburg and the Flemish Brabant town of Diest. Besides managing recycling parks and collecting waste from people's homes, they also have their own customer service to which citizens can call with questions. Until recently, this customer service used the analogue telephone exchange, which could use an update since the end of 2019. Arxus worked out a cloud-based system through Microsoft Teams, eliminating the old phones and moving all phone traffic to the cloud.
Limburg.net had already issued a tender for a renewal of their telephone system when corona emerged in 2020. Working from home was impossible in the old system. So the original tender was necessarily extended, and needed to be rolled out faster. Although Arxus had previously worked with Limburg.net on a project basis, it was their transparency and experience within cloud transitions that was the deciding factor for the waste intercommunal.
"My colleague Martine and I had been working on the tender for a while. Not only were we looking for a modern application to replace our dated system, it also had to fit our organisation", explains Ilse Luypaerts, Communication Manager at Limburg.net. "So we did extensive research ourselves into the systems that were on the market and came up in the tender. With Arxus, we immediately had a good feeling. They were transparent about what they could offer us, what could be added in the future, and also why they recommended this option. They dared to challenge us and suggested going beyond the original tender."
Yorick van der Loo, Solution Sales at Arxus picks up: "The original specification still assumed a fairly classical set-up. Through our experience, we knew that this was not an ideal solution for the future. As an organisation, you would soon have to innovate again. Meanwhile, there were better systems on the market that also conformed to the standards and laws that public companies expect."
On an average day, Limburg.net's switchboard receives around 200 calls. That number is fairly stable, but can peak in certain periods. For instance, there are typically more calls in the month of December when residents expect their new waste calendar. But the phone is also sometimes ringing off the hook after a newspaper article or letter from the waste intercommunal.
"The new system gives us much more flexibility. Whereas in the old system we needed up to six weeks to adjust our welcome tape, now we can do so immediately. Especially at peak times, quickly adjusting the information on the tape can ensure that our telephonists are relieved of non-urgent calls," Ilse outlines the situation.
Whereas telephonists used to have to hide cables in the basement when changing desks, the new cloud application allows them to do their job from really anywhere via a click on their computer screen.
"We wanted to make sure Limburg.net had a future-proof system. That's why we opted for a cloud solution," says Yorick. "Everything runs on the TendFor software in Microsoft Azure. Calls are now made via Microsoft Teams and a headset. Analogue phones have disappeared except for a lone back-up device."
The transition to the cloud did not only make teleworking suddenly possible. It also provided Limburg.net with a nice bonus financially. "During corona, our employees suddenly called much more with their smartphones. The costs quickly ran up. By switching to Microsoft Teams, we now save 40,000 euros annually," says Ilse.
Despite the savings, both Arxus and Limburg.net were also concerned with the change in mindset that needed to happen among many employees in the organisation. Most employees used Microsoft Teams only sporadically, and were wedded to their analogue phones. To make the transition as smooth as possible, it was decided to provide training.
"It was clear pretty quickly that we needed to invest in good training, to give our employees the right mindset," explains Ilse. "In a previous pilot project with Office 365, we noticed a lot of resistance. Our employees didn't understand why the change to the cloud was necessary, and mistakenly thought we wanted to control them via their computers. "
"We then turned to our sister company LEARNIA to provide training," says Yorick. "They went into detail about how the system would work, why the changes were needed, and the benefits for the employees themselves. A video was also made of each training afterwards, so the info is available whenever needed. So on the first day of using the new system, someone from Arxus was on site to quickly resolve questions or problems. And actually the conversion then went off without a hitch."
The cooperation between Limburg.net and Arxus for the switchboard went off without any major problems and was finished in the meantime. But if it depends on both parties, there will be a follow-up soon.
"We are still working together with Arxus on a number of other projects in other departments, but we definitely see a follow-up within our telephone exchange as well. For instance, we would still like to integrate our CRM system into our PBX, and in the future we would also like to integrate messages coming in via Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger into the system," Ilse reveals.
"I think we were a good match in all areas. Arxus prides itself on not seeing their customers simply as a number in their customer base, and Limburg.net was looking for a party that could unburden them and be immediately accessible in case of an emergency. We complemented each other nicely. So for us, too, it's definitely worth repeating," sums up Yorick nicely.
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