The Bellevue Towers management team and staff provide support to the on-site sales team and homeowner services for residents in two high-rise condominium towers in Bellevue, Washington. To achieve service excellence, management wanted its concierge staff to follow identical service protocols and make instant reservations for shared amenities and delivery loading docks—without running into conflicts. For this to happen, staff needed to access shared information and up-to-date service delivery calendars. This was impossible with the existing peer-to-peer network, which kept data locked in individual computers. Bellevue Towers deployed Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard and created an intranet site called Link—a one-stop shop for all information related to homeowner services. Now, concierges are executing a high level of service and attending to homeowners more quickly. Situation
When the U.S.$438 million Bellevue Towers project was completed in 2009, its 42-story North Tower and 43-story South Tower changed the skyline of downtown Bellevue, Washington. Together, the towers provide 1.5 million square feet of space that includes 539 condos, 17,000 square feet of retail space, four restaurants, and underground parking. For residents, Bellevue Towers offers community amenities including a spa, gym, dining room, theater room, and guest suites. Environmentally sustainable design features, such as green roofs, energy-efficient glass facades, mechanical equipment, rain collection, natural lighting, and low-flow plumbing fixtures are key elements of the buildings’ sophisticated construction and have resulted in Bellevue Towers being rewarded with LEED Gold Certification.
Priority: Customer Service
The Bellevue Towers Condominium Owners Community oversees the property as a whole, including the physical plant, maintenance, code compliance, and all aspects of resident services. “Customer service is our number-one priority,” says Jim Davidson, General Manager of Bellevue Towers. “We will have 539 families that call the towers home, and it’s up to our staff to ensure that we maintain the quality of service and the luxurious ambience that residents expect at Bellevue Towers.”
At each tower, a concierge desk is manned all day, every day by trained concierges who take the lead on customer service. Cyndi Saunders-White, who is Assistant General Manager of Bellevue Towers, manages all the amenities at Bellevue Towers and coordinates the orientation and move-in process for new residents. Plant maintenance and custodial staff members ensure the buildings are clean and in good working order.
“It’s our responsibility to ensure that residents receive consistent, quality service for any number of scenarios,” says Davidson. “This requires smooth teamwork that’s based on seamless employee communications and access to up-to-date information.” Challenge: Consistent Concierge Services
When the community began operations in 2009, it acquired six computers and linked them in a peer-to-peer network, without a dedicated file server. This configuration makes it difficult to keep track of where files are located and which version is the most recent. Employees share files by emailing them to each other. One computer, used by the building engineer, runs the heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system and houses large schematic files. Staff members used the Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 messaging and collaboration client, however, the POP3 email service was provided by an Internet service provider (ISP) that did not offer a web-based email option.
||Our concierge staff spends more time providing good service instead of chasing answers and double-checking to avoid mistakes…. Windows Small Business Server 2011 has made such a difference!
General Manager, Bellevue Towers
During any 24-hour period, six concierges work at both towers. Each concierge used the computer at the front desk, but without a central server it was difficult for staff to keep track of where information was stored. This meant that Davidson and Saunders-White had to devise manual, paper-based workarounds to facilitate communication among the concierges and ensure the smooth execution of services for residents. Davidson and Saunders-White also wrote and printed standard procedures and “How To” documents for many different scenarios. These were stored in large binders for the concierges to reference.
“You can imagine the disarray; everyone had access to a computer but their files were in different versions and their systems were different for tracking and organizing tasks. It was very difficult for me to ensure that everyone was looking at the binder and following the same protocol,” says Davidson. “Six individuals a day trying to keep information clear, consistent, and acceptable, with all the forms, policies, and resident information stored in different ways, and with no way to share calendars and schedules to coordinate their services—it was impossible.”
In order to ensure communications between concierges during a shift change, a process called “pass down,” Davidson and Saunders-White developed a convoluted email trail to maintain continuity of service. “The pass down was a nerve-racking procedure where concierges had to email their reports to the management team and to their counterparts in the other tower,” explains Davidson. “If they forgot to send the mails or to look at them when coming on shift, then we could lose service continuity for the homeowners.”
A number of concierge services occur on a regular basis, and the need for consistent delivery of these services exemplified the daily management challenges for Davidson and Saunders-White. For example, there were problems with the “permission to enter” (PTE) key tracking system. It is part of the concierge’s responsibilities to track and monitor those individuals who have been granted access to a homeowner’s suite, for example, a cleaning service, dog walker, or visitor.
“You can imagine the sense of responsibility and liability associated with passing over a homeowner’s key,” says Davidson. “We use a paper-based system with binders that are kept at the concierge station. The trouble was that each concierge filled out the form differently, which opened up the possibility of manual error. Even more worrying, the documents containing private addresses and phone numbers could potentially be seen by anyone standing by the desk while the binder was in use.”
Scheduling deliveries was another concierge responsibility that had plenty of opportunities for error. The loading docks are located in the back alley behind both towers and they are busy all day long. “Loading docks are in a lane that serves three other large buildings and there’s a fire alley with no parking,” says Davidson. “We managed delivery scheduling using a paper calendar, and we emailed delivery notices to the concierges, who had to remember to put them in their personal calendars. If they didn’t see the notice, or forgot to enter it, and someone double-booked a loading dock, a real crisis could ensue.”
Similarly, when a homeowner requested the use of one of the tower’s shared amenities, the concierge had to refer to a paper calendar or consult a whiteboard, then double-check with other concierges before confirming the booking with the homeowner. “Any time we make a homeowner wait for an answer to a question, or a confirmation of a booking, we have failed in providing the level of service standards we aspire to,” says Davidson. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but to solve these problems, we needed a business network and a central server to aggregate up-to-date information so everyone could be on the same page.”Solution
When Davidson outlined the communication issues at Bellevue Towers to the management of its parent company, The CWD Group Inc., CWD referred Davidson to Banks Consulting Northwest, a Microsoft Certified Partner and Microsoft Small Business Specialist. In June 2010, Banks Consulting Northwest owner Steve Banks met with Davidson and toured Bellevue Towers while hearing firsthand about the communication issues that compromised teamwork and impacted productivity and customer service. He invited Bellevue Towers to join the Technology Adoption Program (TAP) for Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard so that Davidson could learn how to take advantage of an integrated server solution and build a more cohesive, productive organization.
Enterprise-Level Server Technologies
||It’s our responsibility to ensure that residents receive consistent, quality service.… This requires smooth teamwork that’s based on seamless employee communications and access to up-to-date information.
Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard is an all-in-one server solution designed for businesses with up to 75 employees that need enterprise-class server technology in an easy-to-deploy and simple-to-manage solution. It includes the Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard Technologies, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Standard Service Pack 1 (SP1), Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010, and Windows Server Update Services. It also has Remote Web Access, a feature that provides web-based, highly secure access to all the computers and the resources stored on the Windows Small Business Server 2011 network.
“For Bellevue Towers, Windows Small Business Server 2011 was perfect: a suite of products in one box that delivers all the communication, collaboration, database, security, and maintenance capabilities they need,” says Banks.
With the help of Banks, Bellevue Towers deployed a Dell PowerEdge T410 server. Along with the server deployment, Bellevue Towers migrated to Microsoft Office 2010 from Microsoft Office 2007. “Within the first hour after we got Windows Small Business Server 2011 up and running, Bellevue Towers staff were loading documents, creating shared calendars in their intranet site, and viewing and monitoring them in Outlook 2010,” says Banks. “This latest version of Windows Small Business Server offers great integration between Exchange Server 2010, SharePoint Foundation 2010, and Microsoft Office 2010.”
He adds, “The Dell PowerEdge T410 is a great choice for Bellevue Towers too. It has a small chassis and is quiet. And the energy efficiency is a perfect match for the green design of the buildings.”Building a Company Intranet
SharePoint Foundation 2010 is a web-based collaboration platform and offers a robust, preconfigured internal company website. Davidson and Saunders-White saw the value of this immediately: Here was a central data store for all the community documents that everyone could access according to user permissions set by Davidson. It also offered shared calendars that would help the concierge staff stay on top of homeowner services. Davidson and Saunders-White can access and update the same calendars cached within Outlook 2010.
“We have populated folders and files and calendars and are developing the site, which we call ‘Link,’ to be the go-to portal for everything the staff needs to know on a daily basis,” says Davidson. “In the three months since we went live, we have uploaded all our files and a couple of dozen folders in the shared library. We have created shared calendars for amenities reservations, for scheduling move-ins and deliveries, and we have started to upload a log book for the PTE process.”
Another vital element in Link is the Master Resident Roster, which provides the primary contact information and other data relevant to the daily operations of the community. “Having the roster be available to all and instantly updated when changes occur has been an incredible improvement for our staff and administration at Bellevue Towers,” says Davidson. Benefits
In the three months since deployment, Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard has become an indispensible foundation for the community’s operations. As the new repository of community data, including shared calendars and policies and procedures that cover all situations, the solution is the key resource for Davidson and the staff to ensure consistent, high-quality services for homeowners. Windows Small Business Server 2011 provides a framework for staff at Bellevue Towers to work more productively and cohesively to deliver those services—without changing how they work, or having to learn a difficult new IT solution.
Easy Management, Improved Reliability
Davidson is happy that Windows Small Business Server automatically backs up the community’s data every night and that Banks is on call in case of any undue concerns. “Steve did an incredible job of helping us transition to a business server scenario. Now I can relax about data security with Windows Small Business Server because I’ve seen how it works,” says Davidson. “We had an incident where we did have to go back in time and Banks was able to use the backup-and-restore capabilities to recover files to the point where most people didn’t even notice there was a problem. The big value to me is that Windows Small Business Server 2011 works in the background, and I don’t have to worry about it. It’s almost surreal how big a difference it’s made to my work.”
||With a central database and shared calendars, every concierge has their fingers on the same files to give the same information to homeowners and to go through the same service protocols.
General Manager, Bellevue Towers
While Banks set up Davidson and Saunders-White as administrators on the network, he takes responsibility for the solution’s overall health. “With Windows Small Business Server 2011, it’s easy to monitor my customers,” he says. “The console provides a consistent view across our customer base and I get a daily, high-level email report to ensure that everyone has a healthy system and network.” Ease-of-Use Leads to Instant Adoption
The fact that Davidson, who has never worked with portal or server technologies, has readily taken on the job of building the community’s Link intranet is a testament to the solution’s ease-of-use. This is a benefit that extends to all staff and accounts for the ready adoption of the solution.
“Our concierges have varied IT skills, and I didn’t want them distracted by having to learn a new solution,” says Davidson. “But when we introduced Windows Small Business Server 2011, I was relieved to see how intuitive it was. Our services to homeowners were affected only in the sense that they got better!”Improves Concierge Services
Bellevue Towers is using Windows Small Business Server 2011 to automate and standardize concierge services in a way that adds consistency and reliability to the services offered by the community. Today, when a homeowner wants to reserve the theatre room, the concierge can access the shared calendar for amenities to see what rooms have been reserved by the other concierges and provide instant feedback to the homeowner.
And now that all the PTE access information from the homeowners has been entered into Link, this highly confidential data is more secure. Instead of bringing out a binder and searching through pages of information, a concierge simply opens Link and accesses the data, confident in its accuracy. With the computer screen providing an added element of privacy, concierges no longer have to worry about bystanders being able to see a homeowner’s phone number or other personal information.
“Now it’s one calendar, one system, one set of instructions, and everyone knows what’s going on,” says Davidson. “Our sense of follow-up and productive communications and timeliness with our service means the confusion and double-booking has almost disappeared. It’s excellent!”
Similarly, if a homeowner needs to arrange for a delivery, it’s a simple matter for the concierge to go to Link and check the delivery schedule calendar because everyone enters deliveries in real time. “The calendars are living documents with immense value,” says Davidson. “As soon as a concierge places a hold on one of those spaces, that information is instantly available to everyone else. Now, we have better management of the move-in and delivery processes because everyone is working from the same up-to-the-minute information. Double-booking shared amenities or loading docks are a thing of the past.”
Davidson and Saunders-White are also using Windows Small Business Server 2011 to streamline the pass-down process. When it comes time to change shifts, concierges enter relevant follow-up information for the incoming staff in order to maintain continuity of service. “Now when the concierges come on shift, they review the pass down and are quickly caught up,” says Davidson. “There is no question about which document, which pass down, which email—it’s all there for everyone to see.”
It’s not only the concierges who are working more productively. The building engineer can use Remote Web Access to gain entry into the HVAC system on his computer from any other computer on the network, from home, or anywhere he can connect to the Internet. Davidson can easily manage staff scheduling and keep an eye on all the shared calendars in Link directly from Outlook 2010. Saunders-White can also schedule orientation move-ins by editing the shared calendars in Outlook 2010, knowing that whatever changes she makes will show up in Link.
“With a central database and shared calendars, every concierge has their fingers on the same files to give the same information to homeowners and to go through the same service protocols,” concludes Davidson. “Our concierge staff spends more time providing good service instead of chasing answers and double-checking to avoid mistakes. It’s amazing how Windows Small Business Server 2011 has made such a difference!”
Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard
Designed for businesses with up to 75 users, Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard delivers enterprise-class server technology in an affordable, all-in-one solution. Help improve the security of your data with automatic backups and simple recovery tools. Easily add users, servers, and applications as your business needs evolve. Empower your employees to readily access email, contacts, and calendars to connect with customers, vendors, and suppliers from almost anywhere. With reduced complexity and increased manageability over traditional enterprise servers, Windows Small Business Server offers you a server solution that can help you focus on running a more efficient business.
For more information about Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard, go to: For More Information
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For more information about Bellevue Towers condominium homes, call (425) 454-9922 or visit the website at: www.bellevuetowers.com