2 page Case Study - Posted 1/5/2012
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Dutch Software Company Uses Unified Communications to Improve Customer Interaction
AFAS Software develops and supplies software that helps companies automate business processes. Recently, it upgraded its Microsoft communications solution with Microsoft Lync Server 2010 to provide presence, instant messaging, conferencing, sharing, and ad-hoc conferencing and collaboration tools. It integrated the solution with its Customer Interaction Center to help improve the effectiveness of its call centers and grow the business.
Founded in Leusden, the Netherlands, in 1996, family-owned AFAS Software develops automation software to help businesses streamline administrative processes in areas that include finance, human resources, and logistics. It employs 300 people and serves more than 10,000 customers.
AFAS constantly looks for innovative ways to improve the efficiency of its own business. “All the employees here have innovation in their bones,” says Henry van der Werf, System Administrator at AFAS Software. “In all the processes, in everything we do, we ask ourselves whether we can automate it or do it better or smarter.” When people walk into AFAS, they do not find a receptionist, but rather registration kiosks, comparable to those at airports. By using a bar code on their invitations or typing in their last names, registered visitors can create their own ID passes. In the meantime, the appropriate AFAS employee has already received a text or email message (with a photo) saying the visitor has arrived.
||When Microsoft Lync Server 2010 was announced, it was clear that we wanted to start working with it immediately.
||Henry van der Werf
System Administrator, AFAS Software
To help improve internal communication, the company deployed Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2 for presence, instant messaging, conferencing, and sharing screens among employees. Working with Interactive Intelligence, a member of the Microsoft Partner Network, AFAS integrated Office Communications Server 2007 R2 into the Customer Interaction Center (CIC), a program many employees use, particularly in the company’s call center.
Because the Microsoft communications solution is so integral to the business, AFAS wanted to provide the latest version to ensure its employees had the most up-to-date tools available to help them do their jobs. “As an innovative company, we always want to have the latest version of the software we use,” says van der Werf. “We were out in front with CIC 3.0; we were the first with the Windows 7 operating system; and when Microsoft Lync Server 2010 was announced, it was clear that we wanted to start working with it immediately.”Solution
Lync Server 2010 provides enhanced versions of the communications capabilities provided by Office Communications Server 2007 R2—presence, instant messaging, robust conferencing, and enterprise voice—as well as improvements in topology, deployment, and management tools.
Employees at AFAS use the Microsoft Lync 2010 client on the desktop primarily for working from home or other remote locations. They especially rely on the presence and instant messaging capabilities. In addition to the “Out of Office” status that employees can view in the Microsoft Outlook messaging and collaboration client, they can also now see updated presence information for colleagues when they type in an email address.
Employees can view presence information through the CIC interface in order to avoid unnecessary phone calls and phone transfers. From CIC, employees can also start an instant messaging session or bring in the same coworker to a support call by using the enterprise voice capabilities in Lync.
Going forward, AFAS plans to integrate Lync Server to provide other communications-enabled business processes (CEBP) using Lync application programming interfaces (APIs). Martijn Delahaye, Marketing Manager at AFAS Software, says, “For communication with the outside world, we are now working on integration with our website, so clients and prospects can see who is available to be contacted by chat. The pilot is starting with the internal sales staff and, depending on the experiences, will be rolled out further.” Benefits
By deploying Lync Server 2010, AFAS can continue to increase communication and improve efficiency to help its business grow.
Improves communication. van der Werf explains, “Since we’ve used Office Communications Server and Lync, we’ve seen a clear shift from phone calls to chats. The advantage is that ideas and thoughts are formulated more clearly because they have to be written down. Also, the messages are automatically archived and can be retrieved later. That is a bit more difficult with a telephone call.”
Increases business efficiency. Delahaye explains, “Because everyone has a view of the availability of coworkers, communication becomes markedly more efficient. But that also applies to continuously encouraging the use of our website and client portal. If questions and problems are reported directly there, we can handle them best. Even if it is just because the person has to take some time to properly formulate the problem or question. And when the help desk calls back, they can already have part of the solution to present, which is ultimately a win-win for both parties.”
Supports business growth. By using Lync CEBP, AFAS can increase business without adding employees. “We try to do away with boring work that is susceptible to error. This means we can provide good support to more clients with the same or sometimes even fewer people,” Delahaye says. “But we do not waste the talents of our people: they grow and develop to take on what, in many cases, are better positions. We are certainly not going to let those talents go unused!”
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