New phone system works via an app on your mobile phone

7 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJuly 6, 2018

Stan Semenoff, managing director Semenoff Group of Companies

Leading New Zealand trucking and transportation company, the Stan Semenoff Group, has implemented next-generation business phones to connect the back-office team with distribution hubs and drivers on the road.

Spoke Phone replaces traditional business telephone systems with a simple app you install on your mobile phone. There is no need for wires, hardware, or any complicated setup and maintenance. All you now need for a complete business phone system are mobile phones on any carrier/network.

The small company started by Stan Semenoff in the late 1960s as an agricultural contracting, sand processing and supply business has grown into the Stan Semenoff Group, employing more than 150 people across three different transportation businesses, a logistics/bulk warehouse and several quarries.

Managing director Stan contributes the company‘s success to the many skilled and dedicated employees who have been helping to grow the company over the years.

Now in their 50th year, the Stan Semenoff Group is still looking to improve and grow, constantly looking to adopt new technologies and practices that keep their company and their employees moving forward.

Over the years Stan and the company have seen and overcome many challenges. However, one challenge has remained constant – the importance of communication with the team.

Trucking and logistics is a real-time business where people work 24/7, and problems typically mean changing schedules, driving routes, and plans. Communication is key. From the head office in Whangarei, logistics teams need to easily communicate with people in remote hubs, warehouses, manufacturing plants, and the drivers on the road.

By the very nature of the business, many people in the company are not sitting at desks. They are walking around plants, inspecting machinery, and getting the job done. A phone on the desk is just not going to work.

In some of the locations, such as the sand and aggregate plants, it‘s either not possible or too expensive to get a traditional business phone system installed.

With 70-plus trucks and scores of drivers who are the lifeblood of the business, contacting drivers on the road is a technical and organisational challenge. The drivers are often out of data coverage, so a business phone system that relies on wires or only works on VoIP is not going to work.

When things go wrong, people need to be able to reach each other easily, or problems take longer to solve. In the transportation and logistics business, speed is key to keep the company rolling – literally.

To easily call each other, employees would need to enter other employee phone numbers on their phones, a time-consuming task.

If a customer calls and needs to talk to a driver or a plant manager out on site, there was no way to transfer them, and no way to let the employee know who was calling them and what the call was about.

Spoke Phone has been built for companies exactly like the Stan Semenoff Group. Companies that have some people in the back office, and some out in the field. Moreover, Spoke was built to accommodate the harsh environments that employees of the Stan Semenoff Group find themselves operating in.

Some employees sit in offices and have good Wi-Fi or 4G data, and some have no access to Wi-Fi or good cellular data, yet they still need to be part of the communications system.

Spoke is unique in that it works in two modes to provide high quality calls to employees in every environment.

There is HD calling (VoIP) for when you‘ve got great Wi-Fi or 4G data, and Carrier calling mode that uses your carrier‘s voice network for when your data signal is not so good.

Spoke‘s ability to work in both VoIP and cellular calling modes is key in solving the remote communication problems faced by the business.

Sometimes the simplest things make biggest differences. Spoke‘s employee directory allows employees to call each other with a tap, making getting hold of people when you need them easy and quick.

When customers call in you are able to easily transfer them to other employees, and provide callers with a great experience – even if you‘re on your mobile phone.

Before you transfer the call you can see which employees are available to talk (they have a green light beside their name). You can put the caller on hold while you have a private chat with your teammate to bring them up to speed before connecting them with the caller. You can connect the caller and leave, or stay on the line and have a three-way conversation.

This one feature solves a number of issues that were previously impossible to do once calls were forwarded to your mobile phone.

The Stan Semenoff Group replaced their old PBX phone system, hardware, and wires with Spoke Phone, and are now making significant savings on a monthly basis. They got to keep their old numbers, and the entire project took fewer than five days from trial to going live.

“Spoke has won us over with their easy setup process, no long-term contract option, both office and mobile connectivity options, New Zealand-based friendly staff and support, and last but not least, the financial savings we were able to make compared with our last phone setup,” said company accountant Carlo Lang.