All employees can appreciate the idea of a job they love with a work/life balance that encourages an active lifestyle during off hours. Too good to be true? Not for Jenny Collister’s employees at Reef & Rainforest, a dive and adventure travel agency with a home office in Portland, Oregon and agents located across the U.S.
Collister realized long ago that successful travel agents must have a passion for what they do, so she hires active skiers, divers, runners and others who love adventure travel. She also knows that building a top team of agents requires offering balance and flexibility – and that includes letting them live where they want. Fortunately, Reef & Rainforest adopted the Vonage business phone system, so her agents across the country are seamlessly connected and equipped to serve their clients. Among the agency’s growing customer base is an experienced diver clientele that prefers talking through details of their next adventure. And the savvy Reef & Rainforest team relishes the opportunity to assist in planning the ideal getaway.
Several years ago, Reef & Rainforest moved its main office from Sausalito, California to Portland, Oregon. It was a big decision for owner Jenny Collister for several reasons: “I had some very good people working for me in California, so I needed a solution to help keep the office connected – but we also needed to keep the business moving while we relocated.”
At the time, the business used a traditional phone service. While cost was an important consideration, Collister wanted a system that provided versatility for a dispersed workforce and scalability to support her aspiration to grow the company. She explored several business phone options, including Vonage Business. “I didn’t know that much about ‘business VoIP’ but I knew other businesses were using it successfully, and I liked the idea of adopting a modern solution for the business,” she says.
She chose the Vonage system for several reasons, including the MobileConnect app, which helps agents stay connected even if they aren’t in the office. Plus, she was able to save considerably over what she was paying for her legacy phone system. She decided to bring the new phone system on board even before the move to Portland. The Vonage Business installation team worked directly with Collister’s team to walk them through the process and answer any questions along the way.
The move to Portland was as seamless as possible, particularly since Vonage’s “plug-and-play” system didn’t require an on-site installation like traditional systems do. Collister’s office team simply plugged their IP phones into their high-speed internet connection on Day One and the system was up and running in the new location.
With the new phone system in place, Collister was already seeing how easy it was for employees to work from separate locations or when they travel. “I like offering flexibility to my staff,” she continues. “Some employees embrace it and others like more structure, so we try to maintain a balance that ensures that our customers are fully served during work hours and often beyond,” she notes.
Increasingly, the company is able to hire employees from anywhere in the country, a luxury that helps Collister hire a diverse and highly qualified base of agents. The Reef & Rainforest team has now been using the Vonage system for years and has identified the optimal features that give the business an edge:
MobileConnect Employees in separate cities have the option of using a desk phone or MobileConnect or both, but Collister’s team prefers using the MobileConnect app.* The app makes sense for her active group, allowing them to stay connected to customers and the rest of the team wherever they are.
Virtual Receptionist Most often, the phone is answered by a live representative, with Virtual Receptionist providing supplemental routing and after-hour support.
Call Group This feature is used to serve incoming calls to multiple agents and is easy to adjust as needed on the system’s Admin Portal.
Reporting & Analytics Accessible via the Admin Portal, this feature confirms the productivity of employees, with statistics such as call volume, missed calls, and average hold times. And any employee can see the entire team’s phone activity in real time via the Dashboard feature.
Voicemail Transcription Collister finds this feature a valuable convenience since she can’t always listen to voicemail. Transcribed voicemails arrive instantly in her email box, so she can discretely check them and continue with her day.
Collister knows firsthand how easy it is to travel for business and stay on top of things. She attends several industry events each year, including dive shows. She brings a tablet with her and uses MobileConnect and never misses a thing. She’s also an avid skier and finds it’s just as easy to stay connected while on vacation.
Her active employees enjoy similar flexibility, whether they’re taking a work break for a bike ride or traveling to a triathlon. They know if they’re productive and professional, the company will support them. One employee moved from Chicago to Denver without missing a beat. Another always wanted to live in Brazil but didn’t want to give up his position with the company. Collister worked with him, adjusting his hours for the new time zone and setting expectations for success. The employee used both his Vonage MobileConnect and the Softphone on his computer – and remained a productive member of the Reef & Rainforest team for his entire year in Brazil.
Reef & Rainforest has taken a measured approach to using the Vonage business phone system, employing phone features that support specific business objectives. Jenny Collister’s approach centers on building and retaining a high-caliber workforce by offering them a meaningful work/life balance. The Vonage business phone system helps her offer flexibility for her employees – benefitting the business in the process. The month-over-month costs savings have also been a welcome perk for the business.
“I can maintain an efficient office without worrying about the cost of landlines in each market, or employees moving,“ she says. “And yes, I think having productive employees living where they choose has definitely given me an edge.”
It’s an edge that pays dividends for Reef & Rainforest with happy customers who keep coming back and readily recommend the agency to their friends desiring an extraordinary adventure travel experience. Learn more about Reef & Rainforest .
*Data charges may apply to MobileConnect app usage depending upon your mobile plan.
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