Partner Success Story: How Forerunner Technologies was able to increase their operational efficiency and deliver a better experience to customers with UNIVERGE BLUE

Founded in 1989, Forerunner Technologies Inc. is a leading provider of telecommunications equipment and services to business of all sizes and industries. Forerunner CEO, Paul Diesu and VP of Sales and Marketing, Rick Taylor have extensive experience in the telecommunications industry and helped build Forerunner’s reputation of providing tier-one customer service through personalized services and flexible solutions.

I recently sat down with Paul and Rick to discuss their partnership with NEC and selling UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES, here’s what they had to say:

The Challenge

“We take customer service very seriously. We have built the business around our reliability and providing a white glove experience to customers,” Paul explains.

Paul and Rick knew they needed to provide customers with a reliable, cloud-based UC offering, but feared that reselling another company’s cloud portfolio wouldn’t allow them to offer the white-glove service customers had become accustomed to. Forerunner white labeled another vendor’s cloud portfolio as their own but learned it would be near impossible to compete with the larger cloud companies that already had so much of the market share.

After attempting to white label another cloud solution, they tried reselling a cloud portfolio, but couldn’t find a solution to meet their customer’s needs. “Our customers needed more versatility in how, when, and where employees could communicate – our past offering could not meet their expectations.”

Forerunner continued to search for a cloud provider that could deliver a full suite of reliable, fully integrated, easy-to-use, and well-supported communications solutions, with a partner model more favorable to their business.

The Solution

Cost Effective and Feature Rich Unified Communications for Forerunner’s Customers
“When we were researching cloud providers, we knew we needed advanced unified communications (UCaaS) features at a reasonable price for our customers. That’s what we get with UNIVERGE BLUE,” Paul shares.
“By bundling all of the UCaaS features into one integrated application, customers no longer have to maintain relationships with different vendors to get all the features they need in a communications and contact center solution.” Rick adds, “In the past if a customer wanted file sharing, meeting transcriptions, auto attendants, and basic contact center functionality, they would have to use different solutions and vendors. Now, they come to us and we can provide them with all the features they want within one fully integrated solution, UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT.”

Customer Ownership Model with Local Support
Forerunner spent years building relationships with their customers, they did not want to lose touch with customers by reselling a cloud product in which the OEM would have control over customer service and local support. Luckily, with UNIVERGE BLUE, Forerunner was able to choose a partner model that fit their business.

“NEC allows partners to sell under their own brand and offer the local support that our customers have become accustomed to and enjoy. The Customer Ownership model is unique in comparison to other UCaaS offerings and allows businesses to better control the end user experience while keeping costs in line,” Paul Diesu shares.

Easy Administration and Quoting
The user-friendly interface of the UNIVERGE BLUE partner portal has helped Forerunner service customers quicker and easier. Paul says “We can go in and easily port over numbers, make adjustments, provision the account, and deploy changes very easily. This is something that has allowed our technical staff to be more efficient in deploying services to customers.”

Advanced End-User Portals
“The UNIVERGE BLUE Admin Portals are extremely intuitive and easy to use.” Rick continues, “Even the most non-technical clients are able to leverage the portal to make changes to their system. With an on-premises system, even the smallest changes can become labor intensive and costly for IT.”

The Results

Increased Operational Efficiency
“One of the greatest things we’ve seen come out of UNIVERGE BLUE from an operational perspective is shorter implementation timelines and the ease of delivering services to customers,” Rick shares. “UNIVERGE BLUE has enabled us to focus on the core business, instead of having to deal with tricky implementations associated with on-premises hardware and other less intuitive cloud providers’ products.”

A Better Customer Experience
“No matter what a customer or prospect needs in a UCaaS or CCaaS solution, UNIVERGE BLUE offers all the features customers need and want,” Rick explains. “With on-premises systems, it’s difficult and costly for customers to adjust licenses as demand grows. Now, with UNIVERGE BLUE, they can retract or add licenses on an as needed basis – this has benefited our customers greatly.”

Cost Savings
“UNIVERGE BLUE reduces support costs for us because the services are turnkey and don’t require a lot of troubleshooting.” Paul continues, “UNIVERGE BLUE makes us a lot more profitable in terms of our service margins by freeing up more time. Since we have lower administrative costs, we can focus on supporting our end users and on our corporate strategy going forward.”

The tradition of providing clients with reliable and flexible solutions continue as Forerunner transitions into a cloud service technology partner with UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES.

For more information on how you can become a UNIVERGE BLUE Channel Partner and begin realizing the unlimited benefits and high-margins that come with being a cloud provider, visit https://www.univergeblue.com/partners today. For any questions about the program or to meet with a UNIVERGE BLUE Partner Program Representative, submit your information to us and we will get back to you shortly.

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Please let us know if you have any questions about the program or to meet with a UNIVERGE BLUE Partner Program Representative. Fill out the form, and we will get back with you.

Future Ready Travel Using a Digital ID

NEC and Star Alliance are redefining the travel experience with the use of a unique Digital ID that can provide a seamless customer experience from reservation to destination. Star Alliance Biometrics, powered by NEC I:Delight, allows frequent flyers to opt-in to the application and unlock access to a personalized, touchless travel experience.

Launched in November 2020, Lufthansa and SWISS International loyalty customers now have a quicker, more seamless path through airports in Frankfurt and Munich, Germany. In time, Star Alliance plans to make the service available to all 26 of its member airlines and their customers.

How Does Star Alliance Biometrics Work?

Frequent flyers create a secure, biometric-enabled Digital ID in just a few easy steps. First, simply download the airline’s app from the Apple Store or Google Play, then opt-in to the platform by scanning your passport or government issued ID and snapping a selfie. Once the profile is complete, travelers can select exactly which airlines and airports they allow to access their designated information. Travelers also choose how to use, or share, their Digital ID throughout their travel journey.

At the airport, passengers can check-in for a flight, drop off luggage, and board the plane using their Digital ID. The authentication process is fast and intuitive, by quickly verifying passenger information against flight manifest data and producing a prompt for the traveler to continue seamlessly through his or her journey. In the future, passengers will be able to enjoy additional services using their Digital ID, such as, passing through security checkpoints, accessing VIP lounges, and shopping at retail stores.

What is NEC I:Delight?

NEC I:Delight is a highly secure and scalable digital identity management platform that effortlessly brings touchless experiences to countless use cases. It provides a unified experience for a variety of services and transactions by using a unique, multi-factor Digital ID based on biometric authentication and AI technology. The platform streamlines both physical and digital identities into a secure, privacy-driven ecosystem for a seamless, secure, more personalized, and intuitive customer experience.

To see how Star Alliance Biometrics, powered by NEC I:Delight, is transforming the customer experience, take a minute to watch this short video.

For more information about NEC’s aviation solutions, visit necam.com/aviation or complete the form below to schedule a virtual tour to see how we are refining the travel experience. Click here to book your appointment today!

Now, touchless travel can be achieved with single, secure Digital ID.

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Take a journey with us by accessing our 360 degree photo realistic tour in simulated real-world environments in Aviation, Federal Government, Healthcare and Retail.

Customer Success Story – How migrating to UNIVERGE BLUE helped Epic Web Studios enable remote working, improve scalability, and grow their business.

Epic Web Studios is a full-service marketing agency headquartered in Erie, Pennsylvania. A customer of NEC since 2010, Epic started out using the SV8100 platform but migrated to NEC UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES after seeing the increasing need for more unified communications to support its growing workforce.

I recently met with David Hunter, President and CEO of Epic Web Studios to discuss how UNIVERGE BLUE was able to help his company enable remote work, improve scalability and grow its business.

Marc: Tell me about Epic Web Studios. How did you get started?

Epic Web Studios is a full-service marketing agency that does it all for clients, no matter the size. From Website Design and Development, Social Media, Digital Marketing, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), our goal is to help clients compete in today’s ever-changing marketplace through a viable digital marketing strategy.

Headquartered in Erie, Pennsylvania, Epic Web Studios started in 2009 as a small, single-client web-site development firm. Today, we are a full-service digital marketing firm with over five hundred clients in North America and more than sixteen full-time employees.

Marc: Wow! That is quite the achievement. In the past decade or so since you started the company, what has changed?

As time and technology progressed, the need for more unified communications features became increasingly apparent. Epic was growing rapidly and needed a system that could keep up. With more clients and the large shift towards remote working, we needed a flexible, cloud solution to allow us to communicate with clients, collaborate cross-functionally and be productive from anywhere, at any time.

Marc: You’re not alone. Now more than ever, businesses need the ability and flexibility to communicate and collaborate from wherever they may be. Can you share further insight into some of the challenges Epic Web Studios was facing?

With our on-premises system, our teams were restricted to only using voice and email to communicate. Unanswered calls were forwarded to one general voicemail, and emailing back-and-forth became inefficient as the primary mode of communication.

Our employees needed greater control over how calls could be made, forwarded, and received; they also needed more flexibility in their business communications and more variety in their communication methods.

In addition, we relied on various communication and collaboration tools, which was inefficient, costly, and difficult to manage. We needed a communications system that was fully-integrated and secure so that we could go from online meetings to instant messages to phone conversations and everything in between very easily and seamlessly.

In short, we needed a solution that would provide reliable, real-time communication with robust and fully-integrated features to support employee productivity. We also needed a solution that would enable employees to work from home, which would have been very difficult with our old on-premises communications system.

Marc: It sounds like you came to the right place. However, I know there are plenty of different vendors in the market. What made you ultimately choose UNIVERGE BLUE?

ROI CalculatorWith other options reviewed, costs were too high, functionality was missing, or the solution just didn’t meet Epic Web Studio’s needs. Luckily, NEC launched UNIVERGE BLUE as I was researching new platforms.

Ultimately, we chose UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT because the features were the strongest, the transition was going to be easy, and the price point was extremely competitive. We also chose UNIVERGE BLUE because of the local support that NEC provides with a large network of Channel Partners. Our technology partner was instrumental in getting our system set up and is always there to answer provide any support that we need. Most of the larger cloud companies and service providers do not offer this kind of local support.

As technology evolves, NEC is always on the cutting edge of new ways of working to make our communications more convenient and secure. This bevy of new features included with UNIVERGE BLUE offers us new opportunities to become even more efficient and productive with our business communications – all at a reasonable cost.

Another bonus was the ease of deployment. It was pretty much effortless. When we moved from our on-premises solution to UNIVERGE BLUE, we were up and running in a matter of hours. It was incredible.

Marc: Well, we are certainly happy to have Epic Web Studios as a part of the UNIVERGE BLUE family. Here’s my final question – what results have you seen since deployment?

For starters, our employees have been able to communicate with clients more effectively. We have seen a significant decrease in the number of back-and-forth emails thanks to UNIVERGE BLUE. Our clients call us directly and we can have one-click video-conferencing meetings with them. We have also seen a major increase in our productivity because of UNIVERGE BLUE.

As a result of both the streamlined communication and increased productivity, we have also been able to scale our business and grow our client base. Because we were able to provision more users very quickly, we’re able to take on more projects, and that has led to the growth of the company, which has been phenomenal recently thanks to UNIVERGE BLUE. I can’t recommend UNIVERGE BLUE enough!


For more information about UNIVERGE BLUE, NEC’s full portfolio of “As-A-Service” Solutions, visit www.univergeblue.com. For questions about the products or to meet with a UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD Representative, submit your information to us and we will get back to you shortly.

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7 Benefits of Utilizing a Self-Service Kiosk in the Hospitality Industry

In a world where providing convenient experiences for customers matters the most, kiosks have become commonplace in restaurants, retail stores, airports, healthcare, and now, at hotels. The hospitality industry has always been about luxury, pleasure, and excellent customer service, so it is to no surprise that many hoteliers have installed self-service check-in kiosks to offer guests additional flexibility and convenience during their hotel stay. Guests want to be delighted by personalized experiences, and when that happens, they are likely to come back for more stays.

Self-service check-in and check-out kiosks are automated software or digital touch kiosks that guests use to complete tasks themselves instead of relying on hotel front desk staff. Hotel kiosks are designed to be a turn-key solution that help provide a modern extension or alternative to the traditional front desk service experience.

Better Use of Hotel Resources

To offer the best service possible to guests, hoteliers should make optimal use of their resources. When integrated with a property’s PMS (Property Management System), a self-service kiosk can transform the standard and traditional service that can be offered to your guests.

Automating the check-in and out process gives your staff freedom to have more meaningful and personal conversations with guests. This could include providing advice to a guest as they head out, tending to an urgent issue, or simply taking the time to engage and chat with your guests through friendly conversation. These small interactions allow your hotel employees to offer a differentiated experience from your competitors and build meaningful rapport with guests.

Faster Check-in and Out Experiences

Guests want convenient experiences from the time they first enter your hotel, to the time they leave. The first impression starts in the hotel lobby, and long wait times to check-in and out can have detrimental effects on a guest’s opinion of your hotel. Being on-time while traveling is important- and a long wait time can affect the guest’s agenda and timeline for the rest of the day.

A recent survey of 397 adults, uncovered that speed of delivery was the most influential factor in terms of impact on customer satisfaction with self-service kiosks.

During a traditional check-in process, guests must stand in line to speak with a receptionist, often this includes filling out paperwork and reiterating information already supplied during the booking. With a self-service kiosk, guests can skip the check-in line by simply looking up their name, email, booking number or by scanning their government issued ID. This drastically improves front-desk lobby wait times and queues.

More Personalized Guest Experiences

Self-Service kiosks can gather useful data about guest and their stay history such as previous purchases, room preferences, and other special requests. If the kiosk is properly integrated with that hotel’s PMS (property management system), this offers you an opportunity to access this data quickly and deliver a more personalized experience.

Opportunities to Generate More Revenue

Self-service solutions can increase up-sell opportunities. With a robust and “Smart” self-service kiosk, guests can upgrade their room, redeem special offers, and purchase additional services such as continental breakfast or room service, all in an effortless way. Many people do not respond well to being sold things face-to-face, so adding additional services with a click of a button, appeals to this audience and can contribute to additional revenue for your hotel that does not require extra labor expenses.

Minimizes Human Error

Unfortunately, errors with hotel bookings can be a common occurrence. Regrettably, the names of guests are often misspelled, or the wrong room type is selected by accident. No matter how trained a staff member is, humans make mistakes, especially when they are busy juggling multiple tasks at once.

By cutting out the middleman when it comes time for a guest to register their stay and automating the check-in process, you can avoid common errors and improve the way you engage with customers. Self-service kiosks record customer data accurately because the guests themselves input the information while registering, then checking in. Therefore, opportunities for mistakes are greatly minimized.

More Freedom and Convenience for Guests – A Better Experience

Hotel customers appreciate different options to cater to their personal needs. Some people prefer to deal directly with hotel staff, and others prefer to handle check-in and out on their own. Regardless of their preference, offering a self-service kiosk enhances the guest’s freedom and offers them a level of control that will surely give off a good impression and improve satisfaction. Self-service kiosks empower your guests by providing them with a range of flexible options they can access at their fingertips.

Contactless Check-In

With the current state of the world, safety and sanitation is of paramount importance for travelers and employees in your hotel. This is another reason why contactless service are growing in value. By reducing the time it takes for guests to check-in and out, and keeping interactions to a minimum, you can reduce foot traffic, eliminate heavily populated front lobbies, and promote an environment where social distancing is possible.

Conclusion

A recent study showed that 72% of 33–44-year old’s were most likely to use a self-service kiosk. When weighing the potential benefits, 61% cited faster service, 59% shorter lines, 58% privacy, 50% greater control, and 38% no interaction with personnel.

It’s evident that self-service kiosks provide a broad range of advantages to hotels, employees, and guests. A frictionless check-in and out experience means more convenience, more control and elimination of frustrating lines.

NEC’s Smart Check-In Kiosk

NEC’s Smart Check-In for Hospitality solution provides an easy-to-use, automated, self-service interface that walks a guest through pre-registration and check-in/check-out process. This self-service application enables a guest to walk up to a kiosk, verify their identity through facial recognition or customized QR code and Government issued ID authentication, pull up their reservation information, add on additional hotel services, add a payment option, receive their room assignment, and print out their room key.

When a guest is ready to check out, this same self-service software enables them to simply enter their room number and check in date, review their bill, and request either a printed receipt or have it conveniently emailed to them.

NEC’s Smart Check-In interface is fully customizable with your property’s logo and images along with multiple language selections. The software seamlessly integrates with Property Management Systems (PMS) to immediately alert staff when a room has been assigned and when the guest has officially checked out.

With the utilization of NEC’s UNIVERGE Integration Platform (UIP), the Smart Check-Infor Hospitality solution can seamlessly interconnect with your back-office systems to function as one complete end-to-end solution. UIP can connect any application/data source and enables comprehensive Application Programming Interface (API) management.

Whether checking in for business or pleasure, you want to make the guest’s experience pleasant and frictionless, from the time they walk in the door until the time they walk out. With NEC’s Smart Check-In software solution, you can streamline the check-in and out process, improving guest satisfaction and brand loyalty.

To learn more about NEC’s Smart Check-In for Hospitality, visit www.necam.com/SmartWorkspace/SmartCheckIn/.

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Digital ID is Taking Travel to New Heights

As digital coupons and receipts are replacing typical “wallet clutter,” Digital IDs are replacing the way people validate their identity.

Many travelers are already opting-in to the use of Digital IDs to speed their way through bag check, security verification and boarding processes. When a Digital ID is created, travelers can select trip-specific choices that expire when the trip is complete – just like digital boarding passes. If the traveler consents to use the Digital ID for transactions like retail or hospitality, those authorizations will remain active in their profile until the traveler chooses to disable it. The Digital ID is entirely under the owner’s control at all times.

The NEC Aviation team has created an eBook that explains the digital transformation taking place in commercial air travel using a Digital ID.

Below is a three-page preview of our eBook. Click here to learn more or fill out the form below to download the entire eBook.

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