The United Talent Agency (UTA)
is known for representing many of the world’s most acclaimed figures in entertainment and the media. Now there’s a new star on its roster.

 
Powered by Avaya IP Office
 

After carefully studying the options, UTA selected Avaya IP Office to replace its end-of-life Nortel communications system in its two biggest offices. The decision was not made lightly. UTA’s 1000 agents, based in six offices around the world, place 25,000 to 35,000 calls per week.

“The phone system is our bread and butter. Everything is done over the phone. It’s a fast-paced industry and it’s all about the interpersonal relationships. You have to get on the phone, hear a voice and hear the inflection of the voice.”
— Howie Gold, Director of IT

A technology change was urgently required. As the company grew, its agents struggled to provide a consistently high level of customer service due to the limitations of the old system. The installation of Avaya IP Office by an Avaya Cloud Partner addressed those concerns. This all-in-one solution was developed with a focus on customer experience. It provides messaging, customer management and conferencing, with full functionality on mobile devices. It allows businesses to communicate in the way that best suits their clients.

The Turning Point

For UTA, a crucial requirement was a feature called no-hold conferencing. It provides the ability to add more users to a call on an ad hoc basis, without putting everyone on hold.

“It was a deal breaker. In our organization, assistants listen to the agents’ calls to make sure nothing is overlooked,” said Gold. “Exiting and putting everyone on hold even for a moment can throw things off. Something might be missed.”

No-hold conferencing was a proprietary feature of the Nortel system and its agents did not want to give it up, said Gold. When Avaya heard this, its developers came up with a custom built system to enable no-hold conferencing with the push of a button. It set up a full lab environment for three weeks in UTA’s Los Angeles office so that agents could try it out.


CHALLENGES

  • Fast-paced industry heavily reliant on telephony

  • End-of-life system no longer meeting needs

  • Need to do business on the road from any device, anywhere.


VALUE CREATED

  • A better experience for users and their clients

  • Significant savings on mobile and long distance calling;

  • Ability to easily scale


Once our agents saw no-hold conferencing, it was a no-brainer from there. It is far more convenient to hit a button to add a person, without leaving the conversation

Calling Conveniences Boost Productivity

 
Boosting Productivity with Avaya
 

Given the heavy reliance on telephony for client engagement, UTA’s agents were excited about the added functionality of Avaya’s IP Office. In fact, Gold said that agents in the Los Angeles office were jealous when the solution was first installed in the New York Office.

Here are four key features that contributed to greater efficiency for UTA’s agents:

No limitation issues on ad hoc conferencing

With the Nortel system, only six people could be added to a call on an ad hoc basis. “When you have assistants listening in, you can max out that number very quickly,” said Gold. Avaya IP Office allows users to continue adding people and provides a visual indication of who is on the call.

Bridged appearance

This feature allows assistants to seamlessly push calls to the agents, wherever they are, without having to put anyone on hold. It allows assistants to control access and the agenda, while still maintaining the client experience.

Unified Directory

The directory provides instant access to all contacts from any device. “You just push the contacts button and call them by name,” said Gold. Integration with contact management system: Another big selling feature is the ability to integrate UTA’s in-house contact management system with IP Office, said Gold. “We can now dial any contact from our custom application with the click of a mouse. It’s very cool,” he said.

Integration with contact management system

Another big selling feature is the ability to integrate UTA’s in-house contact management system with IP Office. Said Gold, “We can now dial any contact from our custom application with the click of a mouse. It’s very cool.”

Managing Talent Everywhere

 
Managing Talent Everywhere
 

In the entertainment industry, agents need to be able to do business from anywhere. Much of the business is done on the road, but agents must always be available for their clients, said Gold.

UTA uses Avaya One-X Mobile for IP Office to save costs and improve the capabilities of its mobile workforce. This application enables full IP Office functionality, such as call forwarding and conferencing, on a mobile phone. It also works in VOIP mode, allowing mobile users to make calls over Wi-Fi or 3G and 4G data networks. With this feature, users can expect significant cost savings for international calls or while traveling.

At the end of the trip, most of the other agents had $3000 to $4000 in voice charges when they checked out of the hotel. Our agent had none because the calls were made using the app.
— Howie Gold, Director of IT

UTA is already seeing the benefits. In one instance, the agent for Nickelback was on a trip to China with other industry representatives to look at potential music venues. It was imperative for the agent to maintain client contact. At the end of the trip, most of the other agents had $3000 to $4000 in voice charges when they checked out of the hotel, said Gold. “Our agent had none because the calls were made using the app.” UTA team members experienced the same benefits when they were on a retreat at a 300-year-old castle in Ireland.

United Talent Agency Powered by Avaya IP Office

No More Growing Pains

After the acquisition of another company, UTA had outgrown the functionality of its previous system. IP Office grows cost-effectively with the business. The solution easily scales from five users to 3000, and from a single site to 150 networked locations. Organizations can simply build on to their existing investment.

A Smooth Implementation

The IP Office implementation was quick and easy, said Gold. On the technical side, “the Avaya Cloud Partner knocked it out of the park,” he said. Training on the new system was also very straight forward. “We have a very bright workforce and they understand the need to adapt,” said Gold.

Another advantage for Gold, as an IT director, is that Avaya’s IP Office includes a web portal, with data on system usage and performance. For example, it shows how many calls go through the office, usage on SIP trunks, and any errors on those trunks. “It’s a lot of useful functionality,” said Gold.

Future Transformation Plans

There is a tremendous opportunity for businesses to see the renewal as more than the replacement of equipment.

Now that the successful implementation of IP Office is nearly complete, Gold is looking forward to trying out Avaya Equinox. It creates a single, powerful gateway for calling, messaging, conferencing and collaboration. Communications capabilities, including mobile video screen sharing, follow a user’s profile on any device. “It offers functionality that some of our agents are asking for,” said Gold. “It’s the next wave.”

That’s also how Avaya Canada President David Robertson sees it. “With the huge Nortel installed base coming to the end of its useful life, there is a tremendous opportunity for businesses to see the renewal as more than the replacement of equipment,” said Robertson. “It is an opportunity to kick start their digital transformation.”