Voka: “Permanent accessibility thanks to Microsoft Teams”

Published on 29/09/2020 in Customer Stories

Voka: “Permanent accessibility thanks to Microsoft Teams”

The Chamber of Commerce of Flemish Brabant introduced Microsoft Teams at Voka via a pilot project. The Flemish network for enterprises discovered Teams as a solution for innovative communication.

Voka, the Flemish network for enterprises, molds and markets itself as the innovative partner par excellence for the Flemish entrepreneur. The organization comprises eight Chambers of Commerce. As one of the seven social partners in the Socio-Economic Council of Flanders, it has a say in the policy of the Flemish government. “We lead the way in all areas,” says Stefanie Vanmeerbeek, Marketing Intelligence Analyst at the Chamber of Commerce (CoC) of Flemish Brabant. “Hence our decision to replace our obsolete telephony infrastructure.”

Easily accessible

The employees of the CoC of Flemish Brabant work from offices in Vilvoorde and Leuven. Telephony is crucial in this respect. Stefanie: “We wanted our employees to be reachable via a single number at all times, regardless of which office they are in, and also when they work from home.”

In consultation with Proximus and partner IT-Care, the CoC of Flemish Brabant decided to develop a pilot project around Microsoft Teams. “We went through an intensive preparation phase together with IT-Care,” says Sophie Thiebaut, Marketing Communications Director at the CoC of Flemish Brabant. “Internally, we have designated a few digital natives as contact points. This ensured that all employees could easily turn to a colleague with any questions.”

All Chambers of Commerce are connected to the Proximus Explore network. “A great advantage here is that it simplifies cooperation between the Chambers,” said Stefanie. “For example, there is a multi-Chamber working group that is developing a mobile application for our relationship managers. Many of the meetings about that project have taken place via Teams. This resulted in a lot of time being saved because we were able to avoid a lot of physical travel.”

The biggest change thanks to Teams? Harmonizing which channel we use for which type of communication.

Stefanie Vanmeerbeek, Marketing Intelligence Analyst at CoC of Flemish Brabant

Shared services

Teams also reduced the number of transfers between the CoC of Flemish Brabant’s offices. “The strength of the solution lies not only in the ability to easily organize a video conference,” said Sophie, “but also in the integration of applications like SharePoint and OneNote. During a virtual meeting, everyone always has all the documents at hand.” Thanks to the use of such shared services – where participants share each other’s screen or documents – Teams can make the difference with a physical meeting very small. “For example, you can supplement something in a document while other participants watch,” Sophie explained.

When the coronavirus pandemic broke out and Voka employees were forced to work from home, the availability of Teams gave them a great advantage. “The fact that we had encouraged our employees to become familiar with Teams in the previous months was obviously a stroke of good luck,” Stefanie added. The associated change management approach proved to be a key success factor for the rollout of Teams. “Our employees were able to get to know Teams even before the actual rollout. Colleagues within the teams acted as points of contact while IT-Care provided the necessary training.”

The right communication channel

At the CoC of Flemish Brabant, Teams is already used for much more than just videoconferencing. Classic telephony is now also taking place on the platform. However, the step from the old, familiar telephone exchange to Teams was a fairly big change for the reception staff, among others. “They pick up the incoming calls and forward them to the right employees,” Sophie explained. “We have, of course, provided training. As an employee, you must then adapt as quickly as possible so that you do not get stuck in old habits.”

Teams also brought about a change in the way other employees worked. “It’s a matter of making the right arrangements,” said Stefanie. “For example, everyone knows what we use Teams for, what we discuss via chat, what we put in emails, where we place the documents, and so on. Perhaps the biggest change of all was harmonizing which channel we use for which type of communication.”

Equally important is the fact that the CoC of Flemish Brabant continues to monitor the adoption of Teams long after the original rollout was implemented. “We make sure everyone’s with us – and stays with us,” said Sophie. “One of the ways we do this is by regularly launching a poll in Teams, which we use to gauge employees’ responses.”

During the lockdown, entrepreneurs called us about the corona measures. Thanks to Teams, we remained accessible.

Sophie Thiebaut, Marketing Communications Director at the CoC of Flemish Brabant

author

Email alternative

The use of Teams has also brought nothing but benefits for Voka’s customers – the affiliated entrepreneurs. “During the lockdown, entrepreneurs called us with questions about the corona measures,” said Sophie. “It was very important to us that we remained accessible at all times during this period. Thanks to Teams, we were able to guarantee this accessibility at all times, even among our teleworkers.”

The expectation is that the positive experience at the CoC of Flemish Brabant will now be shared by the other Chambers in the unfolding story of Teams. “We want to further expand the use of Teams,” Stefanie added. “Among other things, we are working on a plan to phase out the use of email among colleagues and replace it with messages within Teams. Another domain we are looking at is offering first-line advice via chat in Teams.”

At the same time, the CoC of Flemish Brabant is also looking into the possibility of integrating the use of voicebots. “A voicebot may be a little too impersonal for the phone calls with customers,” believes Stefanie. “However, it might also be nice when a voicebot manages to understand the caller’s question correctly and connect the caller to the right contact person immediately.” In addition, the CoC of Flemish Brabant also sees several possibilities for the internal use of voicebots. “To record a visitor’s report, for example, or to schedule an appointment in the agenda.”

Stefanie Vanmeerbeek studied applied economics and business management at KU (Katholieke Universiteit [Catholic University] Leuven. She has been a Marketing Intelligence Analyst at the Chamber of Commerce of Flemish Brabant for the past two years.

Sophie Thiebaut studied graphic design and marketing and gained an MBA degree from Vlerick School of Management. She has been the Marketing Communications Director at the Chamber of Commerce of Flemish Brabant since last year.

Voka is the Flemish network for enterprises. Approximately 18,000 enterprises are affiliated to the organization, accounting for two thirds of private sector employment in Flanders. Voka has 362 employees and organizes 1,200 events per year.

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