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Wahkiakum West is poised for the future with switch activation

Switch activation gives companies the ability to remotely provision many important actions in their telephone switch. In the case of Wahkiakum West, its customer service representatives can activate common calling features and also suspend and reconnect customers almost instantly from their desks in the front office. With customer service representatives empowered by the efficiency of switch activation to handle routine tasks, the company’s central office technician has time to tackle more challenging tasks.

Peggy Dotson, one of Wahkiakum West’s Customer Service Representatives, said it was the efficiency offered by switch activation that led this 1,100 access line company in Rosburg, Washington to install the needed equipment and develop the appropriate processes it requires.

“We’re growing and we needed to free up our central office technician to do other things,” she said.

The company’s owners made the decision to implement switch provisioning and purchased the needed equipment from a third-party vendor. As a MACC client, Wahkiakum West uses Customer Master for its billing and operational support needs. Customer Master is programmed to integrate easily with third-party applications, like those needed to provide switch provisioning. MACC’s role in the implementation process was more than just providing the operational support software. Our client support and programming teams also helped implement switch activation for Wahkiakum West.

While there were a few challenges during the implementation phase, Peggy said, they were minute compared to how well the system works.

“MACC coordinated the implementation process between our company and the vendor that provided the switch activation equipment. They also helped us translate our billing codes into a format that worked for switch activation,” she said.

Switch activation works through Customer Master’s service order process. When one of Wahkiakum West’s employees creates a service order, the USP code that is entered into the order prompts the switch activation system to action. The USP code becomes a command, which is sent to the switch activation equipment, and it’s translated into a switch command. The command is then sent to the switch and it conducts the requested activity. Peggy said from the time that the service order is applied to when a confirmation e-mail is sent is usually between three and five minutes. It’s so fast, that new calling features can often be turned on while the customer is still on the phone.

“We use it to turn on most of our calling features and to change long distance carriers,” she said. “The biggest benefit is the ability to suspend people for non-payment without waiting for the central office technician.”

The ability to undertake all of these switch related tasks allows Wahkiakum West’s customer service representatives to quickly clear open service orders. In the case of calling features, the ability to almost instantly turn them on allows the company to begin billing for the new services immediately. This leads to quicker revenue generation.

“We can take the request, apply a service order, send it to switch activation, and then close it out,” she said. “We’re then done with it and we can get it off our desk.”

If you’re interested in learning more about using switch activation and how it can be integrated with Customer Master, be sure to contact your Client Relations Manager or National Sales Representative.

Looking to the future, but remembering the past
With the implementation of switch activation, Wahkiakum West has an eye on its future, but the company’s owner and employees aren’t ones to forget its past or the history of its community. Carlton Appelo, Wahkiakum West’s President and Chief Executive Officer, is an avid collector of historical items from both the telecommunications industry and the surrounding community.

Carol Larson, Wahkiakum West’s Office Manager, said Carlton, who is 86 years-old, has been collecting historical items his entire life. His collection grew large enough that he was able to open a museum in the neighboring community of Naselle, which is also served by Wahkiakum West. The name of the museum is the Appelo Archive Center.

Besides Carlton’s collection, the museum receives many donations of historical pieces from members of the community who want to see its past preserved. The collection is large enough that it has a rotating display of featured items. Carol said the current display consists of wedding dresses that were worn by members of the community. She said the dress with the most unique history was actually made out of a silk parachute that the groom in a long-ago wedding used to escape from a damaged airplane during World War II. While Carol isn’t quite sure how the groom managed to save the parachute, he did and the bride’s grandmother turned it into a beautiful dress.

The museum also acts as a center for genealogy research in the area. It has scanned documents with historical records that can be used by members of the community who want to learn about their past. The museum even has a library room with books and documents in Finnish because many of the area’s settlers came from Finland.

While the museum is supported by a community foundation and staffed by paid employees, many of Wahkiakum West’s employees volunteered their time and talents to make the museum a reality, Carol said.

“Recording history was Carlton’s lifetime endeavor and now it’s on display,” she said.

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