Challenges: The firm was established in 1908 by Herbert Edward Harrowell and in 2007 acquired a number of new sites in the centre of York which ultimately needed networking together.

Solution: Fibre and multi-core copper cable links to each building

Benefits: Faster response to calls and improved client confidentiality. Inbound calls for all offices now routed through one centralised system.


About Harrowells Solicitors

Following a long term working relationship York-based Harrowells Solicitors did not think twice about asking Solar Communications, the Salford-based telecoms company, to network their new offices and modernise their existing phone system.

Solar Communications implemented an intuitive and technologically advanced system which also involved York City Council carrying out essential road works for the system to work at peak performance. The outcome was a tailored solution that brought together Harrowells’ phone and IT systems, resulting in major improvements in customer service, internal communications and staff productivity.

The Background
As one of North Yorkshire’s largest law firms, Harrowells Solicitors provides a wide range of legal services.

The firm was established in 1908 by Herbert Edward Harrowell and in 2007 acquired a number of new sites in the centre of York which, ultimately, needed networking together.

Solar Communications engineers were asked to consider the most cost-effective options and decided the optimum solution was to lay down fibre and multi-core copper cable links to each building.

Home working and Staff Productivity

Whilst Harrowells is a long established law firm it has always embraced change and as a result has fully supported the concept of home working. Systems are now in place to enable team leaders to manage remote teams, to review the performance of home workers and to provide support and extra training where necessary. Four years ago Solar Communications was instructed to implement a VOIP phone system for Harrowells’ home workers which resulted in a substantial cost saving.

By using an internet-based system Harrowells’ managers now use sophisticated reporting software to monitor call rates and staff productivity in real-time. In addition, the ability to view aggregate data reports allows managers to analyse and identify any areas of concern and act quickly and appropriately.

Customer Service

It is commonly acknowledged that home working can lead to improvements in customer service and as Solicitors operate in a highly competitive market client relationships are critical. A telephone call is likely to be the first interaction between a client and the Firm therefore it is important that calls are handled well every time. This necessitates a first-rate phone system as well as the appropriate training for those operating it.

Solar Communications advised the installation of an Attendant Console as the central part of the new system to allow client service assistants, based in the firm’s main telephone room, to see incoming calls on their computer screen and prioritise them as they come in. At a glance client service assistants are able to see who is available in a department, where they are and when they will be able to return the call.

The previous system relied on lights which could only indicate when the switchboard was being used and the number of active calls. Being able to advise clients when they can expect their call to be returned, or being re-directed to another member of the team with knowledge of their case has led to significant improvement in customer service.

Internal Communications and Staff Productivity

Professionalism in any company relies on good internal communications and Harrowells relies heavily on reporting software to continually assess the functionality of the phone system. Solar Communications developed a unified messaging system whereby when a voicemail is left, an email containing a sound file of the message is sent to the relevant recipient. Once this function was added, the firm’s management enforced strict guidelines for all staff to use this facility on an ongoing basis.

Given the heavy workload of most solicitors and the complex nature of many cases Armstrong Communications identified that Harrowells would also benefit from a ‘do not disturb’ function as well as the ability to transfer calls when people were not available. This improvement to internal communications ensures that staff receive accurate messages and do not spend valuable work-time taking messages for absent colleagues.

The Future

Harrowells has set up a telecoms committee to bring operational issues to the attention of Solar Communications, this ensures they are able to maintain a system that works hard and efficiently, continually evolving to meet the needs of the growing number of staff at the firm.

Dan Mitchell added:
“The time and dedication Solar Communications has spent building a relationship with Harrowells means they know who to contact within the firm to discuss specific technical issues and potential benefits. The Solar Communications team has continuously adapted to how we operate, which certainly helped the less technical amongst us gain a true understanding of our telecoms system and its capabilities. Client service is more important than ever and Solar Communications has always been on hand to suggest more efficient ways of dealing with calls and streamlining processes as we grow:”