Chris Kontz | Director of IT and CIO
The organization works with around 1,000 companies a year on various projects ranging in industries including aerospace and defense, technology and innovation, manufacturing, bioscience and healthcare, and business and financial services. They assist businesses through programs involving talent and training, rural economic development, international trade, and location and site assistance.
Chris Kontz, Director of IT and CIO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, has been with the organization since 2002 when it was the Arizona Department of Commerce, prior to becoming the Arizona Commerce Authority in 2011.
“We switched to Nextiva because it is a local company, and contributes to our mission to help Arizona businesses grow, and the pricing was better for us. During implementation, the Nextiva team handled it all for us, we just let them know what we needed.”
“We have three approaches we use to advance the economy,” Kontz said. “We recruit out-of-state companies to expand operations in Arizona, work with existing companies to grow their business in Arizona and beyond, and partner with entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes to create new jobs and businesses in certain industries we focus on.” In 2017, they engaged with more than 1,000 companies in the target areas of attraction, expansion, creation, and financial programs.
The Arizona Commerce Authority had a contract with a local telecommunications company that used a third-party VoIP provider for phone service. Kontz said the system worked well for the most part, but when issues occurred, it could take two to three weeks to diagnose the problem and another week to fix it, which was frustrating for Kontz. This lack of responsiveness led him to search for another communications provider.
He identified about 10 companies that were hosted VoIP providers nationwide, and found Nextiva in his search. After compiling a list of companies for the RFP, Kontz and those involved in the decision-making process compared them in value, features, and pricing. “Nextiva is a local company, the feature set is similar to other companies, and Nextiva’s pricing was better for us,” Kontz said of key factors that impacted their decision. “I like the way the administration side of things works, and Nextiva’s customer support.” Taking these aspects into consideration, the ACA decided Nextiva was the best fit, and switched in July 2015.
The implementation process was smooth. “The Nextiva team handled it all for us; we just let them know what we needed.” The Arizona Commerce Authority started the process by sending Nextiva a list of phone numbers and to which employees they belonged. Nextiva was then able to assign numbers to the correct devices and users, which Nextiva got set up before porting was even complete. “It worked out really well, because we scheduled the porting to take place on a Friday afternoon. Our new phone system was up and running by the time they ported over the numbers.”
Nextiva Support walked Kontz through setting up the phones, and he and his IT team provisioned the phones for employees. They held meetings to go over phone usage, and distributed feature summary documentation for employees to review. The organization has 85 lines of service for 70 employees working out of the Phoenix office and four who work in other locations.
The ACA uses Auto Attendants, Call Groups, the Nextiva App, and the NextOS Portal, which help them provide services and resources to Arizona businesses. “We have an Auto Attendant for our main dial-in number. Our Auto Attendant has a couple different levels on it, including a main one and a couple branched Auto Attendants based on what people select. They route calls to where they need to go if people don’t have someone’s direct number.”
They also have two Call Groups—one for their small business group, which bounces calls between two people, and one for their film and digital media office, which bounces between five people.
“When I’ve called Support, I haven’t had to wait more than two minutes for someone to answer the phone. Most of the time, the issue is resolved in less than 10 minutes, and it’s certainly made our lives a lot easier in managing the phones.”
Kontz explained that employees who work in California, temporary staff, and interns use the Nextiva App the most. The ACA’s designated space for temporary staff and interns doesn’t have an ethernet connection, so they aren’t able to plug in a phone. This makes the Nextiva App extremely convenient. “The people who have the App love it - especially that they can use it on their cell phone,” Kontz said.
When reaching out to Nextiva for support, Kontz said he looks at the online resources before calling. “When I’ve called, I haven’t had to wait more than two minutes for someone to answer the phone. Most of the time, the issue is resolved in less than 10 minutes, and it’s certainly made our lives a lot easier in managing the phones.”
“The service and support is outstanding,” Kontz expanded. “When I call Support, they walk me through how to do things on the administrative side. The NextOS Portal is very intuitive and user friendly, and it is a snap to make changes. I can set up a new line for a new user in less than five minutes. It’s pleasant interacting with Support— every experience I’ve had has been good.”
The Arizona Commerce Authority is rapidly expanding its presence and reach, and by using Nextiva, they can stay in touch with businesses, stakeholders, and potential leads for programs to increase businesses’ success and help Arizona commerce thrive.