Transforming the workplace and customer service with unified communications

Telstra Calling for Office 365 empowers support workers to better serve the community.

December 10, 2019

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Samaritans, a regional not-for-profit social welfare agency operating throughout Eastern NSW, provides support for people with disability, disadvantaged children and young people, the homeless, and those with mental health challenges.

Getting in touch with their customers, as well as their staff, was hindered by an aging, disparate communications system. Their staff had raised the issue of being unable to connect and collaborate easily among their colleagues in different locations. As the physical communications systems were not connected, staff also had to deal with inconsistencies and increased travel time to collaborate with peers.

Key issues

  • Disparate and impractical communications system that was difficult to manage. Samaritans required the support of third-party technicians approximately once a fortnight for support with their phone systems limiting staff’s ability to respond to customers during down time and added expenses to Samaritans service delivery.
  • Staff required a consistent collaboration experience across their sites.
  • The unified communications (UC) solution needed to be cost-effective without compromising security and risk requirements.


Telstra has been a long-standing partner for Samaritans, working closely with a local Telstra Business Solutions Lead for their network, cybersecurity, and mobility needs.

Telstra introduced Samaritans to Telstra Calling for Office 365 (TCO365), which brings together simple, intuitive calling with the best of Microsoft’s cloud collaboration tools across devices. Apart from reduced complexity in collaboration, it also empowers organisations like Samaritans to meet security and compliance demands easily, in one cost-effective package.

As part of the process we:

  • Delivered a solution that met the organisation’s requirements of cost-effectiveness, security and risk compliance, scalability.
  • Extended Samaritans’ investment in Office 365 as a strategic technology solution
  • Deployed the TCO365 solution across 54 services for 500+ staff using internal resources to support the change for employees


TCO365 helped Samaritans progress in their journey toward digital maturity, with a solution aligned with their longer-term IT strategy.

“It helped us become a more modern, more efficient workplace, with the solution empowering our staff to collaborate more easily through video calling and instant messaging which we did not have previously,” said Luke Russell, Samaritans’ Head of Business Technology. “Everyone now collaborates using the same technology and we have the assurance of knowing our security and compliance needs are met.”

Lessons learnt along the way

Beyond the immediate results that TCO365 delivered for the organisation, the solution has also empowered Samaritans to respond better to the varying needs of their communities.

“Some of our teams have started using the solution for group calls with clients’ families and case workers, delivering a simple and intuitive experience helps improve the service and relationship between them, and care that clients receive,” said Luke. “During the NSW bush fire recovery efforts in 2019 some of our team were forced to evacuate their offices while others were setting up disaster relief stations. Having one business phone number and being able to respond to calls through the Microsoft Teams mobile app meant our team could respond to the disaster and remain available to those clients requiring assistance for the bush fires recovery efforts, without being desk-bound,” added Luke.
  • TCO365 met Samaritans’ current business requirements, with the flexibility to scale as their needs change in the future.
  • A modern, more efficient workplace can attract the best talent to an organisation, as employees tend to be more conscious of technology being used by prospective employers. Samaritans can establish itself as an employer of choice offering modern collaboration experience including video calling, easy and fast file sharing, document collaboration and user presence monitoring.
  • A simple, intuitive UC solution empowers their staff to respond quicker to their clients’ needs creating a better customer experience. Staff now feel more equipped to call people back while they are on the road