Banking on Contact Centers: Sound Technology for Solid Communications
By Travis Dillard, President & CEO
From healthcare to finance, there’s little that contact centers can’t do to help improve communications in any organization. It’s all in how you approach using contact center technology for better communication and overall business continuity. Recently we helped First Federal – a bank in Yamhill County Oregon that had become the area’s leading financial services provider but were lagging behind on outdated phone systems. They were looking to integrate several branch offices and a massive update on their technology, which had an average failure of once a year and led to a significant disruption to business and member service.
1. Branch Office Integration
Each branch office had older Nortel phone systems. The systems were stand-alone, and offered no integration options. To reach an employee at another branch, one had to dial the main number of that location and asks to be transferred. To improve member services and gain staff efficiencies, First Federal’s evolving business requirements demanded that offices were more tightly integrated. The situation didn’t allow basic integration features like station-to-station dialing and inter-office call routing let alone advanced Unified Communication features like presence and Instant Messaging.
2. Business Disruption
Although the old phone systems were under maintenance, they averaged one failure per year. This caused an entire day of branch downtime, causing a significant disruption to business and member service.
3. Flexibility and Ease of Administration
A core requirement was the ability for IT personnel to easily make changes to the communications system, company-wide. The existing legacy systems presented multiple, complex administration consoles with little flexibility. A single-image system with a simple web interface was required.
4. Call Center
First Federal also knew that, with a holistic Unified Communications architecture, call over-flow from the branches to a central call center was possible. First Federal wanted to capture these previously unanswered calls at a central call center located at the corporate office. This functionality would improve member service and capture potential lost revenue.
5. Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
First Federal IT staff knew that advanced Unified Communications solutions could offer much more in the way of Business Continuity. The current phone systems had multiple points of failure, were old and failing, and offered nothing in the way of redundancy. Any event, from a failed CPU, inclement weather, or dial tone outages, would result in an extended and major disruption in communications service.
After undergoing an evaluation with the client, we found 3 simple ways to integrate various branches while saving costs and improving overall business continuity. By introducing ShoreGear voice switch to create a “single-system image,” the available PRI channels could be accessed from all sites for inbound/outbound dialing. This allowed First Federal to cancel most of the analog dial tone services at the branch offices, resulting in over 55% dial tone savings. Plus, we spun up the main ShoreTel Unified Communications application server in a VMware environment at the headquarters office. This “Headquarter” server handles centralized voicemail, web administration, and other collaboration features like Instant Messaging. Lastly, we added our own web-based, all-inclusive reporting and analytics package, Inflow Analytics.
55% Dial Tone Savings: By leveraging ShoreTel’s single-system architecture and consolidated PRI services, First Federal could eliminate a multitude of analog trunks throughout the organization, which lead to 55% in dial tone savings.
40% Maintenance Savings: The ShoreTel system ease of administration, coupled with Inflow’s all-inclusive support package that includes many innovative features like 24x7x365 support, proactive monitoring, and hardware/software maintenance, was a big win.
53% Network Savings: Upgrading the network was an ancillary benefit. First Federal replaced old, copper/T1-based network connections with a private fiber optics network, increasing the bandwidth 10 times at all locations while saving over $3,000 per month.
Along with additional benefits like Inter-Branch Call Routing, corporate-wide instant messaging and improved business continuity, First Federal now has a single-system, modular, fully redundant architecture, and simplicity of management. Which was precisely what First Federal needed to advance their communications. Improved flexibility and elegance to easily make changes, solid Business Continuity for a multitude of failure scenarios, and a rich collaboration feature set to improve day-to-day communications for staff continues to support First Federal’s current needs and help them expand for the future. We were able to create a system that exceeds the needs of First Federal and a long-term beneficial partnership with the nation’s leading provider of integration and support services for ShoreTel. This means happy employees, happy customers, and happy management.
If you’re wondering what communications platform to use, keep in mind that it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Choosing the right platform and designing the right configuration will help to truly advance your communications. The technology and the strategy have to go hand-in-hand to truly meet and exceed your communications expectations.