Cheryl Fanning says a new UC system helped the University of Wisconsin Credit Union expand its membership.

May 20 2011

Seamless, Streamlined and Scalable UC

Unified communications helps the University of Wisconsin Credit Union strengthen relationships with customers, improve services and gain incremental business.

The University of Wisconsin Credit Union prides itself on listening carefully to its members and addressing their needs quickly. To accomplish that goal, three years ago the Madison-based institution decided to upgrade its legacy call center and phone system to streamline customer service and speed response.

Today, UW Credit Union relies on the Cisco Unified Communications Manager IP PBX and Cisco Unified Contact Center Express. The UCM telephony platform provides a mechanism for UCCX to communicate with UCM for call processing, while UCCX offers options to support multiple contact centers.

By allowing the credit union to successfully address thousands of customer transactions each month, the technology helps to support the organization’s ongoing objectives to streamline customer service, improve first-call resolution and achieve a higher level of member satisfaction, says Cheryl Fanning, call center director for the credit union.

During each of the past five years, UW Credit Union experienced a 5 percent to 12 percent membership growth, and now has more than 154,000 members. This growth has driven a steady increase in phone-based business transactions.

With legacy communication systems that include numerous independent servers and management consoles, the credit union’s call center struggled to handle the additional phone traffic. The inability to lev­erage existing systems and seamlessly implement call center communications with new branches was a growing challenge.

“To ensure our high service levels, we identified the need for a new call center solution,” Fanning says. “We wanted a solution that was customizable, innovative and cutting edge.”

Contact Center Capabilities

Successful call center service depends on a combination of short wait times, effective staff training and management, and high rates of first-call resolution. Cisco’s UCCX comes with a raft of features that help to drive improvements in all of these areas at UW Credit Union.

For example, the credit union takes advantage of UCCX’s real-time, call-in queue statistics to inform each caller of his or her expected wait time. If wait time is expected to exceed two minutes, UCCX’s Courtesy Callback feature lets callers opt for a return call when they reach the front of the queue, rather than waiting on the line.

Another feature the financial institution taps is Remote Virtual Agent. It lets staff at all UW Credit Union branches, or even at home, log in to the call center to answer member calls when wait times grow too long. “This capability enables us to effectively handle times where we have an unexpected number of calls,” Fanning says.

Medium to large businesses that have fully implemented unified communications

SOURCE: CDW 2011 Unified Communications Tracking Poll

UCCX’s tight integration with the credit union’s customer information database provides agents with automated screen pops containing the calling customer’s account and ID verification information. This feature improves productivity because agents no longer have to spend time manually gathering that information during the call.

With customer information immediately available, it’s also possible to personalize the phone call quickly and effectively. This allows calls to be routed automatically to agents with the right level of experience.

UCCX’s presence and rules-based call routing capabilities let call center financial specialists quickly connect callers to departmental experts. For example, if an expert in the mortgage department is needed to answer a customer inquiry, a financial specialist can use the Presence feature to imme­diately see which expert is available and ­either hand off the call, or collaborate with the expert to answer the question.

“With our previous system, for example, we transferred callers to a department that might not have staff available to help at that time,” Fanning adds. “Not only does the call center staff now know who’s available, they also know what the hold expectation might be for that expert.”

Customer information also can be passed on to the designated expert. That way the caller doesn’t have to waste time repeating everything after the transfer. All of this helps to reduce customer call times and enhance first-call resolution rates.

The system’s priority routing feature places callers needing help with UW Credit Union’s touchtone teller system automatically at the front of the queue. It also prioritizes callers whose questions were not answered by the first financial specialist they spoke with. “These sophisticated routing features help us lower the caller frustration level substantially,” says Jamie Valentine, UW Credit Union’s network manager.

Finally, UCCX’s web integration and click-to-call functionality allows online banking users to simply click a button to receive an immediate call back from a UW Credit Union financial specialist when help is needed. Additional functionality shows the specialist the exact web page the customer was working on when the call was requested. In addition, online banking users can post secure messages to the website and have them answered by call center specialists.

The combination of these features has made the entire member experience much more seamless and streamlined. “We’ve been sending out satisfaction surveys to members for more than four years,” ­Fanning says. “Currently, our satisfaction levels are the highest they have ever been.”

Peak Staff Performance

When it comes to staff training and management, Cisco’s Workforce Optimization options have also proved highly valuable to UW Credit Union. These features allow call center supervisors to monitor call center staff in real time and record customer calls automatically when appropriate.

“Our previous system was very limited in its capabilities — limited recording options and call statistic reporting plus no real-time monitoring,” Fanning says. “Call recording was a manual, arduous process that required managers to choose which calls to record in real time and activate recording manually at the right time.”

Today, the Cisco solution has both automated call recording and screen capture, which records everything on the financial specialist’s screen during the call, in addition to audio.

“By seeing exactly how staff members navigate during a call, we’ve been able to make tremendous improvements in specialist training,” Fanning adds.

Easier Configuration and Management

In addition to top-notch features for customer service, Cisco’s UCCX also excels in ease of administration and configuration. Before implementing the product’s call processing components, UW Credit Union supported its customers in a distributed fashion with a central PBX in its headquarters and a small PBX in every branch location.

The architecture was considered cumbersome to manage, with time-consuming moves requiring adds, changes and the need to update more than 15 PBX systems at a time. The older call center system also offered no redundancy to keep the service working in the event of phone line or hardware failure and could only service agents at Madison headquarters.

Today, UW Credit Union has redundant UCM and UCCX systems in its main data center and a third UCM system in a remote disaster recovery data center. Centralized configuration reduces downtime in the event of an outage.

In addition, it’s now easier than ever to add new credit union branches to the system. System management along with moves, adds and changes are simpler using Cisco’s centralized web-based graphical user interface. Scalability is also much improved. “We were looking for a system that could grow with our business from year to year,” ­Valentine says. “Cisco provides the capacity and scalability that supports our level of growth.”

The contact center’s remote agent capabilities also provide for business continuity and disaster recovery. With Cisco’s Survivable Remote Site Telephony feature, branch staff can get a dial tone from the headquarters system when local lines are down, and place and receive calls through their local phone lines when the WAN is down.

With all the systems, software and phones provided by a single vendor, technical support and troubleshooting have improved as well, according to Greg Yelk, IT director at UW Credit Union.

“Previously we had one vendor in the Madison area that supported our phone system,” Yelk says. “Now we have a local Cisco support rep and multiple local Cisco vendors in the area that can be of help when we need it. And everything comes from one company.”

Growing with the Business

UW Credit Union’s IT staff appreciates the forward-looking, progressive engineering qualities found in Cisco products. “All the features work together very smoothly,” Valentine notes. “We can integrate features within Workforce Management, such as agent report cards, with the quality management software.”

One of the most notable features of the Cisco UCCX is its scalability. When UW Credit Union is ready to take advantage of a new contact center feature or capability, usually it’s available in the Cisco product.

“Many of the features we were looking for weren’t available from the legacy system,” Valentine adds. “We’d either have to make it work some other way with another product that didn’t integrate very well or wait for the vendor to come up with those features that we were looking for. With the Cisco product, we’re instead spending time figuring out how to better use the phone system’s long list of existing features.”

In the future, UW Credit Union plans to take advantage of live chat and video conferencing capabilities. Further integration with the company’s quality management system will eventually make it possible to search call recordings for keywords that customers are using in order to analyze recordings and gain additional insight about their needs.

Mark Battrell

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