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Bay Federal Credit Union Case Study

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Case Studies

Bay Federal Credit Union creates countrywide voice system with ShoreTel’s distributed IP PBX

Bay Federal Credit Union

Member service suffers

The phone system, which was a collection of antiquated key systems and Centrex service, had become a barrier to improving member service. Members were kept waiting and calls were inadvertently dropped or misdirected.

A solution that leveraged network upgrades and reduced costs

Since outstanding member service is a key element of Bay Federal’s brand strategy, Blaine Pack, chief technology officer for Bay Federal Credit Union, embarked on a search for a new phone system—one that would provide a better member interface, facilitate the loan-making and loan collection processes, improve staff productivity, offer streamlined operations and management, and be completely reliable. The right phone system would also need to complement and leverage the upgrades planned for the credit union’s data network and reduce telecommunications costs.

Pack also needed to find a solution that was easy to implement to meet an aggressive expansion schedule, which included installing a new LAN and WAN and adding a dedicated call center and a new retail branch, all within eight months.

Since other VoIP solutions had proven so expensive and fraught with implementation issues, Pack and his team focused their attention on two contrasting platforms: a traditional PBX from a leading PBX vendor and a VoIP system from ShoreTel.

An exhaustive evaluation convinced Bay Federal that ShoreTel offered more, while costing less to purchase and own. For example, the PBX vendor’s platform required distinct systems for the each site and separate servers for the different functions. “You just keep adding hardware as you expand, which means more administration overhead and more opportunities for failure,” Pack says.

In contrast, ShoreTel’s solution was distributed and integrated so that a single server and management interface could handle voicemail and administration for the entire multi-site system. ShoreTel’s flexibility and ease of use and management meant that Bay Federal could be more responsive to credit union members and adapt more quickly to changing market conditions.

ShoreTel streamlines communications, saves money, and improves customer service

The ShoreTel system gives Bay Federal’s employees individual numbers that outside callers can dial directly. Members who are trying to reach a specific person no longer get bounced around the system or put on hold, and staff time isn’t tied up with efforts to direct and connect calls. With ShoreTel’s distributed architecture, calls can be redirected to an individual in a different branch or the call center as easily as they can be sent to a neighboring desk.

“There is a huge hidden cost savings if callers can get right to the person they need without being transferred all over the place,” Pack says. These efficiencies speed up the process for making loans, and loans are any credit union’s lifeblood.

ShoreTel’s extensive call-logging features also helped improve service since there is a complete record of incoming and outgoing calls that provides a history of the interaction with specific members. Member complaints have dropped from a constant we-hate-the-phone-system litany to zero.

Lowering the TCO for reliable voice communications

The old key systems had long been paid for, but were costing about $2,100 per month in service charges. Even the smallest change required a truck roll from the vendor’s closest representative, who was about 50 miles away in Monterey. “He got a nice, scenic drive up the coast, but service was never exactly immediate,” recalls Pack. Each visit cost Bay Federal at least $100.

"THERE IS A HUGE HIDDEN COST SAVINGS IF CALLERS CAN GET RIGHT TO THE PERSON THEY NEED WITHOUT BEING TRANSFERRED ALL OVER THE PLACE.”

Blaine Pack, Chief Technology Officer
Bay Federal Credit Union

These costs were eliminated by ShoreTel’s intuitive browser-based management interface. Bay Federal’s IT staff can make moves, adds, and changes immediately with a few mouse clicks. Even adding an entire new branch is a simple matter.

This flexibility lets IT react quickly to rapid and ongoing growth at Bay Federal. When new features that make sense for the credit union become available, they can be added to the ShoreTel system via software upgrades. In contrast, key systems and PBXs implement features in hardware, and significant enhancements require a forklift upgrade with all its attendant costs, disruptions, and risks. “I’m getting too old for that sort of thing,” says Pack. “My stress level is a lot lower with the ShoreTel system.”

The ShoreTel system enables Bay Federal to eliminate expensive Centrex service and also generates significant toll-bypass savings. While all of the credit union’s locations are in Santa Cruz County, interbranch calls were racking up $1,500 a month in toll charges. Today, ShoreTel automatically routes interbranch calls across the credit union’s IP data backbone, leveraging the full-mesh T1 network that already connected the seven sites.

In moving to VoIP, Bay Federal was not willing to accept reliability levels lower than the 99.999 percent offered by traditional voice platforms. ShoreTel’s uniquely distributed call-control architecture actually beats the “five-nines” standard. There is no single point of failure in the ShoreTel system.

The smallest branch enjoys big credit union telephony

With ShoreTel, calls that do need to be redirected, ShoreTel delivers extensive call-control capabilities to even the most nontechnical users. Productivity is increased because incoming calls are no longer so disruptive, and branch operations look much more professional to visitors.

The workgroup capabilities in the ShoreTel Communicator have an even greater impact on productivity, making it easy for people to “collaborate on the fly,” says Pack. “It’s really nice that you can set up so many little call groups.” This lets Bay Federal leverage experts across the entire system when it is not cost-effective to have one resident in each branch.

“Before, maybe two people in the company knew how to use all the features of the phone system,” concludes Pack. “Now everyone can take advantage of the whole system. That’s a huge measure of success.”

“BEFORE, MAYBE TWO PEOPLE IN THE COMPANY KNEW HOW TO USE ALL THE FEATURES OF THE PHONE SYSTEM. NOW EVERYONE CAN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE WHOLE SYSTEM. THAT’S A HUGE MEASURE OF SUCCESS.”

CHALLENGE:

  • Bay Federal’s staff and members were unhappy with the phone system. There were no direct-inward-dial (DID) numbers, nor could calls made to a branch be transferred directly to the extensions of staff specialists at other sites.

SOLUTION:

  • The ShoreTel UC solution included ShoreTel IP Phones, ShoreTel Voice Switches, and ShoreTel Communicator.

BENEFITS:

  • Lower TCO
  • 99.999 percent availability
  • Toll bypass savings
  • Improved member satisfaction