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Minnwest Bank Case Study

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ShoreTel UC enables Minnwest Bank to provide high-touch customer service, while lowering TCO

Minnwest Bank

Banking on old-fashioned personalized service

The Minnwest Corporation operates 24 offices in 19 communities across Minnesota and South Dakota. The telephone is still one of the bank’s primary forms of communication.

A modern solution without complications

Minnwest was upgrading its IT architecture and data center operations, and wanted to also find a more modern solution for managing communications. “Ultimately, we were looking for ways to maximize operational efficiencies and simplify how people can accomplish work and communicate. First, we decided to move our data center from in-house to a hosted environment and switch to CenturyLink wide area networks,” says Jonathan Schiller, chief executive officer for MinnData Incorporated.

“We had been using Broadsoft for delivering voice and data over the IP networks, but were migrating to CenturyLink. We had a really old Merlin phone system, so there were limitations with features and capabilities. Not all of our sites had four-digit dialing, for example. Plus, we have VMware virtualization technology as an underpinning for IT, so we wanted to take advantage of virtualized IP communications if possible. Perhaps most important was trying to find a single solution for Voice over IP (VoIP) that was highly available, user-friendly, and would fit our unique needs,” he adds.

Working with CenturyLink to find an ideal VoIP platform, Minnwest considered solutions from major vendors, including Mitel, Cisco, and ShoreTel. After evaluating hands-on demonstrations, Schiller recognized how the ShoreTel UC platform would be easy to use and manage for both users and IT administrators.

“There was an inherent flexibility in the ShoreTel architecture, and we saw that there was a better chance of being able to handle customer service needs than with other more complicated systems. The system management would be less, too, because of ShoreTel’s intuitive interface and health monitoring and reporting. We ended up choosing ShoreTel for its incredible simplicity and stability, and ShoreTel is also certified as VMware Ready,” says Schiller.

Cashing in UC benefits

Minnwest Bank worked with CenturyLink to select a ShoreTel UC solution that would be deployed across 24 locations and virtualized with the VMware environment. The bank can run ShoreTel on VMware to extend the benefits of virtualization for cost savings and more efficient use of resources.

The solution includes ShoreTel Communicator, ShoreTel Conferencing, ShoreTel Voice Switches, and ShoreTel IP Phones and licenses. The bank also has engaged ShoreTel Professional Services for implementation, training, and ongoing support.

The ShoreTel UC Solution is purpose-built on a single scalable IP platform with a fully redundant distributed architecture and intelligent core software to ensure flexibility for managing change and growth. Consequently, Minnwest Bank will be able to effectively manage communications while maintaining the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) available.

Also contributing to lower TCO is ShoreTel’s support of SIP trunks. SIP trunking helps deliver UC streaming media applications such as Web conferencing, desktop sharing, and shared whiteboard. SIP trunks replace traditional fixed PSTN lines with those that can connect via ShoreTel for significant cost savings.

ShoreTel Communicator was chosen as part of the Minnwest strategy to improve customer services and unify how people can access and share information. Tightly integrated with Minnwest’s Microsoft Outlook applications, ShoreTel Communicator employs a single interface for voice, video, instant messaging, and data, allowing users to quickly simplify how they collaborate and communicate.

“Ultimately, we were looking for ways to maximize operational efficiencies and simplify how people can accomplish work and communicate. First, we decided to move our data center from in-house to a hosted environment and switch to CenturyLink wide area networks,”

Jonathan Schiller, Chief Executive Officer
MinnData Incorporated

Minnwest has 20 percent of its workforce using Communicator with Professional Access. For Minnwest’s remote employees, the Communicator’s softphone is a simple and secure way to extend ShoreTel UC to the nontraditional office environment for greater productivity.

ShoreTel ShoreTel Conferencing is another key aspect of Minnwest Bank’s new IP-based communications aptitude. Minnwest plans to use ShoreTel Conferencing to record training sessions for enhancing staff productivity and lowering the cost for more individualized or localized training.

Minnwest also takes advantage of the ShoreTel Technical Assistance Center (TAC), a support call center—that operates much like a help desk—for ShoreTel customers. “ShoreTel TAC has been fantastic for us. We are always able to get issues resolved quickly and get to the right level of help,” Schiller adds.

Bank saves $25,000 on long-distance charges alone

Minnwest Bank’s long-term objectives are to best serve Minnesota’s Twin Cities metropolis and regional centers, with additional banking locations and services. Helping to foster these goals is the ShoreTel UC solution. Since deploying ShoreTel, the bank has realized a higher level of customer service capabilities and greater cost savings.

“So far, we’ve been able to increase revenue and improve competitiveness, because of better customer service, enhanced employee productivity, and new capabilities we can offer for our banking customers. And we also have a single point of negotiation for vendor contracts and faster, easier problem resolution,” says Schiller.

In fact, Minnwest Bank expects an annual savings of $25,000 just on long-distance charges since switching to ShoreTel. With a proposed addition of ShoreTel Mobility, the bank expects further reductions in TCO while advancing access of UC tools across desktops and mobile devices. Minnwest Bank also has been able to simplify and centralize its IT department, rather than having IT administrators at each location.

By completely virtualizing its ShoreTel implementation with the VMware environment, Minnwest Bank also has been able to capitalize on lower IT costs, simpler administration, and improved system availability. “One of the big wins for us is that ShoreTel allowed us to truly centralize and bring everything under a single umbrella. The cost savings, employee productivity gains, increased customer service—it’s all here,” Schiller concludes.

“One of the big wins for us is that ShoreTel allowed us to truly centralize and bring everything under a single umbrella. The cost savings, employee productivity gains, increased customer service—it’s all here,”

CHALLENGE:

  • With a 20-year-old phone system and a growing company, Minnwest Bank needed to find a more modern solution for managing communications to enhance customer services and operational efficiencies.

SOLUTION:

  • Minnwest Bank selected a ShoreTel UC solution that included ShoreTel Conferencing, ShoreTel Communicator, ShoreTel IP Phones, ShoreTel Voice Switches, ShoreTel Enterprise Support, and SIP Trunking.

BENEFITS:

  • Better customer service management
  • Cost savings of $25,000 annually
  • Reduction of costs via centralized IT
  • Improved employee productivity