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Summit Credit Union Case Study

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Case Studies

Summit Credit Union puts its money on ShoreTel’s distributed technology and intuitive interface

Summit Credit Union

A VoIP solution with features that enable better customer service

Approaching the phone situation as a customer service problem, Drew Lawrence, director of information technology (IT) at Summit, and his team wanted a voice solution that would help credit union employees enhance customer service.

Single, multi-site phone system to consolidate services

Throughout a 26-year career in the financial services industry, Summit Credit Union CEO Andrew Faust has stuck to a simple but powerful philosophy: Provide legendary customer service, which has grown to focus on providing trusted financial advice. Everything he does has a customer focus, and he expects the same of his staff.

“In the technology arena, when you have to focus on customers instead of the infrastructure, it changes how you think about things,” says Lawrence. “If you do initiatives for technology reasons, you are failing.”

Summit was formed out of a merger between State Capitol and Commonwealth credit unions. Lawrence was tasked with unsnarling a phone environment that included old PBXs, key systems, and handsets from a variety of vendors and suppliers; an abundance of POTS and Centrex lines; a mixed voice and network topology; and a file drawer full of expensive service contracts.

“At one point I had 38 different phone bills on my desk for a single month,” explains Lawrence. The majority of administrative tasks relating to their phones were outsourced, and service was often slow and expensive.

The organization began looking for a VoIP solution and came up with a short list of candidates, including legacy voice vendor Nortel, network vendor Cisco Systems, and VoIP specialist ShoreTel, Inc.

Nortel offered up an IP-enabled Meridian switch but would still require administration and support by a third party, with all the associated delays and costs. And though Summit is a Cisco network shop, Cisco’s VoIP system would require major restructuring of the credit union’s data network, and was quite hardware intensive and difficult to manage.

After checking customer references in the financial services arena, Summit went with ShoreTel.

Call center integration enhances customer service

Good call center capabilities are a must for such a customer-focused business.

“The integration of the ShoreTel phone system with our call center was a huge benefit,” Lawrence says. With ShoreTel, each branch can have a custom auto-attendant to suit local callers and still redirect calls back to the central call center to handle certain requests. Now Summit can give branch callers a local touch and still provide an enterprise call center when needed.

The auto-attendant choices link to queues are set up for each physical site, and for various workgroups that may span multiple locations. For example, if a member calls in and chooses the mortgage option from the auto-attendant, the call is automatically routed to mortgage experts in the appropriate branch or department.

ShoreTel increases productivity; Summit Credit Union maximizes resources

All Summit employees are now on the same phone and voicemail system, with four-digit and dial-by-name dialing, as well as message forwarding across all locations.

“IN THE TECHNOLOGY ARENA, WHEN YOU HAVE TO FOCUS ON CUSTOMERS INSTEAD OF THE INFRASTRUCTURE, IT CHANGES HOW YOU THINK ABOUT THINGS. IF YOU DO INITIATIVES FOR TECHNOLOGY REASONS, YOU ARE FAILING.”

Drew Lawrence
Director of Information Technology
Summit Credit Union

ShoreTel has also helped those offices that use a receptionist. “Our Sun Prairie office is the former Commonwealth credit union headquarters, and the receptionist was using a lot of old equipment with flashing lights. She was delighted with the ShoreTel interface through her PC, and wouldn’t go back to the old equipment for anything,” says Lawrence.

The receptionist uses ShoreTel’s presence intelligence and Extension Monitor to check the status of people before she transfers calls to them. Consequently, fewer members calling in end up getting bounced from extension to extension and leaving multiple voicemail messages. Members now get to a live person most of the time.

Summit also has lenders and other staff who use different offices and branches. “One of the strongest features of the system for our credit union is ShoreTel’s Any Phone feature,” states Lawrence. “With Any Phone, an employee can simply log into any telephone in the system and bring their entire phone profile with them to any location.”

ShoreTel provides rapid ROI and an expected $200,000 in cost savings over five years

Lawrence and his team haven’t done a detailed ROI study yet, but they expect to see savings in excess of $200,000 over five years from such advantages as toll-bypass, least-cost routing, decreases in monthly service calls, etc. Quantifiable savings include the elimination of Centrex lines and the maintenance contracts with third parties, plus the benefits of toll bypass. Additionally, the initial investment in ShoreTel equipment was significantly lower than the alternative VoIP solutions they evaluated.

ShoreTel’s intuitive management interface makes it easy for the IT staff to set up least-cost routing so that long-distance calls bypass the carrier toll networks. Moves, adds, and changes take minutes instead of days since they can be performed by Lawrence’s IT staff from anywhere via ShoreTel’s browser-based interface.

The 12-person IT department is also one of the heaviest users of ShoreTel’s built-in three-way conferencing. The IT staff also found the Outlook integration and unified messaging very convenient. For example, when Summit’s email or other business-critical server is down for any reason, the user community can be informed of the problems via a voicemail broadcast using ShoreTel.

“In the IT department, we view Summit’s staff as our internal customers, and we use ShoreTel’s capabilities to also help better serve the members—our external customers. Making sure ShoreTel met our customers’ needs first and foremost was essential, and were thrilled with the results and how we’ve been able to make that happen,” concludes Lawrence.

“IN THE IT DEPARTMENT, WE VIEW SUMMIT’S STAFF AS OUR INTERNAL CUSTOMERS, AND WE USE SHORETEL’S CAPABILITIES TO ALSO HELP BETTER SERVE THE MEMBERS—OUR EXTERNAL CUSTOMERS.”

CHALLENGE:

  • After a merger, newly formed Summit had a jumble of telephony hardware and software, and lots of bills from outside service providers. Costs needed to come down, and a modern telephone system needed to be deployed.

SOLUTION:

  • ShoreTel provided a single, multi-site phone system across 10 branches, four-digit dialing, ShoreTel Call Center, and ShoreTel Director for remote management.

BENEFITS:

  • Rapid ROI
  • Estimate cost savings of $200,000 over five years
  • Improved customer service
  • Increased call center productivity