Summerland Credit Union replaces telephone system with NEC IP PBX

Friday, 15 June, 2012

Summerland Credit Union has overhauled its call centre and internal communications infrastructure, replacing its ageing telephony system in the process.

The credit union, with its head office and call centre in the northern NSW town of Lismore, was using three brands of PABX across its 13 branches, located from Grafton to Coolangatta, and a brand mix of analog and digital PABX systems. It was difficult to make changes or move handsets without in-depth technical knowledge of each system. And it was also difficult getting support and spare parts for the 13-year-old system at head office, where the call centre was located.

In evaluating three systems as part of an open RFI, Luke Haber, IT Manager, Summerland Credit Union, said: “The design was driven by the operational needs of our staff and had to cater for business expansion. The advanced call centre functionality called for integrated software and an appropriate IP PABX.”

The call centre wanted to merge three in-bound teams, improve delivery of incoming member calls and provide advanced automated reporting. The solution also had to factor in the inconsistent capacity and high cost of communications network services in regional Australia.

The company ultimately implemented a solution from NEC. Thanks to the Netlink functionality of the solution, four branches are soon to use the centralised integrated IP telephony network at head office, with 100 staff currently using the system. Twenty agents in the call centre provide internal support and inbound member contact.

It is envisaged the credit union will be able to spread any overflow to other branches to cater for peak loads and future growth. The remaining two branches are scheduled to have the SV8100 communications server with the Netlink feature installed later down the line.

A full line audit and deletion of unused lines is saving Summerland $35,000 per year in rental alone. An internal cabling upgrade has underpinned the installation of the NEC infrastructure. Following implementation, Summerland soon experienced increased call quality between branches and a reduction of faults.

Staff are using and/or customising Presence templates to record their location and availability, meaning calls can be directed quickly and accurately to the most appropriate person. This has led to faster response times for inbound queues and better contact management between staff and members.

“The NEC call centre software maintains accurate service levels with excellent reporting. We have measurable improvements in productivity and accountability for our call centre staff,” Haber said.

As the phone is integrated with Outlook most of the input and interaction is from the PC, which drives the handset. The IP PABX system at head office allows handsets to be moved without reprogramming.

“It’s easy to track down anyone anywhere in the organisation. Mobile staff like the voicemail-to-email integration. All extensions can set up a multiparty conference,” Haber said.

From the perspective of Haber and his four-person IT team, the NEC solution has a very low management overhead, with equipment supplier North Coast Telephone Systems (NCTS) contracted to provide all equipment and software support.

Haber said: “My goal is to have us managing our service providers, not under desks relocating phone handsets.”

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