Community First Credit Union

The implementation of an integrated unified communications and contact centre solution for Community First Credit Union’s 150-strong team has enhanced its customer service capabilities while allowing the business to adapt to new ways of working. RingCentral’s platform has given staff in Community First’s stores greater scope to manage their member’s needs and made its contact centre more responsive and productive.
Industry
Banking and Finance
Hq
Sydney, Australia
Year founded
1959
number of stores
14
Industry
Banking and Finance
Hq
Sydney, Australia
Year founded
1959
number of stores
14
Our differentiator against the big four banks isn’t our products, it’s our people. Being better able to manage those demand times when our members want us is critical to our customer intimacy and service, and RingCentral’s workforce management has been instrumental to make sure that our staff are at the time and place where our members want them to be.
Benjamin Irons
Head of Direct Channels, Community First Credit Union
KEY STATS
Deployment in HQ and to 14 stores in NSW and QLD
Enablement of flexible working policies and hybrid working practices
Significant improvements in customer first call resolution
Optimisation of staffing levels in the contact centre
Community First Credit Union is a member-owned and run retail bank that strives to offer its members something different and truly puts members first in the delivery of products and services which help them achieve their personal financial goals. One of Sydney’s largest community-based credit unions with approximately 60,000 members and over one billion dollars in assets, Community First originally started in 1959 as the Sydney Water Board Officers Credit Union Co-Op.
Community First has 14 stores in New South Wales and Queensland, operating nationally with members across the country. Community First also has an online subsidiary, Easy Street, which offers a range of banking products designed to be managed online by the customer. 
Community First’s contact centre supports the needs of members of the credit union’s retail store network and also its Easy Street customers. However, an ageing on-premise hardware-based telephony system required the agents’ desk phones to be plugged into the corporate network and was only accessible from Community First’s physical locations. It was also very inflexible.
“We had no customisation ability, and we weren’t able to do any routing,” said Benjamin Irons, Head of Direct Channels, Community First Credit Union.
After scoping the market, Community First postponed the decision to upgrade with a solution that was just focused on the contact centre, as it might have created too much of a separation with the rest of the organisation.
However, when Sydney was forced into COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020, Community First had to move quickly.
“We found ourselves between a rock and a hard place. Our contact centre agents were stuck in the office because their phones were bound to their desk. We needed to very quickly find a solution that would offer us a greater level of flexibility for staffing, to reduce the potential impact in business continuity to members. If we started to have cases in the office, we essentially would have had to shut down our contact centre, which would have been a significant issue for us,” said Irons.
Community First has a very strong customer intimacy focus, with its model of “people helping people” standing the test of time – so the organisation took the opportunity not just to look at how it could get closer to the customer through the contact centre, but also to find a solution that involved the entire organisation. In addition to allowing staff to work from different locations, Community First wanted a phone system that would support its flexible work policies, particularly catering for staff returning from maternity leave, and balancing work and family.
Three-month pilot ensuring rollout success
After choosing the RingCentral platform as the ideal integrated unified communications as a service (UCaaS) and contact centre as a service (CCaaS) solution, Community First ran a three month UCaaS trial for its Green Loans team based in a regional location, implementing a basic call queue for the team’s national 1300 number for direct engagement with customers.
“We wanted to manage the implementation and change risks, obviously working from a position of no detrimental impacts to our members. We learnt very quickly the benefit of flexibility with RingCentral because the team was able to work from home whilst the rest of the staff was stuck in the office,” said Irons.
“We found different ways to connect with customers that we didn't have before and, because we could internalise some of the management of the platform, we were able to more flexibly tweak the set up almost in real time, as we worked out things that were working and not working – like changing the order of our call queues, or doing A/B tests on different greetings to see what was connecting better with customers,” he continued.
The pilot was also invaluable in ensuring wide-scale deployment success. With Community First planning to roll out the RingCentral app to all 150 users rather than handsets, the pilot discovered that a lot of the organisation’s ageing laptop and desktop fleet needed to be upgraded. Similarly, the pilot also picked up that the QoS configuration on the network to cater for the old telephony system had to be updated to reflect the requirements of the RingCentral solution.
To ensure business continuity, Community First implemented RingCentral CloudConnect, providing a dedicated 1GB fibre connection between its data centre and RingCentral’s local cloud infrastructure. That “gold plates” the communications infrastructure by keeping it separate from general internet traffic, explains Irons, highlighting the criticality of voice and video to Community First’s business.
Due to the pandemic’s impact on the global supply chain, Community First wasn’t able to complete the user hardware refresh before the RingCentral rollout. “Where the hardware didn’t  play nicely, RingCentral’s mobile app really saved us. The fact that a staff member could instal the app on their mobile device and just use that instead of the softphone on the computer was a lifesaver,” said Irons.
Improving the customer and staff experience
While Community First had been using a stand-alone video conferencing application and was heavily reliant on email for internal communication, Irons highlighted RingCentral Team Messaging as a revelation. 
“Having a more informal internal messaging service, I was actually surprised how quickly it was adopted by some teams in the business. Even before we formally rolled it out, they'd already worked it out and were using it quite heavily. In the contact centre, because we're now all working from different locations, it has helped us immensely to just keep in touch, and the benefit we found is that it's not getting lost in translation with Outlook,” he said.
“We've got all of our important communications in a single chat board. So staff go, ‘OK, I know that was posted to our direct channels chat board, but I can't exactly remember the content, I can search it, bang, there it is’. And I've found the information that I need when I need it. It’s a good complementary platform to our intranet.”
Running both the RingCentral Contact Centre agent screen and the RingCentral app, Community First’s contact centre can swap instant messages, transfer and receive calls with anyone in the organisation. And, rather than just having extensions in each of the stores, now those numbers are associated with an individual and their availability status.
RingCentral also gives Community First call recording in its stores. Previously, for certain types of transactions that required recording, the store would have to forward calls on to the contact centre, which was not a great experience for the member.
“Now that RingCentral provides all our users with the capability to call record when we need to, we have first call resolution straight away. Some of our members have banked with us for 60 years, and they only want to talk to a very particular set of staff. The fact that one of our stores can now service all of that member’s needs instead of having to pass them on for some transactions has been a big value add for us,” said Irons.
For the Community First contact centre, one of the biggest impacts from the deployment of RingCentral Contact Centre has been the visibility the new system provides, combined with RingCentral’s Workforce Optimisation Pro module. While the organisation knew how many daily calls it received and had an FTE budget to service that, it had been very difficult to map staffing levels with call demand, and manage rostering more dynamically.
“Scheduling people’s breaks based on when we expect calls has been good; before that it was ‘just take a break now because there's no calls in the queue’. Whereas now we know that on Wednesday at 11 o'clock we’ve got room to put two people on a break, because we don't expect to get many calls through then,” said Irons. 
Ultimately, improving the customer experience has been the biggest benefit from the RingCentral Contact Centre deployment.
“Our differentiator against the big four banks isn’t our products, it’s our people. Being better able to manage those demand times when our members want us is critical to our customer intimacy and service, and RingCentral’s workforce management has been instrumental to make sure that our staff are at the time and place where our members want them to be,” said Irons.
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