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How New England Biolabs® continued contributing to COVID research… even with its staff in lockdown


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In the medical community’s fight against COVID-19, the media spotlight has focused on the large pharmaceutical companies working on vaccines. However, these high-profile drug makers don’t work in a vacuum. To develop successful vaccines, these companies need cutting-edge research tools—and one of their preferred sources for these tools is New England Biolabs (NEB®).

The scientists at NEB have been developing innovative products to aid in genetic research and analysis for over four decades. The company has become one of the most sought-after suppliers of biological research products in the world. And with the outbreak of COVID-19, the pharmaceutical and scientific communities once again turned to New England Biolabs.

The company’s products have played a key role in the global effort to battle the new virus. NEB’s tools are helping researchers develop better testing mechanisms and vaccines for COVID-19. Healthcare organizations are also leveraging the company’s tools for the virus in lab settings and point-of-care environments.

NEB’s important work supporting COVID-19 research could have been slowed when the lockdowns forced the company’s employees to vacate their offices. But because NEB had made a forward-looking IT decision just months earlier, none of their customers experienced a disruption in service even as NEB’s entire corporate team transitioned to remote work.

A call center solution worthy of a world-class support operation

As New England Biolabs continued to expand, the IT team took a long, objective look at their 15-year-old on-prem phone system. They decided that rather than try to upgrade nearly-end-of-life system, it made more sense to find a modern cloud solution that could work anywhere with no hardware to manage.

Larry Primatello, Manager of Infrastructure Operations for NEB, explains his team’s thinking: “We could’ve tried to squeeze a couple more years out of the old phone system by paying for more capacity or investing in a platform upgrade and managing it in our data center. Or we could just migrate to new communications infrastructure in the cloud and not have to manage and maintain any back-office equipment. We chose cloud.” As it turns out, they chose more wisely than they realized.

One of the immediate benefits of rolling out RingCentral Contact Center was that NEB’s unique call center operation—with rotating teams of product-development scientists taking customers’ technical calls—became even more efficient and professional.

For example, because RingCentral integrates with NEB’s CRM platform, Larry explains that “our scientists and customer service agents can address the person by name, mention the product they’ve bought, and ask how they can help with it. The support experience is so much more personal now than before.”

But what Larry’s team couldn’t have known when they signed up for RingCentral was the degree to which the cloud solution was going to spare them from trouble and confusion during the lockdowns a few months later.

There when the scientific community needed them most

When the 2020 quarantine orders went into effect, most of NEB’s corporate staff—including many of the company’s research scientists and customer service agents—had to grab what they could from the office and head home. That sudden shakeup could have severely undermined the effectiveness of NEB’s technical call centers and overall business operations.

 But with RingCentral Contact Center, the company’s scientists and other support agents were able to log in to their call queues from apps on their laptops or cell phones—so they could take customer calls at home just as easily as if they were in the office.                                                                    

“Our customers had no idea we’d locked down,” says Larry. “Everyone went home, got their RingCentral desktop and mobile apps up and running, and were able to connect with each other and take our customers’ calls without missing a beat. It was amazing.”

 Considering the significance of some of those calls—pharmaceutical scientists doing COVID-19 research, for example—NEB’s ability to be there for its customers during the lockdowns might have had a profoundly positive effect not only on their own operations but also in the scientific community’s effort to combat a deadly new virus.

Originally published Apr 01, 2021

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