In the highly competitive insurance industry, Conifer Holdings found an ingenious strategy for building a successful business. The company developed products specifically for industries that most traditional insurers have overlooked—such as distilleries, restaurants, and bars.
Within just a few years, Conifer had become a go-to insurance resource for these and other niche businesses. Today, only a little more than a decade after its founding, Conifer is publicly traded on the NASDAQ (as “CNFR”) and has six subsidiary companies offering insurance policies to an ever-increasing roster of businesses and individuals.
In addition to creating competitive products for underserved industries—hospitality, liquor, security, and more recently cannabis—another reason for Conifer’s success has been the company’s world-class customer service.
But the lockdowns, and the company’s decision to transition all 150 employees to remote work, taxed Conifer’s phone system beyond its limits. The management team realized they needed a better communications solution to empower the staff to continue providing outstanding service from home.
A phone system with pre-existing conditions
Jason Brawner, Chief Information Officer for Conifer Holdings, explains that although the company’s phone system was VoIP-based, it required his IT team to maintain a lot of on-premises hardware. And as he points out, the system didn’t offer much functionality for people when they weren’t in the office—which led to major challenges when the pandemic hit.
“We had to send everyone home with their office phones,” Jason explains. “And a lot of people needed to set up their workstations by their routers to make their work phones even operational.”
But, as Jason notes, the company also had other fundamental challenges with the phone system, which made it even more difficult to function as a remote workforce. The first problem was uptime.
“We’re based in Michigan and with our phone system running in-house, storms could cause down time with the office network, meaning live calls could drop and employees could lose phone service for as long as the power was out.”
A second problem was the system’s lack of a consistent and reliable experience when making or receiving calls outside the company’s offices. That led to challenges with staffing Conifer’s customer support and inside sales lines. As Jason explains: “With the old system, we couldn’t add someone to the support call queue if they were at home. It just wasn’t reliable enough.”
RingCentral helps the team maintain world-class customer support from home
With RingCentral’s unified communications solution, Jason found the platform that would enable his entire staff to function efficiently from home—not only from a phone standpoint but also with integrated video conferencing, team messaging, and online fax.
“Because RingCentral is one unified app that handles everything, I was able to shut down four separate communications services we were paying for: our on-premises phone system, an in-house messaging platform, and two telco relationships,” he explains.
And because RingCentral’s online admin portal is so user-friendly, Conifer’s support and sales managers found it easy to keep their call queues staffed appropriately and monitor their agents’ performance, even with every agent logging in from different places. “With RingCentral, anyone can jump into a call queue from anywhere,” says Jason, “and we’re able to adjust them and move people around so easily.”
Originally published Jun 15, 2021, updated Jul 11, 2021