We’ve had employees during the lockdown logging into call queues from their laptops or mobile phones and helping our policyholders. Without RingCentral, there’s just no way it would’ve run that smoothly.
It would be difficult to overstate the contribution that CFM Insurance has made to Missouri’s farmers—not to mention the food supply of millions of people—since its founding 150 years ago.
You’ve probably never given it much thought, but a farm—like a business in any industry—needs a reliable insurance policy to operate confidently and profitably. By providing high-quality coverage to thousands of farms across Missouri, CFM Insurance plays a little-recognized but vital role in helping to maintain a stable food supply for people across the state, the country, and millions of others around the world.
CFM is Missouri’s oldest farm mutual insurance company and the longest-running business of any type in Lafayette County. The company’s network of independent agents have been providing coverage to farms, homes, countryside properties, and other assets for so long, in fact, that when CFM was founded, the president of the United States was Ulysses S. Grant.
But despite its age, CFM leverages advanced technology wherever possible to improve its operations. That’s one reason that even with its relatively small staff, CFM has become a top insurance mutual serving more than 30,000 policyholders. One technology the company recently decided to upgrade was its phone system—a decision that proved invaluable during COVID-19.
Outgrowing their on-prem phone infrastructure
CFM made do for years with a legacy phone system and a standard telecom service plan. But Scott Hemme, the company’s Director of Information Systems and Data Quality, explains that in recent years a couple of factors changed the company’s views on its aging on-prem system.
The first issue was the company’s growth. CFM has always operated as a lean organization, but the company’s increasing success led to mergers with other companies and a growing staff. “We were outgrowing our offices, and we wanted to equip our employees with the tools they’d need to work remotely,” Scott recalls. One of those tools was a communications solution that would transition seamlessly from the office, to an employee’s home, and to the road.
CFM also wanted to create a single company wide communications environment—one that would make it easy for all employees to reach each other no matter where they were or what devices they had handy. But as Scott explains: “That was getting more difficult, because each time we merged with a new company we were taking on a different phone system.”
After researching the available options, Scott’s technical team at CFM decided a work-from-anywhere cloud communications system made the most sense in terms of functionality, mobility, and affordability.
Our employees were able to meet face-to-face as often as we wanted through the video conference platform. That was great for keeping us all connected and informed, and also keeping morale up during the lockdowns.
Preparing for business continuity during the pandemic… without even realizing it
CFM initially used its RingCentral cloud communications platform primarily for phone service, which enabled employees working at home or traveling to take and make business calls from the RingCentral app on their computers or even their own mobile phones.
“The biggest initial benefit was that we were no longer anchored to any location,” says Scott. “We could take calls anywhere, on any device, transfer calls to the right people wherever they were… and callers would just assume that we were all in the office.”
In addition to the newfound location flexibility, RingCentral also gave CFM’s growing team a simplified way to bring new companies or agents into their communications environment. For example, after a recent merger with another Mutual, this seamless setup allowed for that incoming company to port their existing business phone number into CFM’s RingCentral system easily. And thanks to the internal dialing feature, users no longer deal with the pressure of long hold times and frustrated callers, allowing for better efficiencies and high-quality customer service.
Then COVID-19 led to Missouri’s statewide shelter-in-place orders. That’s when CFM’s employees discovered they were even more prepared for the transition to remote work than they could have hoped.
RingCentral Video keeps a remote workforce connected in multiple ways
Just before the lockdowns, CFM migrated its RingCentral account to the new RingCentral Video, a cloud platform that merges phone service, audio and video conferencing, and team messaging into a single app. With all of that communication functionality available to its employees on any device, CFM had the tools it needed to keep operations running smoothly—even as the stay-at-home orders forced its entire staff to suddenly become a 100% remote workforce.
For Scott and his IT team, the built-in video conferencing helped them address technical issues that in normal times employees were able to just walk over and ask about. “Even though we were in different locations, I could just jump on a video chat, ask the employee to share their screen, and then have them walk me through the problem so I can help them solve it.”
In fact, the entire CFM team found ways to use video conferencing to keep things running smoothly during the quarantine. “Our employees were able to meet face-to-face as often as we wanted through the video conference platform,” Scott says. “That was great for keeping us all connected and informed, and also keeping morale up during the lockdowns.”