When the Detroit Lions Needed a New Business Communications Solution, They Drafted RingCentral
With RingCentral’s help, we successfully navigated the most technologically difficult NFL draft we’ve ever been through.
Director of IT, Detroit Lions
of inbound calls answered by agents in real-time, even as they work remotely
“Holiday Wishes” calls made to season-ticket holders using Contact Center’s outbound dialer
of the team’s call center agents transitioned to remote work full-time—without a hitch
As the fifth-oldest team in the NFL, the Detroit Lions have built up long standing traditions with their fans. But with their legacy contact center solution, the team’s staff was having difficulty providing the high-quality customer service they knew their fans deserved.
The Lions rolled out RingCentral Contact Center for their support, guest-services, and box-office agents. They also implemented RingCentral MVP and Meetings for anywhere, any-device phone, audio and video conferencing, and team messaging services. These solutions resulted in significant improvements in customer service and internal operations.
A team always thinking of its fans
The Detroit Lions organization has a lot to be proud of, including four NFL championships and more than a dozen Lions players inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And several members of the team over the years—most notably Barry Sanders and Dick Lane—are widely considered among the best to ever play the game.
But if you ask the Lions about their greatest source of pride, they’ll talk about the loyalty of their fans. During the 2019 season, for example, the Lions ranked in the top 10 of all NFL teams for home-game ticket sales. The team’s players, coaches, and corporate staff all recognize how much the Lions franchise means to the City of Detroit—and they place a high priority on showing appreciation to their fans.
Recently, the team decided to overhaul their legacy communications infrastructure. Their goal, as is often the case, was to provide better service to Lions fans. The team wanted to find a more reliable, feature-rich contact center solution that could help their agents provide an outstanding experience for everyone: VIPs, season-ticket members, first-time buyers of game seats or merchandise, and fans calling with general questions.
It was time to move the goalposts on customer service
Although they’re one of the oldest franchises in the NFL, the Detroit Lions organization knows how to leverage modern technology to improve their operations. But one area where the corporate staff felt they were falling behind was with their communications systems. And for a team that prides itself on customer support, the situation was becoming untenable.
“It wasn’t as streamlined as we would like it to be,” Scott Howland, the Lions’ Senior Manager of CRM & Research, says of the organization’s communications infrastructure. “Our contact center system didn’t integrate in the same way with our CRM, so we couldn’t give our agents a heads-up on who was calling or easily direct callers to the right reps. And internally, we were sharing just a few conference bridges among hundreds of employees, so we had to request a line whenever we needed to host a call.”
Scott continues: “Our contact center system had trouble even with the basics, like routing calls and setting up call queues. Anytime we wanted to add functionality, we had to find another vendor and bolt on another app.”
As IT Director Steve Lancaster puts it: “Our original plan was just to find a better contact center solution, something more sophisticated that we could integrate with our CRM. The real catalyst was finding a way to improve our customer service.”
But Tom Wyatt, Senior Director of Corporate Partnership Sales, explains that as the team learned about RingCentral, they decided to take the opportunity to upgrade not only their contact center but all IT communications. “We realized it made sense to roll everything into one platform: phone, contact center, conference lines, video calls, and team messaging—why manage 4 or 5 vendor relationships when we could just partner with RingCentral for everything?”
RingCentral has had such a positive impact on our operations that we’ve been recommending it to other teams in the league.
Senior Director of Corporate Partnership Sales, Detroit Lions
The contact center solution the Lions needed... and their fans deserved
As they rolled out RingCentral Contact Center, the Lions’ staff knew they had found the solution they’d always wanted for their fans. “Now when a call comes in, RingCentral Contact Center and our CRM work together to figure out if the caller is assigned to a rep, and if so, it routes the call directly to them,” Scott explains.
“It also pops up the caller’s CRM profile, so the agent has useful information—Does the caller have kids? Who’s their favorite player?—before starting the call. The system also makes it easy to collect more of these details during the call and input them for next time. This solution is really helping us provide more personalized service than we’ve been able to before.”
RingCentral earns an honorary MVP during 2020’s virtual draft
But as the Lions organization discovered soon after implementing RingCentral, the solution was about to help the team, and their fans, in another way.
“Just a few days after we rolled out RingCentral, we had the 2020 NFL Draft,” says Tom. “But unlike any draft the league had ever done, this one was all virtual because of COVID.”
But fortunately, because they had now the cloud-based RingCentral solution that can work anywhere, the Lions were able to set up the team’s General Manager with a “draft phone” at his home, pre-programmed with the numbers of all 31 other NFL teams for trades and talks during the 3-day draft.
“The media actually called our IT Director, Steve Lancaster, the most famous guy in IT because he camped out in an RV outside our GM’s house each day of the draft—just in case our GM needed help with his internet connection. Steve was really a hero here, but we also need to credit our cloud communications solution. If it weren’t for RingCentral, I’m not sure how we would’ve handled the crazy 2020 virtual NFL Draft.”
We now know we can offer more flexible working arrangements post-pandemic—partly in the office, partly remote. RingCentral is largely responsible for that.
Senior Manager of CRM & Research