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San Antonio Zoo Empowers Mobile Staff with UCaaS Solutions

Needed a phone solution that would work easily on day one, scale easily later.
Cloud-based RingCentral enabled easy office expansion and frictionless growth.
Continuing to benefit from RingCentral’s ease of use and cost-effectiveness.
Company profile
Company profile:
San Antonio Zoo, operated by the San AntonioZoological Society, is a non-profit organization committed to securing afuture for wildlife.
Year founded:
450 employees
San Antonio, TX

Welcoming more than a million visitors a year, the San Antonio Zoo is committed to securing a future for wildlife. The zoo contributes to the vibrant local economy, educating and inspiring visitors of all ages. Operating over 56 acres, the San Antonio Zoo is staffed by 450 employees, most of whom are highly mobile.

The San Antonio Zoo makes early education a priority, having recently constructed a new on-site education facility. The Will Smith Zoo School is the largest nature-based preschool in the country, where the lion’s share of the students’ days are spent learning outside, including lunch and—weather permitting—even naps.

The construction of the new state-of-the-art Will Smith Zoo School was an opportunity for the zoo to address its communications and collaboration needs and switch to more flexible and cost-effective cloud solutions. The zoo’s difficulties obtaining additional analog lines, and billing issues for what they already had, impacted the organization’s ability to grow and to keep its mobile staff connected. Furthermore, the zoo faces challenges inherent to not-for-profit organizations: Many of the technology solutions it was using, including meetings and video conferencing platforms, were free tools, with corresponding limitations.

Mobility and user-friendly features stood out from other platforms

While the construction of the zoo school was the impetus for the zoo to evaluate UCaaS solutions, the ease of use and performance of RingCentral Phone™ and RingCentral Meetings™ quickly won over Brian Carter, VP of Marketing. The zoo’s Sales team members are out of the office nearly as much as they are in, and a mobile solution enabling them to take and make phone calls on the go was a real necessity. Especially as a non-profit, the zoo can’t afford for its sales team to miss any donor calls.

Carter was looking for a great set of tools that could have his team accessible to clients wherever they went and allow them to collaborate across platforms. He finds that RingCentral lies at the crossroads of two of his greatest passions: technology and tools that increase business efficiency. “I’m really pleased with what I’ve been able to use with RingCentral so far. You have a real champion in me,” he says.

The zoo had been using a VoIP platform, itself a replacement of a PBX, but there were a lot of issues with the rollout, “never mind the features and performance,” says Armando Escobedo, IT Manager. Now, to enable employees’ mobile connectivity, they set their phone presence to Away, 

routing those calls to direct inward dialing numbers (DIDs) on RingCentral Phone on their mobile devices. This enables staff members across the zoo to receive direct calls without missing a beat. “I really like all the phones having their own DID numbers; that opens up a lot of opportunity for us. The people at the hospital can receive direct calls from the labs, external vets, and X-ray techs they interface with daily,” says Escobedo. The animal hospital and business office are also users of RingCentral’s internet fax solution, so Escobedo doesn’t have to hunt down a third-party fax service, and users can send and receive faxes directly from their computers.

In particular, Escobedo values the ease of rollout and administration of RingCentral’s solutions. “When we went through the training and saw how much more modern and intuitive the administration side was, that’s when I started changing my mind,” he says. Escobedo sees the lower cost per user as built-in value of RingCentral: The phones arrive preconfigured, which saves IT staff time and hassle, and each unit comes with associated apps, options, and accessories included. “And with RingCentral, we have a consolidated bill, whereas the former vendor charged us for every add on,“ says Escobedo.

Non-profit sees value in RingCentral enterprise-grade solutions

When it came to meetings and video conferencing technology, the zoo found itself hamstrung by less-than-robust technology. “As a non-profit, we don’t have the right tools because we either can’t afford them or can’t afford the time to find them,” says Carter. Previous free web conferencing tools just couldn’t offer an enterprise-level quality solution. Such tools were glitchy and cumbersome, requiring users to keep track of dial-in numbers. Carter also found that the freeware solutions were not intuitive for most end users to do things like share screens and files during a conference call, whereas RingCentral is. Now Carter enjoys the power

and flexibility of having RingCentral Meetings on his phone and even receiving meeting alerts on his Apple Watch. He can join, start, and send out meeting invitations while away from his desk. Meetings “makes some of the things that used to be headaches about setting up meetings and taking phone calls go away,” says Carter. An added benefit—in contrast to some of the tools they’d used in the past, Meetings has elevated the zoo’s professional appearance: “Something that feels trusted and secure goes a long way to making us feel professional,” says Carter.

ProductPlan believes RingCentral offers many benefits for small companies and startups

“The RingCentral platform has supported ProductPlan’s growth over the years in a number of ways,” says Semick, “and I think it could benefit many young and small companies. I’ll give you some examples.”

“Ease of use. Setting up a new employee with RingCentral is really as easy as unboxing the phone, plugging it in, and recording a voicemail message. It doesn’t require any specialized technical expertise.”

“Portability. As our staff grew, we had to move to new offices or take over additional space in our existing offices. With RingCentral, the beauty was we could take the phones to our new space and just plug and play. Because RingCentral is cloud-based, we never needed to set up physical phone lines or wait for a telecom provider to activate service for our staff.”

“Time and cost savings. If we had an on-prem PBX or other traditional business phone system, we’d be spending time and money configuring and managing it. And if we instead relied entirely on our cell phones for business communication, that would create inefficiencies in the office in terms of being able to grab a coworker’s ringing phone or easily transferring calls to the right person. Having the RingCentral cloud platform is the perfect solution for a young but fast-growing company like ProductPlan.”

“Easy scalability. As our Account Management and Customer Success teams grow, RingCentral makes it so easy for us to get them up and running. We just add users, order phones, and plug them in. We don’t have an IT team, and when you’re a startup like us, every aspect of your tech infrastructure that you can outsource, simplify, or set up to be self-running makes it much easier to scale quickly. That’s yet another reason I’m so glad we went with RingCentral from day one.” 

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